Probiotics can do more than improve your gut health. They also may indirectly enhance your brain, too. Recent research points to the fact that probiotics may help boost mood and cognitive function.
1 | THE GUT-BRAIN AXIS
Our gut and brain work together in a partnership called the gut-brain axis. During digestion, biochemical signals are sent between the enteric nervous system in the digestive system and the central nervous system, which includes the brain. The vagus nerve is the longest nerve in the body and is the main communication link between the brain and gut.
There are many neurotransmitters produced in the gut that are similar to those produced in the brain, such as serotonin and dopamine, which both play a critical role in regulating mood. In fact, the digestive tract is said to produce 90% of our overall serotonin. In many cases, gut health affects the brain and vice versa. The opposite may also be true, as flares of gastrointestinal disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome or Crohn's disease can trigger anxiety and depression. There are several ways in which the brain-gut axis works that we experience daily. Our gut tells our brain when it's time to stop eating, for instance. Within 20 minutes after eating, gut microbes produce proteins that suppress appetite, which is about the same time people start feeling full. Do you ever get that fluttering feeling in your stomach before you deliver a toast? Or experience a sudden loss of appetite when someone tells you upsetting news? That’s your brain communicating with your gut’s microbiota.
2 | PROBIOTIC EFFECT ON THE GUT-BRAIN AXIS
So how might probiotics fit in the gut-brain axis? Some research has found that probiotics may help boost mood and cognitive function and lower stress and anxiety. For example, a study published in 2016 found that patients who consume probiotics score better on a test to measure cognitive function.
Probiotics may reduce inflammation in the body by improving the integrity of the gastrointestinal lining, reducing endotoxin leakage into the bloodstream, and preventing endotoxins from entering the bloodstream. The reduction of this inflammation may result in improved regulation of brain function and neurotransmitter activity. The robust evidence supports that treatment with probiotics may improve symptoms associated with depressive disorders by increasing serotonin availability and/or decreasing levels of inflammatory markers. Probiotics could provide an effective treatment for major depression, reducing the stigma, side effects, and latency associated with traditional antidepressants for those seeking treatment.
Our intō lip moisturizer and hand moisturizer contain Bifida Ferment Lysate. Research on human skin cultures has shown that Bifida Ferment Lysate calms inflammation and maintains skin hydration. This probiotic is a derivative of the B. bifidum bacteria, which has actually been shown to generate vitamins such as K and B-12, which are both involved in regulating mood. Since everything we put on our skin is absorbed by our body’s microbiome, you are feeding your skin probiotics and vitamins known to have beneficial effects on your brain and gut as well!