The gut has been described as our body’s second brain and this week researchers at Shanghai Mental Health Center at Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine in China confirmed the link between the two. After reviewing a whopping 21 studies, the researchers found that over half of them pointed to a substantial link between gut bacteria and anxiety. So much so, researchers concluded that changing the microbiota in your gut could help alleviate anxiety.
So how can you change your intestinal flora? Well, adjusting your diet to incorporate whole grains and fruit, as well as fermented foods such as sauerkrat, kimchi, kefir and pickles will help. Likewise introducing a good quality probiotic supplement with multiple strains will make a difference. Shabir regularly recommends Mega Probiotic ND: “It is what I would call your core supplement which the whole family can take for the overall wellbeing of the body.”
“This particular probiotic supplement contains eight strains of bacteria that are coated enterically with a protein coating protecting them from the harsh acidic environment of the stomach. The supplement is also dairy free which helps many who are sensitive to dairy products,” says Shabir. It’s also worth noting that Life Extension’s Florassist Mood has been specially formulated to boost low mood.
Of the 14 studies that used probiotics as the method of regulating bacteria in the gut, more than a third found them to be effective in reducing anxiety symptoms, while six of the remaining seven studies that had used non-probiotics had an 86 percent rate of effectiveness.
Why does your diet play such an important role? “The energy source of gut microbiota growth is mainly food,” the study authors said. “Adjusting the gut microbiota through modulating dietary structure can directly change the energy-supplying structure of gut microbiota and this plays a decisive role in the growth of gut microbiota, so the effect is obvious.”
That said, this research was purely observational and doesn’t delve into cause and effect. What they are more conclusive on is that 52% of the studies they looked at suggested that regulating your gut health could help reduce anxiety symptoms.
And, with a third of people suffering with anxiety at one point or another, this research could go a long way in helping people reduce the impact without the need for psychiatric drugs.
If you battle with anxiety and want to learn more about probiotics, it’s worth reading Shabir’s guide: What Can’t Probiotics Do?.