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Your body is home to trillions of bacteria. Contrary to popular opinion, not all bacteria cause infections. In fact, most of the bacteria in your body do not cause any health problems at all. Scientists have been conducting experiments that suggest that some of these bacteria are actually essential for your physical and mental health. The research on probiotics shows that your brain and gut bacteria have an indelible connection. Probiotics play an important role in ensuring that your body is healthy, your digestive process is optimally running, and you have total mental clarity.
First coined by Dr. Ted Dinan in 2013, the term psychobiotics refers to probiotics or live microorganisms that are specifically beneficial to your mental health and wellbeing. Your intestines have a nervous system of their own which is known as the ‘second brain’ or ‘backup brain’. Along with your intestines, the bacteria residing in your gut also have a two-way communication network with your brain. A healthy gut should contain at least 85% good bacteria and 15% of the other kind. If this balance is not maintained, you are likely to experience digestive issues and brain fog. Here are 7 ways in which probiotics can give you mental clarity.
Probiotics synthesize neurotransmitters.
Neurotransmitters are compounds or chemicals that individual brain cells use to talk to each other. The general assumption is that neurotransmitters are produced and utilized only in the brain. However, the truth is that the enteric nervous system (ENS) which resides in your gut creates and uses more than 30 neurotransmitters. This is the reason why your ENS controls the process of digestion with no help from the brain. Gut microbes produce many major brain chemicals including GABA, dopamine, norepinephrine, serotonin, and acetylcholine.
Specific probiotic strains are responsible for producing specific neurotransmitters. For example, Bifidobacterium produces GABA, Enterococcus and Streptococcus produce serotonin, while Bacillus produces dopamine and norepinephrine. In fact, more than 50% of dopamine and 90% of serotonin are found in the gut. Dopamine affects your emotions and sensations of pleasure or pain, while serotonin or the happy chemical regulates mood and boosts memory.
Probiotics communicate with the brain.
Probiotics can affect mental clarity because they exert influence on the brain via the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve continuously relays information from the brain to the intestine and back. It is the longest cranial nerve, and it touches a number of organs on its way. Research has found that the Lactobacillus rhamnosus probiotic helps transfer messages to the brain, and results in fewer symptoms of anxiety, depression, and stress.
Probiotics reduce stress levels and cortisol.
Cortisol is your body’s stress hormone. Some strains of probiotics reduce the levels of cortisol in your body. Having elevated levels of cortisol over a long period of time is connected to conditions like memory loss, difficulty in concentration, depression, anxiety, brain fog, mood swings, and more. Studies show that probiotic strains like Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus helveticus cause cortisol levels to drop.
Probiotics heal brain inflammation.
Chronic brain inflammation leads to a lack of mental clarity and mental illnesses like depression. Probiotics help quell inflammations of the brain by keeping cytokines in check. Cytokines are chemical transmitters that keep levels of inflammation high. Research suggests that there is a strong link between mental health issues like depression, anxiety, cognitive disorders, memory loss, and mood disorders, and high levels of cytokine. Certain strains of probiotics serve to keep cytokines low and thereby, reduce brain inflammation.
Probiotics prevent the creation of lipopolysaccharides.
Lipopolysaccharides are toxic byproducts that are created by high levels of bad bacteria. Probiotics help keep the growth of bad bacteria under check, and thereby, prevents the creation of liposaccharides. This byproduct affects the brain detrimentally by reducing levels of dopamine and serotonin, damaging the memory-center or hippocampus, increasing cortisol and free radical damage, and causing short-term loss of memory.
Probiotics protect you from brain damage.
Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli also double up as antioxidants. These antioxidants play a protective function and keep your brain cells from suffering free radical damage. Not only are these strains two of the most prolific bacterial groups in the gut, but most quality probiotic supplements and foods contain these in high concentrations.
Probiotics may lead to the formation of new brain cells.
Until recently, the common belief was that the production of new brain cells stopped post-adolescence. Recent research has debunked this myth. The human body is capable of producing new neurons throughout adulthood. When it comes to probiotic studies, it has been found that they may be capable of boosting the levels of BDNF or brain-derived neurotrophic factors. This brain protein is important as it stimulates the creation of new neurons and exhibits natural antidepressant qualities. While this effect has only been studied on lab animals yet, full-fledged research is underway.
Gain Mental Clarity with Probiotics Today
From reducing sadness, mood swings, and aggressive thoughts, to enhancing cognition and driving away brain fog, there are a number of ways in which probiotics can give you mental clarity. It is important to choose a quality probiotic supplement with a blend of strains that helps restore your gut health and boosts your mental faculties.
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