Probiotics have grown in popularity in recent years. To gain the potential benefits of probiotic foods like yogurt or kimchi, you may currently consume a lot of them or take a daily probiotic pill. Probiotics, or helpful bacteria, are naturally present in your body, particularly in your digestive tract. In your body, healthy bacteria, or probiotics, coexist with potentially dangerous microorganisms. Disruptions in this balance may contribute to a variety of health problems.
In recent years, some specialists have focused their attention on a subset of probiotics known as psychobiotics. These bacteria may be able to treat a variety of mental health issues, including depression, as well as improve your overall mood.
How do they function?
You may be wondering how microorganisms known to promote gut health might affect mental health problems. Several specialists believe there is a strong link between your gut, or gastrointestinal tract, and your brain. The gut-brain axis is the name given to this link (GBA). It connects your central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) to your gastrointestinal tract.
Scientists believe that bacteria in your gut, notably probiotics, play an important role in GBA by:
- generating and expressing neurotransmitters that influence appetite, mood, and sleeping patterns.
- lowering inflammation in your body, which can lead to depression by impairing cognitive performance and stress response.
- It is unknown how probiotics do these tasks, however according to a 2015 research review.
According to research, the GBA could be the “missing link” in our understanding of depression and its origins. Further research is being conducted on this subject. Existing research on probiotics for depression and other mental health issues is encouraging, but many of the studies are small. This makes determining how effective probiotics are for depression difficult.
One trial in the evaluation looked at a “prebiotic,” which is a form of plant fibre that feeds gut microorganisms. Scientists determined that 11 of these probiotics, either alone or in combination with prebiotics, had the potential to alleviate depressive symptoms, by lowering inflammation that could alter brain function. The studies were modest and brief, but put together, they imply that a gut-based approach to emotional well-being is worthwhile to pursue. In the meantime, talk therapy, exercise, and pharmaceuticals continue to be the most effective treatments for depression. Enjoy foods that naturally contain probiotics, such as yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut, to support your gut health without spending money on expensive probiotic supplements. Whole grains’ prebiotic properties may also help to maintain a healthy gut.
According to the findings of a small 2017 trial, the probiotic Bifidobacterium longum NCC3001 may improve quality of life and lessen depressive symptoms in persons with irritable bowel syndrome.
Those with serious depression took a probiotic supplement comprising three bacteria strains for eight weeks in a small 2016 research. At the end of the trial, the majority had decreased Beck Depression Inventory scores, a typical means of assessing depression symptoms. A 2017 review of data on how probiotics affect depression symptoms discovered that taking a daily probiotic pill seems to aid with symptoms of both depression and anxiety.
Probiotics also appeared to function best when combined with other therapies, such as medicine and psychotherapy. Each of these research authors agrees that larger trials are needed to further understand how probiotics can influence symptoms of depression and other mental health disorders.
Researchers are currently striving to find certain probiotics that may aid mental health. Because no two probiotic strains are the same, it is critical to figure out which ones work best for you.
Furthermore, dose recommendations are based on the usage of probiotics for digestive disorders. Finding the right dosages for depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues will be another key area of research.
This field of research can be particularly challenging because people do not all experience mental health symptoms in the same manner. Probiotics may have different impacts on different people. Genetics, bacterial exposure, and life experiences can all influence the specific composition of your gut flora. This, in turn, may influence both your depression symptoms and which probiotics will work best for you.
How can you experiment with probiotics for depression?
If you are thinking about using probiotic pills for depression, you should consult with your doctor first. Probiotics are regarded as safe to use, but it is always a good idea to consult with your doctor before taking any new supplement or prescription.
Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium bacteria were revealed to be the most beneficial for mental health in research trials. Probiotic blends that contain strains of both are available on Amazon and other online sites too.
You can also try eating more probiotic foods, such as:
If you decide to take a supplement, make sure to follow the manufacturer’s dosage instructions. There is no evidence that consuming more than the prescribed dose provides any additional benefits. Probiotics may be beneficial, but they are not a substitute for therapy, medication, or other depression treatments. You may see an improvement in your symptoms after starting probiotics, but it is critical to continue with any other therapies.
This is especially true if you are on antidepressant medication. Stopping these drugs abruptly can have major psychological and physical consequences. Instead, collaborate with your healthcare practitioner to devise a strategy that will allow you to gradually taper off your medication if that is something you want to do.
Do probiotics have any negative side effects?
In general, probiotics have no negative side effects. When they do, they are often gentle.
While taking a probiotic supplement, some people may experience bloating, gas, or diarrhea for a few days.
Avoid using the supplement if you have any of the following symptoms:
- stomach pain, gas, or persistent bloating. Gastrointestinal distress in general.
If you feel stomach pain, persistent gas or bloating, or other gastrointestinal distress, discontinue use and consult your doctor before restarting.
You may be taking too many probiotic strains or need to switch to a new blend. If you take more than the suggested dose, you may have pain, gas, and bloating.
Is there any danger involved? Is it harmful
Probiotics are safe because they already exist in your body. They are also in a lot of items you already eat. If you have a weaker immune system or cancer, you should avoid probiotics to avoid overloading your system. They can also interact with some drugs, such as antibiotics and antifungal therapies.
It is usually a good idea to consult with your doctor before beginning any new supplement, especially if you are:
pregnant, breastfeeding, and suffering from a chronic illness.
While speaking with your provider, make sure to disclose any prescriptions you are taking, including over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and any supplements.
Probiotics have the potential to be an effective treatment for depression and other mental health issues. Further research, however, is required to properly determine how effective they are.
In the meantime, if you are wanting to add a new component to your depression treatment regimen, it might be worth taking a probiotic supplement. Please remember to continue with any other ongoing therapies.
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