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June 06, 2021 4 min read

Probiotics and Their Benefits for the Brain-Gut Axis





 The subject of mental health in human beings is no longer taboo, evidencing a change not only in health professionals, but also in those people willing to ask for and receive help in this field.

As it has already been demonstrated on many occasions, the world of nutraceuticals can be very beneficial to prevent and improve the symptoms of many existing mental disorders. Within this world of nutritional supplements, probiotics have also been found to be able to provide valuable support in this field.

Being answers to questions like how to improve gut health, how to restore gut health, and how probiotic supplements are helpful for health, these result in more complex questions such as “how can elements that act at an intestinal level help to solve problems that are generated at a mental level?”

Well, in this post you will find the answers to this and many other questions you may have in mind.

So, let's begin!

Currently, the term probiotic refers to a preparation or a product containing viable strains of microorganisms in sufficient quantity to alter the microflora in some compartment of the host (by implantation or colonization) and to produce beneficial effects in that host.

However, international health organizations define them as: "live microorganisms, which when administered in adequate amounts, confer health benefits to the host" (1).

This latter concept does not confine probiotics to the gastrointestinal system alone, but highlights them from a more general point of view.

With the awakening of psychoneuroimmunology (PNI), or rather psychoneuroendocrineimmunology, which refers to nothing more than the communication between the nervous system, endocrine system, and immune system, experts in the matter have been able to access a field of research that is much more open and separate from the old schemes.

For several years now, the idea has been discussed that everything that happens in the intestine has a certain degree of repercussion on the other systems of the organism, including the nervous system, executor of stimuli, thoughts, ideas, and emotions (2, 3, 4, 5, 6).

This has opened the door to the concept of psychobiotics, originally known as that subset of probiotics that, once ingested, conferees mental health benefits by interacting with the intestinal microflora. However, this definition has expanded to include prebiotics and other means of benefiting mental health (7).

Multiple links have been discovered between the gut microorganism population and the brain, indicating that this communication is bidirectional and mediated by neuronal and humoral mechanisms.

Specific pathways of communication include (2, 5):

  • Direct activation of neural pathways. Through the vagus nerve, sensory innervation of the gastrointestinal tract is achieved by responding to hormones, cytokines, microbial signals, and mechanical stimuli. This nexus is known as the microbiota-gut-brain axis.
  • Microbial metabolism of nutrients and production of circulating mediators. Certain microbial strains have been found to be capable of producing neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA), dopamine, noradrenaline, among others.
  • Immune activation and production of circulating inflammatory mediators. The intestinal microflora influences the generation, maturation, and function of numerous immune cells, which in turn modify the balance and metabolic activity of these microorganisms. This reciprocal relationship is also associated with certain inflammatory and autoimmune processes for the mental well-being of the individual.

Advances in this area have attracted so much attention from the scientific community that studies have already been carried out in search of using probiotics, or psychobiotics, in favor of human mental health, as they are related to specific psychological disorders (7).

Recognized research based on the administration of various probiotic formulas to healthy subjects, showed as a result, a lower rate of sad and aggressive thoughts, as well as a reduction in the emotional changes of the individuals. At the end of the studies, participants considered themselves to be happier overall (8, 9, 10).

The use of probiotic health supplements has also been tested in students subjected to high levels of academic stress, showing a decrease in the related negative parameters at the end of the studies (11).

Regarding anxiety disorders, several research reviews have shown the promising role of probiotics in reducing the symptoms reported by these patients. The benefits were most evident in those suffering from gastrointestinal disorders associated with anxiety and stress such as irritable bowel syndrome (12, 13).

The evidence reflected in multiple scientific investigations, as well, reflects that probiotic-based supplementation is capable of both preventing and reducing depressive symptoms. The mechanisms at work, although not fully elucidated, point to beneficial modulation of the intestinal microflora involved in the pathophysiology of depression, thus decreasing inflammatory markers and increasing the availability of serotonin (14, 15, 16, 17).

As you may have noticed, the administration of probiotic health supplements has not only provided benefits at the gastrointestinal level, but also at the mental level. Although many experts consider that further research on the subject is necessary, these preparations are already beginning to be considered as adjuvant options in the treatment of multiple emotional disorders.

So, if you were interested in knowing how to improve & restore your gut health, this was the right post for you. Now you have no choice but to include one of the best probiotic supplements for adults in your daily life! And you can find it by clicking here.

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