Did you know that one in five people in the U.S. report suffering from anxiety every year?1 While many people believe that mental illnesses are a product of circumstance or brain structure, there is another player in the game that can make or break your mental health. Gut health is directly tied to brain health due to the gut-brain axis, which is the “bidirectional communication network between the central and autonomic nervous systems and the intestines”2. The gut plays a huge role in the development of neurotransmitters, so when the bacterial environment of the gut is thrown off due to diet or other factors, the brain is also thrown off. Researchers at the Joslin Center of Harvard Medical School studied how a high-fat diet can affect the gut bacteria and what implications that can have on the brain. They found that “giving the animals antibiotics — which changed the composition of their gut bacteria — reduced inflammation, improved ‘insulin signaling in the brain,’ and reduced ‘signs of anxiety and depression’ [in the animals]”3. By altering the bacterial environment of the gut, the anxious and depressive symptoms of the rats were lifted. While the study used antibiotics to make this change, probiotics would be a healthier way to make that change because rather than wiping out all the bacteria in the gut, probiotics help replace the harmful bacteria with good bacteria. So cleaning up one’s diet and taking probiotics that target this gut-brain axis, one has the potential to significantly reduce their symptoms of mental disorders like anxiety and depression.
If you would like more information about the best probiotic to take for this, feel free to reach out!