Stress, the Gut and the Mind

Stress is bad for us.

Stress negatively affects all aspects of our being, both physical and mental. From increased cortisol levels and adrenal fatigue to exacerbation of eczema and other skin conditions to increased anxiety and fatigue, the ill effects of stress know no bounds.

A recent article had this to say about some new research from Ireland about the positive effects of probiotic on gut health, stress, and the gut-brain connection:

They fed mice for 28 days on a broth laced with Lactobacillus rhamnosus – a bacterium often used in probiotics – and subjected them to a barrage of stress tests. As expected, bacteria-fed mice showed less anxious behaviour and had lower levels of the stress hormone corticosterone than mice fed regular broth. The brains of these rodents showed predictable alterations, such as reduced expression of receptors in the amygdala – a region of the brain associated with anxiety. {Emphasis mine}

Wow! If I did not already believe everyone should take a probiotic at least semi-regularly, I do now. This research went on to discuss how the increase in healthy gut flora via probiotics affects the brain… via some kind of disruption of the Vagus Nerve, which connects the gut and the brain, by the probiotic bacteria. Granted this research is in mice, but researchers think that there will be a crossover to humans. From a purely anecdotal point of view, I think that people are more healthy when they take a probiotic, and even if the probiotic does not reduce anxiety directly, it does improve digestions… and that makes people less stressed.

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