Can the microbes in your gut affect anxiety levels?
There are 100 trillion bacterial organisms in a healthy human gut. Scientists tell us that there are certain species of gut bacteria called ‘psychobiotics’ which may be beneficial in modifying feelings of anxiety or depression.
The type of food you eat, how much sugar you have, and various lifestyle factors like having a pet, gardening, spending time in the country, stress levels, and physical exercise all affect the populations of bacteria in your gut.
Have you heard of the neurotransmitter Serotonin? Its often referred to as 'the happy hormone' and 90% of it is manufactured not in the brain, but by cells in the gut. Supplementing with healthy probiotics and eating foods naturally providing them, or prebiotic fibrous food which feed them, may assist you in keeping your gut and brain in a healthy state. In addition it seems that pathogenic bacteria in the gut may induce anxiety like behaviors mediated by the Vagus nerve, part of which runs from the gut directly to the brain.
Sauerkraut is a traditional fermented food containing naturally occurring probiotics including Lactobacillus Rhamnosus which is considered a psychobiotic which may be helpful in reducing anxiety and depression. A study published in 2011 suggests it does this by stimulating GABBA receptors in the brain via the Vagus Nerve. (Adverse changes in GABBA receptor expression in the brain are part of the development of anxiety and depression)
Kefir contains the beneficial bacteria Lactobacillus Casei which was shown to improve mood in a study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition in March 2007.
High fiber foods like vegetables, whole grains, beans and lentils if you can tolerate them, are among the foods which can provide prebiotic food for the healthy bacteria in your gut.
If you would like to improve the health of your gut bacteria and discover what foods suit your body,
call Sunshine Coast Nutritionist Karen Emans on 0408748532 for an appointment.