Most folks are familiar with probiotics these days. You might even know that the bacteria found in your gut play an important role in your overall health.
But chances are you didn’t realize a better belly bug balance could literally reverse, or in some cases even cure, certain conditions.
Following are two conditions that researchers tell us we may be able to fix with beneficial bacteria.
You don’t need me to tell you how your emotions can affect your gut. Who among us hasn’t felt dread in the pit of our stomach? Or had stress throw our entire digestive tract into turmoil?
But believe it or not that line of communication isn’t a one way street. Because what’s going on in your belly could have a huge impact on what’s going on in your brain, too.
Your gut bugs played a big role in your brain’s development, and to this day they can influence your behavior, your mood and even how you handle stress, anxiety and depression. And animal studies confirm that certain “good” bugs (probiotics)—or lack of them—are linked to cognition and mental health. 1,2,3,4,5 In fact, the brain-belly connection is so strong that some scientists even refer to the bacteria in our guts as “the second brain.”6
So it’s really no surprise that your belly bugs can have a big impact on your mental status, and whether or not you become depressed. But restoring balance to your gut flora could help you drive away that depression
For example, in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial probiotics significantly reduced symptoms in a group of folks suffering from major depression. For eight weeks the volunteers received a probiotic supplement containing two billion colony forming units of Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei, and Bifidobacterium bifidum.
The probiotic mix reportedly eased their depression symptoms, reduced inflammation and even had some positive impacts on their metabolisms. Regularly taking a probiotic, particularly a mix of these three good bugs, may help with your depression symptoms too.
2. Rheumatoid arthritis:
When you suffer from an autoimmune disease—such as rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes or multiple sclerosis—your body’s immune system turns on itself, and begins destroying its own healthy tissues and cells. And as different as these diseases may seem on the surface, it turns out gut bug imbalances could be the boogey man lurking behind all of them.7 Which may not be so surprising once you realize that 80 percent of your immune system is located on your digestive tract,
You see the bacteria in your colon directly communicate with the cells in your immune system. But when your gut bugs get knocked out of balance that communication suffers, and this can trigger the inflammation that eventually causes your immune system to begin misfiring.
More research is needed, but some studies suggest that introducing some good bugs could turn the tide against inflammation and autoimmune disease symptoms.8 For example, in one study the probiotic Lactobacillus casei Shirota had positive effects on the immune system and reduced inflammation, which may help reverse some autoimmune symptoms.9
1. “Normal gut microbiota modulates brain development and behavior,” Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Feb 15;108(7):3047-52
2. “Melancholic microbes: a link between gut microbiota and depression?,” Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2013 Sep;25(9):713-9
3. “Impact of consuming a milk drink containing a probiotic on mood and cognition,” Eur J Clin Nutr. 2007 Mar;61(3):355-61. Epub 2006 Dec 6.
4. “The intestinal microbiome, probiotics and prebiotics in neurogastroenterology,” Gut Microbes. 2013 Jan 1; 4(1): 17–27
5. “‘As above, so below’ examining the interplay between emotion and the immune system,” Immunology. 2014 Nov; 143(3): 311–318
6. “Gut Feelings: Bacteria and the Brain,” Cerebrum. 2013 Jul-Aug; 2013: 9
7. “Autoimmunity and the Gut,” Autoimmune Dis. 2014; 2014: 152428
8. “Any role for probiotics in the therapy or prevention of autoimmune diseases? Up-to-date review,” J Complement Integr Med. 2013 Aug 6;10. Pii
9. “Intestinal Microflora: Probiotics and Autoimmunity,” J. Nutr. March 2007, vol. 137 no. 3 798S-802S
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