What’s Bugging You? The surprising effect of how healthy gut bacteria helps with mood such as depression, anxiety and ways to support a healthy gut. By Ann Keating, Nutritionist & Health Coach at Lotus Point Wellness, Inc.
You probably know that your mind and emotions can affect your digestion and gut bacteria, but did you know it works the other way too: healthy gut bacteria helps with mood. Here are 3 simple ways to support healthy gut bacteria and manage moods!
Studies on digestive health and brain function gained momentum several years ago, as researchers and parents alike sought solutions for children with autism, ADHD, or other learning disabilities. Several diets designed to reduce gut bacteria inflammation have been developed that indeed improve these symptoms for many, but the hot new research is focusing on probiotics and mood. Scientists are exploring the idea that “bad” bacteria actually cause bad moods and certain “good” bacteria bring on the good feelings, and greater ability to tolerate stress.
It may be hard for you to believe that these little guys that you can’t see or feel can have such a profound effect, but they do affect mood, mood so consider the numbers: there are approximately 100 trillion microorganisms living in your gut, which outnumbers your own cells by 10 to 1. And, they possess 100 times as many genes. They have their own metabolism, which affects your hormones, and neurotransmitter levels.
Eating specific probiotics has been found to create healthy gut bacteria which helps lift mood.
Specific probiotics have been found to act as delivery vehicles for neuroactive compounds (which stimulate the nervous system), and certain probiotic compounds actually secrete these compounds. For example, in animal models Bifidobacterium infantis was found to increase the serotonin precursor, tryptophan. Serotonin is the feel-good neurotransmitter, and many antidepressants work by increasing its availability in the body. Another strain, Lactobacillus rhamnosus has been found to reduce anxiety by altering expression of the GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) receptors. GABA is the main calming neurotransmitter, which curbs runaway thoughts and anxiety. In another study, people who took a combination of the probiotics Lactobacillus helveticus and Bifidobacterium longum for 30 days experienced decreased depression and anxiety. (Life Extension has a probiotic supplement called Florassist Mood containing these two strains).
Fermented food, such as yogurt or kimchee, creates healthy gut bacteria and helps with mood regulation.
Having a daily serving of a fermented food is a good idea for mood support. In one study, individuals who consumed yogurt with live cultures for three weeks, and who had the lowest mood at the beginning of the study, reported that they were happy rather than depressed after taking the yogurt. Other fermented food choices include kefir, fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut (not the cooked kind) and kimchee, fermented pickles such as Bubbies brand, tempeh, miso, and the drink Kombucha.
Fiber Feeds Good Bacteria, so eat 35 grams a day!
You also need to eat adequate fiber to feed those bacteria, 35 grams a day. Take a fiber supplement if needed to reach this level. RenewLife has several good choices.
Healthy gut bacteria affects mood.
The main point here, is that whether or not you experience digestive symptoms, building the right environment where healthy gut bacteria can flourish, can have a big impact on your brain and mood. Keeping in mind these 3 simple ways to support healthy gut bacteria can go a long way towards an overall feeling of health and wellbeing. A healthy gut is an essential component to mood repair, and the ability to handle stress without being overwhelmed.