Can probiotics reduce anxiety? That is what recent research suggests. Early research on the gut-brain connection that was conducted on mice* found that mice fed probiotics had a significant increase in stress resistance. In other words they didn’t get stressed out as easily as the control group that were not fed probiotics when faced with a stressful situation. More recent studies on humans have found that supplementing with probiotics (specifically Lactobacillus bulgaricus, Bifidobacterium animalis, Lactococcus lactis, and Streptococcus thermophilus) for four weeks, demonstrated improved processing activity in the areas of the brain responsible for controlling emotion, sensation and anxiety.
Though the pathways are still unknown, there is strong evidence that the communication between the gut and the brain is a two way street. It is well known that chronic stress and anxiety have a negative effect on one’s gastrointestinal system, and now it seems evident that a poor gastrointestinal environment may have a negative impact on one’s mental health as well.
There is a correlation between a healthy diet and healthy biota in the gut. Dr. Emeran Mayer, a professor of medicine (digestive diseases), physiology and psychiatry at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA makes the connection:
*Please note: I am strongly opposed to animal testing!