Probiotics can help stress-related gastrointestinal disorders according to a new study by University of Michigan researchers. Though stress doesn't cause irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, the study showed it does mess with brain-gut reactions enough to kick off the intestinal inflammation that often leads to chronic belly pain, loss of appetite, diarrhea and other unpleasantness.
The stress of an idiot boss, tantruming two-year-old, tax season or simply the impending doom of global warming can suppress an important component called an inflammasome in your gut. Inflammasomes are needed to maintain normal gut microbiota. In the Michigan study, probiotics reversed the inflammasome-squashing effect in animal models. The findings are published online ahead of print in Gastroenterology.
"The effect of stress could be protected with probiotics which reversed the inhibition of the inflammasome," says senior study author and gastroenterologist John Y. Kao, M.D., associate professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan in a release. "This study reveals an important mechanism for explaining why treating IBS patients with probiotics makes sense."
While this study scores another point for probiotics and gut health, the jury's still out on whether the friendly bugs can help lower cholesterol, reports the New York Times.