Probiotics are good bacteria that support various aspects of health. More specifically, probiotics promote proper digestion, enhance heart health, strengthen the immune system, improve the body’s response to allergens, and increase nutrient absorption [1-5].
However, probiotics also help enhance mental health . Indeed, clinical studies show that probiotics target depression, anxiety, hyperactivity, and memory impairments as well as emotional and development difficulties that are linked to the onset of certain psychiatric problems .
Probiotics interact with the nervous system through their influence on the immune system and the hormonal system as well as via their ability to heighten the absorption of nutrients in the gut [7, 8]. This in turn, improves the body’s regulation of mood and behavior.
The influence of probiotics is noticeable because there are nerves that connect the brain to the gut (digestive tract), which are directly involved in memory, learning, and emotion control.
If the digestive tract is not functioning properly due to nutritional deficiencies or inflammation for example, then the communication between the gut and brain will become altered and this can negatively affect mental health [7, 8].
Probiotics enhance the absorption of essential nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron, etc., by preventing them from being rapidly broken down by stomach acid [9-11].
This improves the concentration of nutrients that actually reach the bloodstream and ensures that vital organs (e.g., brain) receive the nutrients that support optimal health.
Similarly, probiotics help target digestive inflammation [1, 12], thereby ensuring proper communication between the nerves in the gut and the nerves in the brain that they are connected to.
Therefore, the versatile nature of probiotics boosts mental health in addition to physical health.
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- Ortiz-Lucas M, Tobias A, Saz P, Sebastian JJ. Effect of probiotic species on irritable bowel syndrome symptoms: A bring up to date meta-analysis. Rev Esp Enferm Dig. 2013, 105(1):19-36.
- Scholz-Ahrens KE, Ade P, Marten B, Weber P, Timm W, Açil Y, Glüer CC, Schrezenmeir J. Prebiotics, probiotics, and synbiotics affect mineral absorption, bone mineral content, and bone structure. J Nutr 2007, 137(Suppl 2):838S-46S.
- Kukkonen K, Savilahti E, Haahtela T, et al. Probiotics and prebiotic galacto-oligosaccharides in the prevention of allergic diseases: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2007, 119(1):192-198.
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- Steenbergen L, Sellaro R2, et al. A randomized controlled trial to test the effect of multispecies probiotics on cognitive reactivity to sad mood. Brain Behav Immun. 2015;48:258-64.
- Wang H, Lee IS, et al. Effect of Probiotics on Central Nervous System Functions in Animals and Humans: A Systematic Review. J Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2016;22(4):589-605.
- Mohammadi AA, Jazayeri S, et al. The effects of probiotics on mental health and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in petrochemical workers. Nutr Neurosci. 2016;19(9):387-395.
- Narva M, Nevala R, Poussa T, Korpela R. The effect of Lactobacillus helveticus fermented milk on acute changes in calcium metabolism in postmenopausal women. Eur J Nutr 2004, 43:61-68.
- Bering S, Suchdev S, Sjøltov L, Berggren A, Tetens I, Bukhave K. A lactic acid-fermented oat gruel increases non-haem iron absorption from a phytate-rich meal in healthy women of childbearing age. Br J Nutr 2006, 96:80-85.
- Nalepa B, Siemianowska E, Skibniewska KA. Influence of Bifidobacterium bifidum on release of minerals from bread with differing bran content. J Toxicol Environ Health A. 2012, 75(1):1-5.
- Bailey JR, Vince V, Williams NA, Cogan TA. Streptococcus thermophilus NCIMB 41856 ameliorates signs of colitis in an animal model of inflammatory bowel disease. Benef Microbes. 2017, 8(4):605-614.