The plethora of microbes living in the human gut not only affect people’s physical health, they may also influence mental health, according to a growing body of research.

Recent studies in animals show that changes in the gut bacteria community appear to make mice less anxious, and also affect levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

In humans, there is some very early evidence of a link between gut bacteria and mental health. A new study from England found that supplements that boost “good” bacteria in the gut (called “prebiotics”) may alter the way people process emotional information, suggesting that changes in gut bacteria may have anti-anxiety effects.

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