Evidence is growing on the incredible connection between our body’s health and that of our brains. And now there’s further evidence to suggest that taking care of one can only benefit the other.
Most of us already know good bacteria can be good for our digestive systems, but now it seems the benefits extend far beyond that, including possibly even making us feel less stressed and helping boost our memories.
A new study has found that taking a daily capsule of probiotic bacteria can help people cope with mild anxiety and memory problems.
According to The Guardian, the study found those who took the bug-bearing capsules for a month reported less stress and anxiety. They also had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol than the control group who were given a placebo.
The study also found the group taking probiotics fared better on memory tests.
The head of psychiatry at University College Cork, Ted Dinan, said the findings need to be confirmed by trials involving more people, but they suggest a strain of live bacteria called Bifidobacterium longum 1714 could have a beneficial effect on brain function.
“When they were given these bacteria they were less anxious and their capacity to memorise material seemed to be enhanced,” Professor Dinan said.
He said the effects were small but sufficient for the study group to perceive less stress, which meant the effect should be sufficient to be of help to some people.
The study’s findings mirror the results of previous research by the Cork team using mice.
Professor Dinan hopes that within five years his team will be able to develop a probiotic that will be effective in the treatment of mild forms of anxiety and depression.
The study is yet more evidence that we are only just beginning to understand the full health benefits of Bifidobacterium longum and the hundreds of other bacterial species that live in our gut.
Other benefits of such bacteria already well documented include helping digestion, training the immune system and keeping harmful bacteria at bay.
The findings were released at the Society for Neuroscience meeting in Chicago on Sunday.
Do you take probiotics already? Will this news make you start including them in your daily health regime?