Probiotics Work To Improve The Gut-Brain Connection

By Dr. Anthony Azar

Those suffering from anxiety and depression may see a mood improvement from incorporating a probiotic supplement into their diet. Many suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and the associated symptoms, such as depression and anxiety, could benefit from the restoration of a healthy gut.

In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, researchers demonstrated the strong correlation between probiotics and a positive increase in mood (1). Conducted at the University of Toronto, researchers administered to 39 patients either Lactobacillus Casei three times daily or a placebo for two months. Upon fecal testing at the end, 73 percent of the probiotic group had increased levels of beneficial probiotic strains Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus and reported a significant decrease in their anxiety symptoms.

The study reinforces the connection between probiotics and optimal wellbeing. By balancing the bacterial makeup of the gut, the body’s ability to withstand stress, align hormone balance, influence the inflammatory response and absorb the vital molecules needed for brain chemistry and functioning also increase.

In another study, researchers fed mice a broth containing probiotic strain Lactobacillus rhamnosus JB-1 (2). Upon observation, the mice who drank the probiotic broth exhibited significantly less behavior linked with anxiety and depression than the mice who received the probiotic-free control broth. They also showed lower levels of the stress hormone corticosterone after being put through a stress-inducing maze. This again shows the correlation between the stomach and the brain.

These studies provide further evidence that mood, emotion, and wellbeing may be influenced by the body’s intestinal microbial flora or environment. Maintaining optimal balance of the digestive system helps the entire body to function more effectively and can help to ease some psychological issues.

Probiotics are live microorganisms which, when consumed in adequate amounts, provide a health benefit to the host. Everyone naturally has hundreds of trillions of microorganisms in his or her intestines and probiotics, affectionately known as “good bugs,” help maintain a healthy balance of bacteria and obstruct proliferation of harmful bacteria. Interestingly, there are more bacterial DNA and bacterial cells in the gut than in our entire body. This abundance of gut bacterial DNA leads scientists to commonly refer to it as the “second genome.”

When choosing a probiotic, it is important to find one that has a high number of bacteria colony forming units (CFUs) and uses strains that have been clinical tested. Vidazorb® carries up to 10 billion CFUs per tablet, delivering a therapeutic dose of beneficial microorganisms with each use. Also, many over-the-counter probiotics use only one bacteria strain, in insufficient amounts to make an impact. The best products combine two to five key, researched bacteria strains that work together to best provide health benefits. It’s important to consult their nutritionist and physician before adding a supplement to their diet, but I recommend Vidazorb® to my patients because the chewable, non-refrigerated tablets are convenient and the strains used, including Chr. Hansen’s LA5® L. acidophilus and BB12® Bifidobacterium, are some of the most effective I’ve seen.

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