31 December 2015 Comments Off on Probiotics For Mental and Physical Health

Probiotics For Mental and Physical Health

pobsMost people are aware of the potential benefits for the digestive and immune systems of taking probiotics regularly. However, it seems that a daily dose of these tiny micro-organisms can also have benefits for those suffering from depression and anxiety or simply experiencing feelings of sadness and low mood.

While the probiotic products we see most often are the probiotic drinks and ‘live’ yogurts in supermarkets and health food stores, the specialist team at Eastland Family Chiropractic say that there are a couple of reasons why you need to think carefully before choosing either of these as your main source of probiotics.

  • Firstly, not all probiotics are created equal! There are many different strains, some of which are better for digestive symptoms, others for immune system boosting and others for mental well-being.
  • Secondly, sugar (which is known to be a major inflammatory ingredient in our diets), is often high on the list of ingredients in live yogurts and probiotic drinks!

Butterflies and That ‘Sinking Feeling’

Most of us have experienced that feeling of excitement or nervousness we describe as ‘butterflies’ and unfortunately, many of us will also have experienced that ‘sinking feeling’ when something has gone horribly wrong! We also talk about ‘having a gut feeling’ about good and bad situations, people and places.

Perhaps it is not surprising then that scientists have discovered that we have a ‘second brain’ the Enteric Nervous System which is a giant network of neurons that span the whole length of our digestive system and which is in direct contact with our brain, all of the time.

It used to be thought, that this second brain was solely responsible for taking care of the processes that regulate our digestive systems. Now, research has shown that it is responsible for keeping a check on the trillions of good and bad bacterial microbes that line our intestines and that the right balance of these bacteria is vital for our mental health and wellbeing.

What are the Benefits of Probiotics?

As we mentioned already, the right balance between good and bad bacteria is important. Scientists already knew that an imbalance could cause major health problems including digestive issues such as IBS, Crohn’s Disease and many other problems. Having an imbalance in gut micro-flora is also known to be a contributory factor in both Celiac disease and in Diabetes.

New research is pointing to an important link between a healthy microbiome (all the bacteria in the gut) and good mental health. Research has shown that having an unhealthy microbiome with too few bacteria in general (perhaps as a result of antibiotic use) or with too many of the ‘bad’ bacteria, has a strong link with mental health problems such as clinical depression and anxiety.

Two recent research studies had interesting findings on the benefits of probiotics:

A study, done by researchers at a University in Vancouver, Canada demonstrated that fermented foods (such as kefir, natto and sauerkraut) had a beneficial effect in reducing social anxiety levels among students. The effect was greatest, among subjects who ate the fermented foods and took healthy exercise.

A Dutch team of researchers working with young adults experiencing mental health problems, (specifically, mood disorders), found that using eight strains of probiotic bacteria in a single daily supplement, lowered levels of anxiety and depression as well as levels of the stress hormone Cortisol.

How to Choose a Probiotic

It can be difficult choosing the right probiotic strain or combination of strains for the maximum benefit for your specific health problem. Patients of Eastland Family Chiropractic frequently ask for help because of confusion over the large number of different supplements available and the widely differing prices of products too.

It is important to get the best combination right away, to avoid any delay in experiencing the benefits and the risk of wasting money on supplements that simply do not bring the health improvements you had hoped for. At Eastland, you will find help, not only on correct supplementation but also, on a range of things you can do to begin adding more probiotic-rich foods to your diet. Remember that probiotics can benefit everyone, children, adults and the elderly. Eastland Family Chiropractic can help all the family feel better – so call us today on 03 9095 7990.

Comments are closed.