Probiotics are microorganisms that are a healthy part of our immune system and have recently been linked to mood and brain health. They’re found in large colonies in the gut, but are found in other parts of our bodies too. They live in our digestive system to protect us from pathogens and help us detoxify. When the balance of helpful bacteria becomes imbalanced by harmful bacteria, our immunity and vitality can become compromised.
Many problems can arise from imbalanced gut flora including decreased nutrient absorption, yeast overgrowth, gas, bloating, diarrhea, stomach pain and other GI symptoms. Some researchers believe the increase of imbalanced gut flora is partly because of the overuse of antibiotic and antibacterial products and the ultra-pasteurization of food. They believe we have less opportunity to receive probiotics naturally from our food and some of us may need to eat more probiotic containing foods.
New studies are finding more and more connections with mood and probiotics. They’re looking at connections like reduced anxiety and fewer sad moods for those who take probiotics. Some believe that by increasing nutrient absorption people just feel better. There are many links to mood and malnutrition. Many of the chemicals needed by our brains are made in the gut, so a healthy gut may be more likely to produce the right amount of chemicals. They’re still trying to understand the connection and with all of the interest in probiotics we can look forward to more information in the near future.
Some sources of healthy probiotics are yogurt, kefir, buttermilk, kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi and other fermented foods. Probiotic supplements are becoming very popular, but they’re not for everyone. Consult your health care provider before beginning any new supplements especially if you have concerns about your digestive health. When choosing a supplement find a high quality brand that is refrigerated (best) and has a few strains of probiotics.