Beyond the joy brought by John Stamos hallucinations, as suggested by pushers of probiotic-packed Greek yogurt, microintestinal bugs might actually make you happier. Recent research suggests that probiotics may soothe the mind as well as the gut. The study, published in Gastroenterology, was noted by thecandidadiet.com.
For four weeks, University of California, Los Angeles researchers gave a fermented milk product containing Bifidobacterium animalis, Streptococcus thermophiles, Lactobacillus bulgaricus, and Lactococcus lactis to healthy women with no bastrointestinal or psychiatric symptoms. They also included a control group. With functional magentic resonance imaging, they measured the women's brains responses to tests using emotional faces and their resting brain activity. (John Stamos' face was not included in the tests.) Researchers performed multivariate and region of interest analysis.
They found that taking the probiotics did affect the brain regions that control the central processing of emotion and sensation. The bugs reduced the brain's response, which suggests that probiotics may play a powerful role in modulating pain sensitivity, stress responsiveness, mood and anxiety, write the researchers in the article.
This is the first study showing these types of results in people. In 2011, Irish researchers found that mice fed probiotics had a lower physiological response to stress than mice who had not taken probiotics. The mice who ate the probiotics not only produced fewer stress hormones, but even had more anxiety-reducing receptors in their little brains.