It has been found that gut bacteria have a marked influence on the brain. Though it is hard to believe, a healthy gut is a sign of good mental health.
Bacteria that are found in food can have an effect on the mind via the gut. Women who consumed yogurt which contained probiotics showed evidence of a different mindset.
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This study has been conducted by scientists with the Gail and Gerald Oppenheimer Family Center for Neurobiology of Stress, part of the UCLA Division of Digestive Diseases, and the Ahmanson–Lovelace Brain Mapping Center at UCLA.
The study appeared in the current online edition of the peer-reviewed journal Gastroenterology.
Changing the microbiota in the gut serves to change the chemicals in the brain. Our gut has not been called our second brain for nothing. It has its own instinctual thinking and intuitive awareness.
This research will serve to improve nutritional and pharmaceutical strategies that will aid mental health in the future. The common container of yogurt kept in the fridge for enjoying at some time or another is often indulged in for its calcium or health benefits.
Yet did you know that it might help us in many other ways as well. Yogurt may change our brain and the way it reacts to the outer world. Such sayings as “you are your diet” or “gut instinct” are thus not just old wives’ tales but have their basis in fact.
The brain shares an intimate connection with the gut. That is why when we are emotionally upset, our stomach also starts rumbling or butterflies start fluttering in it.
Up until now, this was only known through experiments on animals. Now though, human beings are being put beneath the microscope.
Many times it has been seen that a person says that he never faced depression or anxiety until his gastrointestinal problems flared up. The gut-brain bond is such that it works both ways.
About 36 women between the ages of 18 and 55 took part in the study. They were split up into three groups. One group ate a container of yogurt containing probiotics twice daily for a month.
The second group ate a dairy product that looked like yogurt but had no probiotics in it. The third group ate no such thing as yogurt or dairy products. MRI scans were done on the ladies.
There was a change in the brain scans of the women who ate the probiotic yogurt as compared to the other two control groups. Their brains functioned differently than the others. It appears to be the case that signals are sent from the intestines to the brain and vice versa.
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The benefits of consuming yogurt on a daily basis included reduction in anxiety levels. Such diseases as chronic pain, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s not mention autism can be handled via a change in gut bacteria.