The Gut-Brain Connection—How Probiotics Improve Stress and Anxiety Naturally
Monday, June 26th, 2017
The Gut-Brain Connection is a new way of understanding how stress, anxiety, and depression are impacted by probiotic bacteria in the gut. What do your emotions have to do with your gut? Depression, anxiety, and negative emotions can be a sign that your body is missing nutrients and the right mix of probiotics.
The right probiotic bacteria produce substances that keep your moods healthy and balanced. Staying balanced is important for more than just sound mental health because just as your moods can keep you sick, being sick can impact your moods. With a little practice, you can learn how to assess your daily moods and be able to balance them naturally.
The Dangers of All-Pervasive Stress…
We now know that stress plays a larger role than we previously realized. A staggering 80% of disease is caused by stress. More and more we’re seeing how the bacteria in your gut respond negatively to stress. There are many types of stress, but today we’ll focus on emotional stress and your moods.
Your bioterrain is the environment inside your body. If your bioterrain is unhealthy from stress, lack of nutrients, and toxins, you’ve created an environment where unhealthy bacteria and yeasts can grow. This state makes your moods more negative and reduces your immunity, which makes you prone to more short and long term illnesses.
Yet, when your bioterrain is healthy and flourishing, you create an environment where probiotics can grow and thrive. They help keep you strong, resilient, and in a positive mental state.
What Science Shows Us
Two studies demonstrate the connection between stress and the gut. To test how microorganisms react to stress, scientist Mark Light filled Petri dishes with a bovine serum-based medium. He laced the dish with a strain of bacteria and to some of them added norepinephrine—a neurochemical that mammals produce when they are stressed. The next day he snapped a Polaroid. The results were obvious. The control plates with no norepinephrine were barren, but those with it bloomed with bacteria—clearly responding to the stress.
In another study, scientist John Kryon fed a small group of healthy rodents a broth with Lactobacillus rhamnosus. This common bacterium is found in humans and used to ferment milk into yogurt, and is one of the dominant organisms that babies get from the birth canal. Recent studies show that mice stressed in pregnancy pass lower levels of this bacterium to their pups. This type of bacteria is known to release immense quantities of GABA, a neurotransmitter that calms the nervous system.
Most anti-anxiety drugs like Valium and Xanax work by targeting GABA receptors. Kryon found that the mice that had been fed the bacterium broth were more relaxed, behaving as if they were on Prozac. These results suggest that the bacteria altered the neural chemistry of the mice.
The Gut-Brain Connection
Have you heard of the Gut-Brain Axis? It refers to a signaling pathway that takes place between GI tract and nervous system and often involves intestinal biota, which has been shown to play an important role in mental health. Bacteria produce serotonin, GABA, and dopamine to communicate with the nervous system using the gut-brain axis. GABA calms the nervous system. Serotonin regulates moods and is used for peristalsis, the squeezing that pushes food through the gastrointestinal tract. Dopamine regulates reward-motivated behavior. These neurotransmitters relay messages into the brain just like text messages, telling our body what to do and letting it know what’s going on.
These same neurotransmitters play a role in intestinal disorders which are correlated with depression, anxiety, autism, and hyperactivity. There are specific bacteria in the gut that are associated with these issues. The great news is that probiotic bacteria can reduce anxiety and help to reverse some of this by producing GABA, serotonin, and dopamine. It’s theorized that probiotics someday will be used as psychiatric drugs.
Bacteria secrete a profound number of chemicals besides these neurotransmitters. Lactic acid is one chemical that probiotics secrete that is a natural antibiotic and helps keep pathogenic populations from growing in the gut. It’s what makes yogurt and sauerkraut sour. Bad bacteria and yeasts secrete toxic chemicals that disrupt the nervous system and make you feel crummy, confused, anxious, depressed, and tired.
There are so many kinds of emotions—anger, annoyance, disgust, anxiety, fear, worry, doubt, frustration, sadness, shock, joy, empathy, love, courage, pride, calmness, relief, serenity, surprise….
To learn how to naturally balance your gut microbiome, please watch this webinar that I made.
What kinds of emotional stress are you under? By observing your stress levels you will begin to understand what is going on in your gut. Start taking a good probiotic supplement and notice what shifts with your moods.