Each year, around 62 million Americans are diagnosed with a digestive disorder. As we age, we become more susceptible to digestive issues.
Not only do digestive issues affect your physical health, but they can also affect your mental health. The gut and the mind have a strong connection, which is why many people turn to probiotics to improve their gut and their mood.
What are probiotics? And, how can probiotics improve your mental health and mood? Read on to find out!
Related: Probiotics for Indigestion
What are Probiotics?
Probiotics consist of live yeasts and bacteria that are beneficial for your digestive system. Our bodies contain good and bad bacteria, and probiotics are considered the “good” bacteria that keep your gut healthy.
Probiotics occur naturally in some foods and beverages, including kombucha, yogurt, tempeh, pickles, miso, kimchi, and kefir. You can also purchase probiotic shots.
What are the best probiotics to take after antibiotics? Click here to find out!
How Probiotics Help Your Mental Health and Mood
By consuming more probiotics from things like kombucha, yogurt and water kefir, you can improve your gut health. Here’s how probiotics, your gut health, and your mental health are all linked:
Gut Bacteria Speak to Your Brain
Gut bacteria work to break down food in your body, in particular, dietary fiber. They then transform the broken-down food into fatty acids and other metabolites. The fatty acids are then detected by your nerves, which send data to your brain, allowing for the regulation of digestive processes.
Gut Bacteria, Inflammation, and Depression
Your gut microbiome needs to be diverse, as diversity helps to keep things balanced. If your gut microbiome isn’t balanced, then something called dysbiosis may occur.
Dysbiosis is a condition in which microbes take over and multiply, resulting in inflammation. This is because your body doesn’t want these microbes, so your immune system is alerted, which results in inflammation.
Now, how does this relate to depression? Studies show that depression can cause inflammation. Therefore, controlling your inflammation can help control both your mood and anxiety levels.
By consuming foods with probiotics, you can control your inflammation and hopefully, improve your mental health.
Related: Can Probiotics Cause Gas?
The Vagus Nerve
The vagus nerve connects your brain and gut. This nerve plays a major role in the autonomic nervous system, which helps you breathe, swallow, and digest food.
The vagus nerve also helps you send messages from your brain to your colon, and vice versa. The connection established by the vagus nerve means that the gut-brain axis plays a vital role in your mental health, as well as other illnesses that affect the brain.
It also explains why stress can take a toll on your digestion and why digestive problems can make you unhappy.
Gut Microbes Regulate Your Happy Hormones
As we mentioned earlier, gut microbes transform some of the food you eat into short-chain fatty acids. These short-chain fatty acids communicate with the cells in your body that produce serotonin.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that regulates your mood, happiness, and anxiety levels. Essentially, gut microbes can help your body make more serotonin.
Another neurotransmitter, called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), regulates and improves your mood. GABA helps calm the nervous system and turn off stress reactions. Some probiotic gut bacteria can even directly produce GABA for your body.
Essentially, your diet can help your body’s bacteria protect your mental health because eating the right foods (probiotics) feeds happy bacteria. When your body has lots of healthy bacteria, your microbiome is more diverse, and your body produces more substances that increase your mood-lifting chemicals, such a GABA and serotonin.
Related: Probiotics for Acid Reflux: Do They Help?
Tips to Improve Your Gut and Mental Health
Because your gut and mind are so interconnected, many of the same tips to improve your gut health will also improve your mental health.
In addition to consuming more probiotics, here are some things you can do to improve your gut health, and in turn, your mood:
Lower Your Stress Levels
Chronic stress is tough on your whole body, but especially your gut. Some ways to lower your stress levels include meditation, getting a massage, walking, practicing yoga, exercising, and laughing.
Chewing your food slowly and thoroughly can help with nutrient absorption and digestion. This may help reduce digestive discomfort and help you maintain a healthy gut.
Get Enough Sleep
Not getting sufficient quality of sleep or enough sleep can be detrimental to your gut health, which can lead to more sleep issues. Try to focus on getting at least 7 to 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night.
Drinking plenty of water can improve the mucous lining of your intestines and balance out the bacteria in your gut. Try to drink more water to improve your gut and your mental health.
Take a Prebiotic
Prebiotics promote beneficial bacteria growth in the gut, and they can help your body digest probiotics. Consult with your healthcare provider to choose the right prebiotic supplement.
Take Control of Your Mental Health With Probiotics
As you can see, consuming more probiotics can do wonders for your mental health. Now, you just need to focus on consuming more probiotics on a daily basis.
Taking probiotic shots is a quick and easy way to incorporate more probiotics into your diet.
Are you looking to purchase some tasty probiotic shots? Check out our probiotic shot options today!