Study Finds Probiotics Help More Than Just Digestion, Can Reduce Depression

At this point, we’ve all heard the benefits of probiotics, especially for gut health. But here’s something you might not have heard: there’s new evidence that probiotics could also be helpful for your mental health, too.

The Netherlands’ Leiden Institute for Brain and Cognition has conducted a study on the use of probiotics for depression, and the scientists had surprising results. According to Yahoo Health, probiotics commonly found in foods like yogurt “can reduce feelings of depression.”

The study, which included 40 participants, used probiotics in powder form mixed with warm milk or water that participants would take every day for four weeks. And what happened to the participants who were given the probiotics?

“Researchers discovered that those who took the probiotics powder showed a significant reduction in negative thoughts, especially ones that were aggressive or ruminative.”

The study’s lead researcher, Laura Steenbergen, spoke with Yahoo Health about the surprising findings about probiotics.

Steenbergen said, “Ruminative thoughts are most important in predicting the onset and development of depression. This makes the effect of probiotics on cognitive reactivity to sad mood a promising finding.”

Excited by the study’s findings, the researchers are unable at this point to answer why probiotics have this effect.

The study’s lead author, Dr. Lorenza Colzato, spoke with the Huffington Post about what exactly needs to be done next with these findings on probiotics.

“Unquestionably, further research needs to be carried out. But the hope is that probiotics supplementation may work as a potential and effective preventive strategy for depression.”

The Leiden’s Institute’s findings on the benefits of probiotics correlate with a study recently done at Cambridge University. Neuroscientists completed a study that found that using prebiotics, a type of healthy bacteria much like probiotics, “have an anti-anxiety effect, lessening study subjects’ emotional responses to negative stimuli.”

While the findings of both studies are particularly exciting to sufferers of depression, scientists are saying that probiotics are not necessarily a replacement for other treatments.

Dr. Philip Burnet, the lead author of the Cambridge study, has said, “It is likely that these compounds will help to manage mental illness. “

Burnet added, “They may also be used when there are metabolic and/or nutritional complications in mental illness, which may be caused by long-term use of current drugs.”

The benefits of adding probiotics to your diet, which was once thought to be a passing fad, seems to prove itself more and more showing just how probiotics can help your body and now mind function better.

[Photo Courtesy of Pixabay]