I know I talk a lot about probiotics. Heck, I’ve written an entire book on the topic. But the research supporting their use continues to mount. And until they become as commonly recommended as taking vitamin C for a cold, I’ll continue to trumpet their benefits.
Especially the following two new studies…the first of which shows how simply supplementing with a multi-strain probiotic could make a substantial dent in the growing number of adults and children taking anti-depressant meds.
The first study looked at how a probiotic may be associated with fewer feelings of sadness and a lessened focus on bad feelings and experiences from the past (a process known as rumination, which is a major predictor of depression).
Honestly, I can’t begin to tell you how many of my patients suffer from anxiety and depression — some say it’s just because we live in NYC, but it’s more than that: Stress and anxiety are a major part of life today, no matter where you live.
In the study, researchers gave 40 participants sachets containing either probiotic powder or placebo powder (which they mixed with water or milk). They filled out a mood-based questionnaire before and after the four-week study. And the group that got the probiotics mixture experienced significantly fewer ruminative thoughts.
Said one of the study’s authors: “Even if preliminary, these results provide the first evidence that the intake of probiotics may help reduce negative thoughts associated with sad mood. As such, our findings shed an interesting new light on the potential of probiotics to serve as adjuvant or preventive therapy for depression.”
Honestly, why wouldn’t they? It amazes me that the conventional medical world is finally starting to understand the importance of the gut in so many aspects of our health. The gut acts as our second brain and, in fact, produces more of the happy chemical, serotonin, than our brains do.
If something as simple as a probiotic can reduce negative thoughts associated with a sad mood, we may never need to resort to chemicals that affect brain chemistry — especially when we don’t know the long-term side effects associated with doing so. This could be a tremendous breakthrough, especially with our children, as so many of them are being put on these drugs as if they were candy.
Meanwhile, the second recent study to come out highlights just how necessary it is to actually supplement with probiotics in today’s modern era…
Researchers showed that a modern Western diet and lifestyle is linked to a lower diversity of bacteria in the gut.
These researchers analyzed the gut microbiota of a group of US residents, as well as a group of residents in rural, non-industrialized Papua New Guinea. They found that those in Papua New Guinea actually had greater bacterial diversity. In addition, US residents lacked approximately 50 bacterial types that belonged to the core microbiome in Papua New Guineans.
Some of the reasons the researchers discussed are quite simple — we live too clean and sterile a lifestyle. This can inhibit the growth of diverse species of bacteria that are so crucial for our health. The examples the authors use are interesting: diet, sanitation, and clinical practices such as antibiotic use and caesarean sections — all things we think are good for us, but aren’t. (And I won’t even start on hand sanitizer.
My advice remains what it has been for years–use a live, well-diversified probiotic, like my favorite, Dr. Ohirra’s, and you’ll be helping yourself to be as healthy as you can be. (Plus, you’ll likely be in a better mood.)
If all this has piqued your probiotic interest, check out the May issue of my monthly Logical Health Alternatives newsletter for more on the benefits of probiotics. Including their role in everything from cancer to immune health . If you’re a paid subscriber, you can access this issue—and the complete archive—by visiting www.drpescatore.com and logging in to the Subscriber area of the website. And if you’re not already a subscriber, you can sign up securely by clicking here.
Nederlandse Vereniging voor Psychonomie (NVP). “People less focused on recurrent bad feelings when taking probiotics.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 April 2015. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/04/150414083718.htm
Cell Press. “Western lifestyle may limit the diversity of bacteria in the gut.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 April 2015. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/04/150416132203.htm