Probiotics have been all the rage for several years now, but just what do they really do? First of all, probiotics are made up of live, beneficial bacteria. Most of us are familiar with them as an aid in digestive health. Yogurt and kimchi (a Korean side dish of vegetables) are both good sources of probiotics, but these good bacteria are also available in powder and pill form.
Probiotics ferment fiber and generate nutrients for the cells that line the human digestive tract while also helping to shape our immunity systems.
Probiotics for Mental Health
Many people have experienced that being emotionally upset may also cause an upset stomach. Some also believe that by aiding the digestive tract, probiotics can help calm depression and anxiety. Some professionals now believe there could be more of a connection between probiotics and mental health than previously known.
Recent research has revealed that the good bacteria in the intestines, which have a nervous system of their own, may be sending signals to the central nervous system and up to the brain, resulting in a more overall calmness.
Maintaining Consistency of Probiotics
While you may eat one cup of yogurt a day, that doesn’t mean you are taking in the same amount of probiotics per day. This is also true when taking a pill form of probiotics. Why? Probiotics are not considered a drug, but rather a food supplement. Therefore, the Food and Drug Administration does not regulate them.
Still, it is better to follow a prescribed pattern of use for either digestive or mental health or both. Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are the most common forms of probiotics in the US, but there are many others also available. Read labels, and try to continue with the same probiotics, if possible.
While there isn’t yet any specific proof that probiotics aid in mental health or mood, more studies are underway. It is clear that probiotics help many people with digestive health. Taking a prescribed amount as a digestive aide may, too, help with anxiety and depression. However, those under the care of a psychiatrist or social worker should remain in therapy, and if taking an anti-depressant or anti-anxiety medication, patients should not stop unless under the direction of their doctor.
Adding regular doses of probiotics to your daily routine just may help when experiencing some depression or anxiety. If you would like to learn more about probiotics for depression and anxiety, and the use of these good bacteria in functional medicine to treat the whole body, contact the offices of Apollo Medical Associates.
Set up an appointment with one of our doctors to see how lifestyle choices can help you with a holistic approach to whole-body healthiness, today!