(part 3 of 3, Probiotics Series)

Now that you know what probiotics are, how to increase their presence in your body, and are fully aware of the large number of benefits that they bring with them – what’s left?

In the second article of this series, we briefly touched on another benefit that is harder to see but just as important – there is a strong connection between your gut, brain, and immune system.  This means your mood, immunity to outside pathogens, and digestive system can all affect each other.  In fact, having poor gut health can lead to diminished mood, depression, and even a decline in mental health.  In essence, you should be able to change what you are feeling by changing what you are eating.

Kirsten Tillisch, a gastroenterologist at the University of California in Los Angeles, was intrigued by the dramatic effects a change in beneficial bacteria levels can have on mood.  To test this idea, she performed a study using animals with gastrointestinal inflammation.  Prior to being given probiotics, the animals were acting very anxious.  After the probiotics were administered, Tillisch witnessed a significant increase in mood, and the anxiety practically vanished.

The results looked promising, so Tillisch recently completed another study, but this time used human women.  A randomized group comprised of 45 women between the ages of 18 and 50 made up the experiment, and none of the women had a history of psychiatric problems or medical illnesses.  Tillisch found that the women would respond differently to images of sad or angry faces after taking probiotics, as evidenced by brain scans before and after the experiment.  The study suggests that perhaps probiotics can have a powerful effect on your mind and alter the way your brain works.

 

The Mind/Body Connection Is Physical
The link goes beyond mood and things you cannot see, however.  Your brain and gut share the same type of tissue, and are connected through the vagus nerve, which goes from your brain stem all the way down to your abdominal area.

Researchers believe this piece of information is key in finding out the correlation between neurological disorders such as ADHD and autism, and gastrointestinal problems that frequently arise in patients suffering from those disorders.  Patients with autism, for example, frequently develop a gluten intolerance that can only be treated by following a gluten-free eating schedule.

As infants, the levels of microflora can determine how healthy and strong the baby’s immune system will be throughout his or her entire life.  The most critical time period is within the first 20 or so days, and that’s why it’s important to continue eating foods with live cultures such as yogurt or milk even while pregnant.  If a baby has a weakened immune system and does not have sufficient beneficial bacteria, he or she could suffer damages from vaccinations because the immune system is not properly developed.

Not enough importance is placed on ingesting adequate amounts of probiotics, but health experts and consumers alike are now starting to see that there is indeed something powerful about the changes that take place in your body after taking beneficial bacteria.

By keeping your body’s bacteria levels balanced, you will literally be quite happy and healthy.

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