When five men attempted to set up a wiretap at the Democratic National Committee headquarters in June 1972, the bad news bugs backfired, big time. The Watergate burglars only succeeded in causing a national anxiety crisis and bringing down the presidency of Richard Nixon, who resigned in August 1974.
That's just the opposite of what promoting up good bugs can do, according to researchers from the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom.
Their study, published in Scientific Reports, gave a group of 18- to 25-year-olds a daily dose of a prebiotic supplement called galacto-oligosaccharides, which are found in lentils, chickpeas, beans, and white onions.
These friendly sugars pass through your gut undigested, and in the colon they promote growth of intestinal bacteria that fuel good physical and mental health.
Over the four weeks of the double-blind, placebo-controlled study, researchers surveyed the participants’ mood, anxiety, and sleep quality, and also analyzed stool samples.
The conclusion: The prebiotic supplement promoted a healthier balance of bacteria in the gut biome and markedly reduced anxiety.
The researchers explained that stress and diet can alter your gut biome and let "bad bugs" take over, altering gene expression and affecting your brain function. That lays the groundwork for emotional problems such as anxiety or depression.
If you're feeling stressed out (and who isn't?), dish up hummus, lentil soup with onions, and beans and rice as often as possible. Recipes can be found in the "What to Eat When Cookbook."
And ask your doctor about taking a prebiotic supplement.