It’s easy to experience firsthand the positive effect of probiotics on the digestive system, but believing that probiotics can improve your mood may require a leap of faith. I’ve written about the latest research on probiotics and mood in my Health and Wellness column in Dairy Foods magazine.
PROBIOTICS AND DIGESTIVE HEALTH
Some years ago my digestive system got upset. This lasted for nearly 18 months, and despite all of the tests and medicines, nothing provided relief. Finally I started drinking kefir, a probiotic dairy beverage, and within a month my digestive system was back to its normal healthy function. Since then I’ve been a true believer in probiotics.
Part of the adventure of traveling is trying local foods. When I travel, especially to less developed countries, I often end up with traveler’s diarrhea. Since I started loading up on probiotics before my trip and drinking kefir when I return, I’ve had very few problems. If problems did develop, they were quickly resolved.
DEPRESSION AND INFLAMMATION
Probiotics basically work because the good bacteria crowd out the bad bacteria, the ones that cause digestive issues and inflammation. As so probiotics may play a role in improving mood by helping to combat depression. In her book, “A Mind of Your Own,” Kelly Brogan, M.D. explains that “depression is often a result of chronic inflammation.” She goes on to explain that “Dietary change is a powerful if not the most powerful means of beneficially affecting the microbiome and the gut-brain signaling.”
Kelly is not a fan of dairy, and that’s where we disagree. Probiotics have traditionally been grown in dairy foods like yogurt and kefir, and research shows that those beneficial bugs are actually healthier and more effective when grown in dairy, as I point out in my Dairy Foods article.
THE GUT-BRAIN AXIS
Beyond depression, probiotics may have potential benefits in the prevention or treatment of anxiety, autism spectrum disorders, chronic fatigue and schizophrenia. The latest research is outlined in a new book, “The Gut-Brain Axis, Dietary, Probiotic and Prebiotic Intervention on the Microbiota,” by Academic Press. The authors explore the latest research on how gut dysfunction can affect the central nervous system. It’s a great read for academics.