Yogurt Affects Brain Through ‘Gut Feelings’

yogurt affects brain through gut feelings
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.

Dr. Emeran Mayer, professor of medicine, physiology and psychiatry at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and senior author of this key probiotic/mood study says:
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.
Mental and neurological problems can now be addressed from a more holistic viewpoint, as science and medicine begin to get the ‘whole picture’ on the way our bodies work.  The truth is, no system can work in isolation from another, whether in our bodies or in the world.  What we are consuming -mentally and physically- affects our entire environment, both within and without.  We are learning that we can create powerful change by mastering the input mechanisms – largely found in the very tangible world of food.  If we begin to take seriously the food we put into our mouths as the programs we are feeding to this very complex multi-dimensional ‘machine’ – called our bodies – perhaps we can stop feeling disempowered in our health and start creating the lives we desire.
Yogurt affects the brain through creating positive feelings in the gut – according to this UCLA study, but it’s not the only thing that has this affect.  As we begin to tune into every food we consume, every thought we have, every input we accept into our reality and the way our minds and emotions respond, we can start to track the relationship we have with our environment.  As we do this, we will find that we can, more and more, dictate the types of experiences we have and ultimately, the reality we create.  It all starts with awareness.  So observe, and choose wisely.
Written by: Stasia Bliss

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