Did you know probiotics have the power to do much more than improving your gut health. They can also boost your brain indirectly thereby lowering recurring migraine attacks.
There is ample research on the interconnection of gut and brain, and this partnership is called the gut-brain axis. Actually, these two are linked through peculiar biochemical signaling that occurs between digestive tract nervous system, and the central nervous system, which also includes our brain. The main information connection between the gut and the brain is served by vagus nerve, which is also the longest nerve in the bdoy.
Our gut is also called “second brain” because this part produces many neurotransmitters as our brain does, like dopamine, serotonin, and also gamma-aminobuytyric acid, all of which play a big role in regulating our mood. In fact, according to one estimate, 93 percent of serotonin is manufactured in our digestive tract.
Everything that affects gut also affects the brain and vice versa. Once the brain detects some trouble, it immediately sends out warning signals to the gut, which is also the reason for so many digestive issues (upset or nervous stomach) due to stressful events. On the flip side, flares of some gastrointestinal issues such as chronic constipation or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), or Crohn’s disease can trigger depression or anxiety.
In fact, this brain-gut axis also works in many other ways. For instance, your gut plays a big role in regulating appetite by transmitting signals to the brain when its’ time to stop eating. Around 15 minutes after you finish your food, gut microbes generate proteins that start suppressing appetite which also coincides with time it mostly takes people to feel full.
So how these probiotics fit in this gut-brain axis?
Research shows that probiotics boost cognitive function and mood and also lower anxiety and stress. For instance, in a study published online July22, 2013, by Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience established that patients with Alzheimer’s scored much better on test to scientifically measure cognitive impairment when they took milk enriched with four major probiotic bacteria species for 14 weeks compared to those who drank plain milk.
In a small study in 2015 published in the Journal Gastroenterology it was found that women who consumed yogurt enriched with probiotics, thrice a day for eight weeks, were much calmer when exposed to images of frightened and angry faced compared with a control group. MRIs were done and it was found that yogurt group had much lower activity in the insula, an area in the brain that is responsible for processing internal body sensations like the ones that emanate from the gut.
It’s still too early to give final verdict on the precise role of probiotics in this gut-brain axis since the research is still ongoing. It appears probiotics not only support a healthier gut, but also a healthier brain.