· By PYM STORE
The Best & Most Proven Probiotics for Feelings of Anxiety
Scientists estimate that the human gut contains 100 trillion bacteria and 500 to 1,000 species of bacteria. These gut bacteria, collectively known as the gut microbiome, help with digestion. Research shows they also communicate with your brain through the gut-brain axis, affecting your thoughts, feelings and behavior.
This means feeding our gut with good bacteria can lessen anxiety, enhance mood, and boost thinking skills!
This article explores prebiotics and probiotics that can improve mental health, known as "psychobiotics". Knowing these strains can help you make better choices in which probiotic supplements to choose for your mental well-being.
The Gut-Brain Axis
The brain and gut send signals to each other through the vagus nerve, which is part of our central nervous system.
This communication regulates the stress response and anxiousness. Additionally, the gut even makes and then sends neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine along the vagus nerve to the brain.
If your gut bacteria are not healthy, your communication system may not function properly, leading to higher anxiety levels.
Studies indicate that individuals with digestive issues are prone to anxiety, while those with anxiety are more susceptible to gastrointestinal diseases.
And studies show that when digestive disorders improve, anxiety improves as well.
Unfortunately, many people have poor gut health due to antibiotics, medications, herbicides, stress, infections, poor diet, poor water quality, and more.
This is why psychobiotics are so great, because they can help your gut health and mental health at the same time!
How psychobiotics can help with anxiety
Psychobiotics are probiotics and prebiotics that can improve your mental health by changing the mixture of bacteria in your gut.
More specifically, psychobiotics help your gut produce more mood-raising neurotransmitters, like serotonin.
In a 2020 study, researchers divided volunteers into two groups. One group received a placebo, and the other group received a psychobiotic blend containing strains like Streptococcus thermophiles, Lactobacillus bulgaricus, and Lactobacillus plantarum.
Over 12 weeks, the group members taking the psychobiotic had reduced inflammation levels, and also showed improvements in their anxiety levels.
Other studies show that psychobiotics can improve anxiety by:
Stimulating the vagus nerve
Producing neurotransmitters, such as GABA and serotonin
Reducing stress hormone levels
Reducing inflammation, one of the major underlying causes of mental illness
Increasing BDNF levels
Crowding out pathogenic bacteria
Increasing nutrient production and absorption
The 6 most proven strains of prebiotics and probiotics for mood health
The most commonly researched species for mental health have been Bifidobacterium longum (B. longum), Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus helveticus, Lactobacillus plantarum, Bifodobacterium bifidum, and Bifidobacterium infantis.
Bifidobacterium longum acts as an anti-depressant and helps with anxiety by reducing cortisol.
A study found that mice with a persistent infection became more anxious. However, when given bifidobacterium longum, their anxiety decreased and their behavior returned to normal.
Studies have found bifidobacterium bifidum to help improve sleep and mood.
Studies have shown that poor sleep can impact mood health and increase anxiety levels. Sleep relies on gut health because the gut and brain produce the sleep hormone melatonin.
Bifidobacterium infantis makes and controls some chemicals in the brain that affect mood, like serotonin and GABA.
Bifidobacterium infantis also enhances the integrity of the gut lining, reducing the leakage of harmful substances into the bloodstream. This can prevent the activation of immune responses that may contribute to mental health issues.
Lactobacillus helveticus is a helpful bacteria that can lower stress and anxiety in people.
Research shows that a Western-style diet can negatively change the gut microbiome, increase brain inflammation, and contribute to anxiety. But lactobacillus helveticus can protect against this, by reducing both neuroinflammation and anxiety.
Lactobacillus acidophilus was shown in a study to improve depression symptoms and serum BDNF level in a group of hemodialysis patients.
Serum BDNF is a protein that is important for the growth and maintenance of brain neurons.
Research suggests that abnormal BDNF levels progress mental health disorders, including depression and anxiety.
In a study, researchers gave lactobacillus plantarum to patients with irritable bowel syndrome. It reduced anxiety and improved their quality of life.
Animal studies also show that lactobacillus plantarum can cause positive changes in emotional behaviors and significantly reduce anxiety-like behaviors. It does this by increasing dopamine and serotonin, lowering stress hormone levels, and reducing inflammation.
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