Written by: Jen Cox - AdvDip NAT + WHM. @keeperandkin
We all know the phrase ‘trust your gut.’ It’s the home of intuition and your second brain… OK, third brain for boys. So, what happens when things get out of whack? Beyond Blue found a quarter of us struggle with Anxiety. Interestingly, research suggests your gut may have some explaining to do on this front and it’s all due to fancy little players called psychobiotics.
Psychobiotics are the wizards of your microbiome. These Gandalf-the-Grey-Cells have mind-altering effects in the best possible way: their presence can improve cognitive function, boost mood and decrease clinical representation of stress and anxiety. Clever! Their absence, however, is one big problemo.
The current theory is psychobiotics operate in three key ways:
~ 1. They produce neurotransmitters: several of the best-known brain tinkerers can be produced by gut bacteria. The theory is, when neurotransmitters such as serotonin, GABA and acetylcholine are secreted in the gut they go full Geppetto on your ass and impact brain function and behaviour like your mind is naught but a strange little puppet child. As an aside, Walt Disney could definitely have used a few psychobiotics in his smoothie before signing off on Pinocchio… That story scares the crap out of me.
~ 2. They impact the body’s stress response system: chronic stress and anxiety impact your brain and adrenal glands, with high stress absolutely worsening your chances of an anxiety flare. Enter, probiotics which lower your cortisol (that’s the key stress hormone for those of you who haven’t heard) and you’ll be looking at a calmer time fo’ sho’.
~ 3. They’re anti-inflammatory: chronic and systemic inflammation are now known to be one of the major underlying factors in mood disorders. Because they are able to reduce inflammation, psychobiotics can get to the core of the issue lowering contributing factors and creating positive impact on overall health, not just mood.
Now you’re across what the Hogwarts students of your microbiome get up to, let’s take a gander through the research and suss out which strains do it best. The gut is a fabulously multicultural community so brace yourself. Long words are coming. In the spirit of lazy vocab, I’ve assigned each an Aussie-as nickname.
Lactobacillus Acidopholus AKA “The Doph”
Otherwise known as one of most widely researched probiotics, supplementing the Doph was shown in this trial to decrease depression and measurably drop systemic inflammation.
Lactobacillus casei AKA “Casey”
Not to be left out, Casey was on the team with the Doph when they lowered depression scores and significantly decreased full body inflammation. This source also mentions that Casey is one to supplement when digestive problems, fatigue and anxiety collide… nervous poo-ers take note.
Lactobacillus rhamnosus AKA “Ram Bam”
This is a neurotransmitter creating psychobiotic, having been found to form GABA in the gut. It also helps us stress less by down regulating stress hormones in this study over here. Researchers have concluded that Ram Bam is one chill compadre to have on side, reducing anxiety-like behaviours in those that suffer anxiety as well as potentially preventing anxiety from presenting at all.
Lactobacillus plantarum AKA “P-dog”
P-dog is quite the party starter, as shown by its ability to increase dopamine and serotonin in this trial. It does just about all the anxiety alleviating things: lowering stress hormones and reducing inflammation, while also making some GABA if you needed yet another reason to like it.
Lactobacillus paracasei AKA “Paro”
Found here to produce GABA like P-dog, the calming magic is strong in this one. This source also found Paro changed a participant’s perception of both how stressed and anxious they felt.
Bifidobacterium infantis AKA “Fanta Pants”
This study found Fanta Pants can regulate Tryptophan, so is officially in far too good a mood to care about a silly nickname, thanks very much.
Phew! Quite a few sizeable words there. So, where can we find these all? SURELY not ALL IN THE ONE PLACE with a delicious coconutty flavour?
I’ll just leave this here for you.