Probiotics boost mood as well as healthy gut

Courtesy Vanessa Pike-Russel, Via Flikr Courtesy Vanessa Pike-Russel, Via Flikr

Karina Nowysz
Life Reporter 


Eating probiotics found in yogurt is known to replenish good bacteria in the gut, but a recent study has also suggested a connection to our moods.

The study from University of California, Los Angeles was focused on women between ages 18 and 35 and found those who consumed probiotics found in yogurt experienced less problems with their gut and didn’t feel depressed or anxious as often.

“Researchers have known that the brain sends signals to the gut, which is why stress and other emotions can contribute to gastrointestinal symptoms,” the UCLA study stated. It also  revealed that signals travel the opposite way as well: “The brain and gut connection is a two-way street.”

“The gut is known as the second brain,” said Jennifer Papaconstantinou, a holistic nutritionist.  “It makes as many neurotransmitters (mood sensors) as the brain makes.”

All of the B-vitamins necessary for the body’s response to stress are made in the gut, provided one has a good balance of bacteria, said Papaconstantinou.

Probiotics help re-colonize the good bacteria and improve gut health as well as immune function, said nutritionist Tara Postnikoff.

“Good bacteria can be displaced by bad bacteria such as candida, from overconsumption of sugar and refined foods,” said Postnikoff.

“A lot of people don’t realize that 75 per cent of your immune system is found in your gut,” said Papaconstantinou. “So to keep your immunity healthy you also have to keep your gut healthy.”

Yogurt is a great source of probiotics to keep your gut healthy but she says it has to be organic and natural.

“With non-organic dairy, the cattle is fed antibiotics, which wipes out all the good bacteria in the gut,” said Papaconstantinou.

It also can’t be flavoured because there’s a lot of sugar included in those yogurts, said Papaconstantinou. “Sugar feeds bad bacteria.”

Until now, mood studies had been done only in animals, in contrast to the UCLA research.

“These studies seem reasonable but they are small. It’s no leap to say our organs affect our mood,” said Dr. Ronald Stewart, a bioscience professor at Humber.

“If you have a healthy gastrointestinal system you will be in a better mood,” said Stewart.