Research has shown that there is a link between having an imbalance in the gut microflora and a number of debilitating mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression. This is why it’s so important to make sure that you’re taking care of your gut by incorporating probiotics into your diet.
In this post I will discuss what psychobiotics are, the link between your gut and your mental health, and how to get started incorporating this specific types of probiotics them into your diet.
What are priobiotics?
Probiotics are live microorganisms (in most cases, bacteria) that confer a health benefit on the host when consumed in adequate amounts.
They can be found naturally in fermented foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, and kefir. Probiotics can also be taken in supplement form.
What are Psychobiotics?
Psychobiotics are a specific type of probiotic that have been shown to have a positive effect on mental health. They are live microorganisms (probiotics) that when ingested, produce a health benefit beyond basic nutrition. These benefits include improvements in mood and mental health.
The term was coined in 2013 by a team of researchers from Harvard Medical School, and it refers to “live microorganisms that, when administered in adequate amounts, produce a health benefit in patients suffering from psychiatric illnesses.”
The link between your gut and your mental health
There is a strong link between the gut and the brain. This is why taking care of your gut is so important for maintaining mental health. The gut-brain axis is a complex system that involves the nervous system, immune system, and hormones.
This connection allows for communication between the gut and the brain. As previously mentioned, it has been shown that an imbalance in gut microflora has been linked to mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression. Another example is inflammatory bowel disease, which is usually linked to psychological symptoms.
How do Psychobiotics impact Mental Health?
It is believed that probiotics can help to improve mental health by reducing inflammation, balancing the immune system, and producing neurotransmitters such as serotonin and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). These two neurochemicals are very important for our mental health, because they help to regulate mood and anxiety.
It is also thought that probiotics can help by directly affecting the vagus nerve, which is responsible for gut-brain communication. This could be one of the reasons why probiotics have been shown to be effective in treating conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and even depression.
Probiotics can also help to increase the levels of BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor), which is a protein that helps to protect and repair brain cells.
Another important effect of psychobiotics is that they reduce the production of inflammatory cytokines. These are proteins that are involved in the inflammatory response. This is important because chronic inflammation has been linked to mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, and even Alzheimer’s disease.
How to get started incorporating Psychobiotics into your diet
If you want to start incorporating psychobiotics into your diet, the best way to do so is by eating fermented foods or taking a probiotic supplement.
Some fermented foods that are high in psychobiotics include yogurt, kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut, and tempeh.
When choosing a probiotic supplement, look for one that contains a variety of different strains of bacteria. You should also make sure that the probiotic supplement you choose is high quality and from a reputable source.
Start by incorporating a few servings of fermented foods or taking a probiotic supplement every day. Over time you can increase the amount you consume as you see fit.
Final thoughts on the impact of psychobiotics on your mental health
Taking care of your gut health is a good idea in general. A healthier gut leads to a healthier body, which is directly linked to a healthier brain.
So whether you are trying to improve your digestion, or to become or more regular, or else to help improve your mood, next time you are at the supermarket , don’t forget to pick up some yogurt or sauerkraut! Your gut will thank you for it.
For Further Reading:
- Did you know that sugar can increase your anxiety?
- Foods that Help Calm Anxiety: How to Reduce Stress and Find Relief
- Stress Eating: What is it, Signs you’re doing it, and How to Stop
- The Best Foods to Relieve Stress (and Some to Avoid)
- Psychobiotics -Improving your mental health by taking care of your gut
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