How Gut Bacteria Affects Your Mood and Body

If you had to guess which part of your body  affects your mood, what would be your first guess? Your brain? Sure, brain chemicals obviously affect our mood, but did you know your gut bacteria is believed to play a significant role? Several recent studies have shown gut bacteria has a real impact on our mood, especially in relation to depression and anxiety.

One study conducted by University College Cork in Ireland fed one group of mice lactobacillus rhamnosus (a bacteria commonly found in yogurt) and one group of mice a bacteria-free broth and then put them through various stressful obstacle courses. The mice fed the bacteria were more relaxed, less anxious, less stressed, and more likely to complete the obstacles than the mice who were fed a bacteria-free broth.

Another study at UCLA conducted on three groups of healthy women showed significantly different brain function on those who were fed probiotics. One group of women ate a probiotic-rich yogurt two times per day for four weeks while a second group ate a non-probiotic milk product. A third group of women ate their regular diet. Four weeks later the women’s brains were scanned and the women who ate the probiotic rich yogurt showed a huge difference in stress response to resting and active emotion recognition.

Probiotics have been used for years to balance gut bacteria and many of us use them for aiding digestion, but these recent studies show a real link between gut bacteria and mood. So, next time you’re feeling down or anxious, reach for a yogurt or pop a probiotic. You might just find it boosts your mood and helps you feel more calm.

Want to learn more about how gut bacteria affects your health? Check out the infographic below, courtesy of The Huffington Post.

Mandy Ellis is a certified nutritionist, journalist, traveler, and endless adventurer. Her work has appeared on Yahoo, AOL, Fox, and many others. When she’s not wanderlusting, she’s usually spending time with her French bull dog or hitting the yoga mat.
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