Probiotics broaden an array of healthy bacteria in the gut, thus having a positive effect on our microbiome. How consuming probiotics can help combat depression and anxiety became a subject of importance for scientists in recent years.
Probiotics are live bacteria that are similar to the ones that dwell in our bodies. The main sources of probiotics are supplements or fermented foods like:
Both probiotics and prebiotics, are indigestible types of fiber serving as food for probiotics and promoting microbiome health.
The microbiome is a range of bacteria living in our gut, playing a fundamental part in digesting food, synthesizing vitamins, fending off potential pathogens, or harmful microorganisms. There are more bacteria in the digestive tract than the cells throughout the body.
The gut-brain connection was recognized a long time ago. Its vivid example is when you feel anxious, your stomach becomes “nervous” to, the result of chemical disbalance, caused by stress. Only now it is clear that the gut/brain axis has a two-way relationship.
The latest research looked over 71 studies, published between 2003 and 2019, finding a link between mental health, probiotics, and prebiotics consumption. In seven studies, compared with no treatments or placebo, pro/prebiotics eased symptoms of anxiety and depression. Now the purpose is to find out whether probiotics benefit mental health alone or in only in combination with prebiotics.
In conclusion, scientists note that people suffering from anxiety and depression, “should seek medical advice, and not try to treat themselves with dietary supplements, which are not of proven benefit” yet.