How Probiotics Can Help In Mood Management
In today’s society, people feel more stressed than ever before. Many people struggle with their mood as well, since stress can cause irritability and other mood issues. Stress is risky business, and is a significant contributor to major health problems. According to the World Health Organization, stress is one of the most common sources of health problems worldwide. In the United States, three out of every four doctor’s visits are stress related. In the United States, stress costs $300 billion annually in medical bills and lost productivity.
Workplace stress is the most common type, but major life events are also known stress triggers. Marriage, divorce, job changes, a new baby, a move – big changes usually bring big stress with them, even happy changes.
Stress Affects Everything
Stress can affect mood, and can be a trigger for mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. It often comes with digestive symptoms – stomach aches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, gas, and more. Chronic stress also weakens the immune system and affects sleep patterns. In fact, there isn’t system in the body that remains unaffected by stress.
Stress management is one of the smartest ways to take care of your health. Restorative sleep, regular exercise, a healthy diet, supportive relationships, and regular down time all help to manage stress and boost mood. Now, research shows that adding a probiotic to your daily routine can also help you be more resilient to the effects of stress.
Stress, Mood, and Your Gut
Your gut has been called “the second brain” and with good reason. It’s part of the gut-brain axis, and is home to more than 100 million nerve cells. Your gut is where most of your body’s feel-good neurotransmitters are made as well. A gut that contains the right balance of healthy bacteria helps your mood and guards against the negative effects of stress. Researchers learned this early on, when they discovered that when certain strains of bacteria were transferred into mice, it improved their stress response.
In humans, two strains in particular have been identified as helpful for mood and stress. They are Lactobacillus helveticus Rosell-52 and Bifidobacterium longum Rosell-175. One double-blind, placebo-controlled study study looked at the effects of these two probiotic strains on stress-related gastrointestinal symptoms. Participants who were experiencing signs of stress (but were otherwise healthy) were divided into two groups; half were given probiotics daily and half were given a placebo. After three weeks the probiotic group saw a much greater reduction in their symptoms compared to the placebo group.
In another clinical study, researchers looked at the effects of the probiotics on the psychological symptoms of stress. Again, the volunteers were randomly divided into two groups: the first group received the probiotics, and the second received a placebo. After 30 days, the probiotic users showed a much greater improvement of their mental stress-related symptoms.
Probiotics Provide Stress Resilience in Multiple Ways
How do probiotics work to help stress? Research shows that friendly bacteria can help to crowd out bad bacteria that contribute to anxiety and poor mood. Friendly bacteria also interacts with the vagus nerve, influencing the production of feel-good neurotransmitters. Research also shows that friendly bacteria can help keep the gut barrier healthy, as well as decrease the amount of cytokines, which are immunesystem cells that cause inflammation.
Probiotics aren’t a magic pill. Lifestyle factors such as sleep quality, proper diet, exercise, and a good support system are equally important, but probiotics are now recognized as a contributing factor in stress and mood management as well.