The gut-brain axis is the process through which your brain communicates with the microbiota of your gut. This is why you feel the fluttering of butterflies when you’re giving a toast, or why you suddenly lose your appetite after hearing distressing news. This goes both ways. The microbiota of your gut also communicate to your brain. Studies show that taking probiotics help boost mental health and cognition.
HOW DO PROBIOTICS SUPPORT OUR BRAIN?
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You might be thinking that your stomach has its own mind, and you’re not wrong. The gut serves as the ENS and your second brain, so it’s important to give our primary brain the impression that everything is fine down there. If one component is healthy, it ensures smooth operations of other components. There are some strains of probiotics that we know more about than others, such as the Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus strains. These are called the “psychobiotic” strains because of their prospective health benefits.
PROBIOTIC STRAINS & THE SCIENCE BEHIND THEM
Here is what science says about probiotics and the connection between the gut and the brain:
|PROBIOTIC STRAIN||SCIENCE SAYS|
|L. helveticus||Tests show that rats that were injected with L. helveticus appeared to have a decline in anxiety scores. However, another study conducted in 2017 found no difference.|
|L. acidophilus||It may help lower cholesterol and can support nutrient absorption.|
|L. plantarum||This has been suggested to increase dopamine and serotonin in mice, plus they have reduced anxious behavior when they are in the maze.|
|L. reuteri||It is known to reduce pain in mice and it can help increase excitability.|
|B. infantis||It increases relaxation in rats and helps treat irritable bowel syndrome.|
|B. bifidum||It helps generate vitamins such as K and B-12, which may also influence the mood.|
|B. longum||It may reduce depression and anxiety and helps people with IBS.|
CRASH COURSE TO BECOME PROBIOTIC PRO
Probiotics are usually fermented, and they can easily be incorporated just by getting creative with meals.
|A meal with kombucha||lactobacillus|
|Burger or sandwich with extra pickles||L. plantarum|
|Smoothie with kefir||B. infantis, lactobacillus, or B. bifidum|
|Greek Yogurt||B. infantis, lactobacillus, or B. bifidum|
|Rice dishes or noodles with kimchi||L. plantarum|
|Pizza with saUerkraut||L. plantarum, B. bifidum|
We should take into consideration that each and every one of us has different microbiome. It’s good to eat the suggested food, but it shouldn’t be eaten all the time. This is especially true if you’re just getting started on actively consuming probiotics. Try a little bit here and there to see how your body reacts. You may experience gas, constipation and bloating. If you don’t experience these symptoms, then slowly incorporate more and more foods.
DEALING WITH SUPPLEMENTS
The content of a probiotic supplement is usually a mixture of a few bacteria types. The suggested daily dosage of these supplements ranges from one billion to ten billion CFU (Colony Forming Unit). Probiotic supplements also frequently comprise a combination of probiotic strains.
When taking a probiotic supplement, you should start with a single dose to see what your body’s reaction will be. After ensuring you won’t have a negative reaction, you can take the rest of the dose.
At first, the effect of the probiotic supplement may be a bit underwhelming. You may even experience sudden stomach aches that will turn your body upside down. However, if you continuously take them, they’re guarantee to make a difference on your bloating.
WHEN TO TAKE YOUR PROBIOTICS
Research suggests that it is best to take your probiotics when you are eating. A 2011 experiment showed that taking the supplement 30 minutes before your meal, or alongside your meal, ensures the best effects. If you’re the kind of person that easily forgets to take your pills, try associating it with a certain activity, such as brushing your teeth or eating breakfast.
Always remember that it takes time to feel the benefits of probiotics. Gut health and probiotics are closely linked with each other for immune purposes. This is very important for our body’s ability to fight diseases. If you incorporate probiotics into your diet regularly, then you are on your way to achieving optimal health.