Good news for probiotics-lovers

by SARA on September 5, 2011

Licuado mañaneroSo much for a last taste of summer: This Labor Day, I came down with the flu. A lot more time than I’d like to admit was spent curled up with The Hunger Games (yes, I’m completely hooked)–but I also finally had a chance to catch up on a whole lot of missed episodes of NPR’s Science Friday. Along the way, I found a great piece of news to pass along.

According to a new report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, mice who were fed a specific strain of probiotic exhibited fewer signs of anxiousness, had lower counts of stress hormones, and even experienced changes in the parts of their brains. Incredible, right?

There’s been a lot of talk about the gut-brain connection over the years (some scientists even refer to our digestive system as a mini-brain), and this study seems to provide further evidence that those two systems communicate through more channels than previously imagined. I really liked the way one of the researchers explained the new discovery: When we’ve got food poisoning, “bad” bacteria talk to our brains to tell us to be sick. This finding is a case of “good” bacteria helping our brains be well. (Given how rotten I was feeling, this spoke volumes to me.)

As with all animal studies, there’s no way to know exactly how this translates to humans. Notably, too, all probiotics work differently, and the lactobacillus strain used in this experiment isn’t even commercially available. But I think the findings are worth watching. And they’re definitely motivating me to keep taking probiotics for all their known benefits. For people (like me), who’re just starting to dabble with all the options out there, I thought a little informal poll might be helpful. So let’s hear it: Do you take probiotics? And if so, what strains/brands do you use?

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Week of Eating; Day #1 | Life's Lemons
October 17, 2011 at 10:34 pm

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Lauren Slayton September 12, 2011 at 9:34 am

Fascinating. I never thought of the connection from the “good” side. I take a probiotic and drink kombucha. I would love to know more about different strains and effects. It seems like an emerging field. Hope you’re recovered, summer bugs are no fun.

SARA September 14, 2011 at 11:18 pm

Isn’t it? I’m finding myself reading everything there is on probiotics and prebiotics. Honey is a new one for me (prebiotic). So much interesting stuff…

Hallie Sawyer September 25, 2011 at 12:35 am

I take a probiotic from a site called Vitacost. It has 15 different strains of bacteria and 35 billion microorganisms. It truly has changed my life. No more sinus infections and allergies are minimal. There are other chronic conditions that had plagued me for years that my doctor kept giving me the band-aid treatment. I did the research myself and found my answer. I am a true believer in this as I have seen results!

Great to know that I am helping my noggin as well!

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