Probiotics, the “good” bacteria that is often found in certain kinds of yogurt, may not only be good for digestive health, but can also boost mood.
Researchers at the Leiden Institute of Brain and Cognition in the Netherlands say that probiotics may be an effective way to fight depression and anxiety. They enrolled 40 healthy adults with no mood disorders in their study. Half were given a power probiotic supplements containing weight types of bacteria every night for four weeks. The other half took a placebo that they thought contained probiotics.
The participants who consumed the probiotic supplements were better able to overcome sad mood and had fewer depressive thoughts after times of sadness than the placebo group, the researchers reported in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity.
Although the study results weren’t able to pinpoint the reason as to why probiotics improve mood, the researchers believe that the bacteria may decrease inflammation in the gut or the bacteria increases levels of tryptophan, an amino acid involved in the production of the neurotransmitter serotonin.
“Even if preliminary, these results provide the first evidence that the intake of probiotics may help reduce negative thoughts associated with sad mood,” Lorenza Colzato, PhD, the study’s principal investigator, told Time.com. “As such, our findings shed an interesting new light on the potential of probiotics to serve as adjuvant or preventive therapy for depression.”
Probiotics help treat irritable bowel syndrome, infectious diarrhea, (potentially) some skin conditions, as well as aiding oral health. They’re often found in Greek yogurts and can also be ingested in supplement form to help maintain balance in your gut. While plenty of research shows their value in keeping your gut healthy, there hasn’t been enough research looking into their overall health benefits. But now scientists are beginning to grasp what those are.
A new study out of the Leiden Institute of Brain and Cognition at Leiden University in the Netherlands suggests that probiotics may actually aid in improving mood. They might be a good way to fight anxiety or depression, or simply make you feel better after a bad day.