Once thought as a digestive aid, probiotics are proving more useful than ever

The stomach contains over 400 kinds of bacteria (Favaro & Philip, 2015). Some of these are bad bacteria; nasty culprits in stomach flus, infections, constipation, and many other ailments. Naturally, some stomach bacteria are good; leveling acidity and aiding in digestion. These heroes of the germ world are known as probiotics.  Now, science is proving that these bacteria may be a contributing factor in mental health.

Although researchers are not exactly certain how they work, probiotics have the task of helping food move successfully through the entire digestive system. In turn, the whole body is effected by what they do (DiLonardo, 2015). In two studies conducted last year, findings indicated that high doses of probiotics may help to eliminate certain mental health problems.  

“It is promising to think that mood disorders could be eradicated by simply balancing our digestive system” Dr Kelly Brogan, 2015

In January of 2015, researcher’s at Women’s College Hospital in Toronto used high-dose probiotics to relieve symptoms of 50 individuals diagnosed with bipolar disorder.   In February of 2015, researchers from the Leiden Institute of Brain and Cognition tested 40 individuals, 20 taking probiotics and 20 taking a placebo, on their reactivity toward depression; finding individuals taking probiotics were less susceptible to depressive thinking.

Why Does This Matter and How Do I Get Them?

It’s simple: We want to feel happy. When we feel happy, we are more productive and efficient.  We are better athletes, employees, parents, and friends.  Probiotics may offer us an effective, safe alternative to prescribed medications. They do not have side effects. They cost less. And, bonus, we can eat them.

Now, there are two ways to get more probiotics in your life without having to follow Jamie Lee Curtis down the Activia path. First, you can buy them as a supplement in many local pharmacies and grocery stores.   Supplements come in powder and pill form and provide serving suggestions on the label. However, take caution with supplements. The FDA regulates supplements in the same way they regulate food. Therefore, there is no need for a supplement company to prove the supplement is effective. Additionally, supplements may contain only a small portion of the effective ingredient; while the rest of the product is filler.

Ideally, you can get what you need from food. In particular, fermented food. Items like sauerkraut, pickles, yogurt, and kefir contain the active bacteria that the body needs. If you really want to dose up on probiotics (and you might consider it if you have recently taken antibiotics or had a colon cleanse, as these things may rob the body of good bacteria), take a shot of apple cider vinegar daily. Be cautioned, though, apple vinegar contains a lot of acid. While your stomach may thank you, your esophagus will not.   To protect your throat, dilute one shot of the vinegar in about 4 ounces of water and bottoms up.


References

DiLonardo, A. (2015). CNS Neurol Discord Drug Targets. NCBI.

Favaro, J. and Philip, T. (2015). Mental Health Benefits of Probiotics. Medical Daily.