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Breakthrough Study Reveals Additional Benefits of Probiotics

Breakthrough Study Reveals Additional Benefits of Probiotics
Bernadine Racoma

Researchers from the UCLA School of Medicine have found out that probiotics affect brain areas that mediate functions such as reasoning and emotions. The findings of this breakthrough study suggest that eating natural yoghurt could be helpful in the treatment of mental health issues that foster negative emotions. Essentially, this landmark study found out that probiotics found in yogurt can boost a person’s mood.

This is the first study to show the effects of probiotics on humans. Previous research only showed the positive effects of the microorganism on rat brains. Dr. Kirsten Tillisch who led the study said that the popular adage, “you are what you eat” and the phrase, “gut feeling” now take on new meaning with their recent findings.

Gut bacteria helps in more ways than one

Twice-daily consumption of yoghurt decreased brain activity in the pain and emotion centers of the brain. On the contrary, the areas involved with decision-making had increased activity.

This new study is important since evidence is finally at hand that human brain function may be affected by bacteria ingested in food. The helpful bacterial strains used were Lactobacillus bulgaricus, Streptococcus thermophiles, and Bifidobacterium animalis.

Eat yoghurt twice a day

The research team invited 36 women to be part of the study. They were between the ages of 18 and 53 and had healthy weight. Probiotics or beneficial bacteria were consumed through yoghurt by healthy women who served as subjects of the study. The women ate natural yoghurt fortified with probiotics twice a day for a period of one month. With regular consumption, the brain functioning of the study subjects were altered in both the resting state and in a task involving emotion-recognition as well.

No clear mechanism yet

There are no clear explanations yet as to the exact mechanisms involved, but evidently, bacteria in the human gut influence brain activity as shown by the findings. It is the hope of the study proponents that probiotic therapy could eventually become a key element in the treatment of some of the more prevalent mental health conditions that assail society today.

Gut bacteria is good for humans

Human beings support a healthy population of microorganisms that live in the digestive system. These microorganisms survive in a symbiotic relationship with the human host. It has already been proven in the past that these microorganisms are beneficial to humans in many ways. They aid in digestion of food, help maintain a healthy weight, boost the human immune response, and help in the maintenance of a stable blood pressure as well.

Two-way highway

Brain function has also been extensively studied and shows that since the brain sends signals to the gut through the autonomic nervous system, emotions such as stress could affect the function of the digestive system, causing gastrointestinal symptoms. The gut sends signals to the brain as well in a feedback loop. The proponents of the study explain that the content of natural yoghurt may be influencing the way that the “brain responds to the environment.”

Photo Credit: Yoghurt

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