Many of us eat yogurt for enjoyment, while others of us believe we are doing the digestive tracts a favor, but what about our brains? Did you know consuming the probiotics (friendly bacteria) found in yogurt can actually help your brain? That’s right, studies are showing that the way probiotics found in yogurt affect your brain has something to do with how your gut feels and that these ‘gut feelings’ are intricately related to mood and emotional response.
It has been know that those who suffer with gut related issues such as irritable bowel or constipation have a higher likelihood to experience depression, anxiety and mental unrest. It is now being realized that the gut-brain relationship is two-way. Feeling good in your gut also helps your mood. Makes sense. “Research has connected the gut’s probiotics to the brain via a conduit between the central nervous system and the enteric nervous system. The enteric nervous system is located in the abdominal region around the digestive tract. Many of our neurotransmitters are produced in this region and the neurons relay mind-body responses between the gut and the brain stem.”
Apparently, eating yogurt can affect your brain by altering your ‘gut feelings’ – the satisfaction of the digestive flora seems to contribute to a healthy outlook on life. “US researchers found that study participants who consumed yogurt at least twice a day fortified with probiotics showed they had less anxiety and lower levels of activity in the brain associated with emotion and pain.”
They have also shown that those eating a probiotic rich diet have more than just one area of the brain affected: “the brain effects could be seen in many areas, including those involved in sensory processing and not merely those associated with emotion.” This information is vital in the progress being made toward understanding how our diets affect our entire beings. We really are what we eat. Those consuming a higher fiber, enzyme-rich, probiotic filled diet as found in largely fresh, raw fruits and vegetables, whole grains, sprouts, seeds, nuts and yes – yogurt – are predisposing themselves to more balanced mental states.
There are studies showing that what we eat can alter the composition and products of the gut flora — in particular, that people with high-vegetable, fiber-based diets have a different composition of their microbiota, or gut environment, than people who eat the more typical Western diet that is high in fat and carbohydrates. Now we know that this has an effect not only on the metabolism but also affects brain function.