Are Probiotics the New Prozac?

Probiotics, the healthy bacteria in yogurt and certain fermented foods, may be mind-altering microbes that could be used to help treat depression and anxiety, according to cutting-edge new research.  

A new “proof of concept” study using functional MRI offers the first evidence that bacteria consumed in food can affect human brain function, UCLA researchers report. The study found that women who eat probiotic yogurt regularly had altered activity in brain regions that regulate emotions and internal body sensations.

For example, during an emotional reactivity test involving viewing pictures of angry or frightened faces, the women who had consumed probiotics twice a day for a month showed decreased activity in these regions. This is an indication of reduced anxiety, according to neuropsychiatrist Daniel Amen, MD, a brain imaging specialist who was not involved in the research.

Conversely, women who didn’t consume probiotics had stable or increased activity in these regions during the emotional reactivity test. The study, which included 36 women, was published in the peer-reviewed journal Gastroenterology.

The Surprising Benefits of Probiotics

Can Probiotics Make People Happier?

"Our findings indicate that some of the contents of yogurt may actually change the way our brain responds to the environment,” Dr. Kirsten Tillisch, associate professor of medicine at UCLA's David Geffen School of Medicine and lead author of the study, said in a statement.

“When we consider the implications of this work, the old sayings 'you are what you eat' and 'gut feelings' take on new meaning,” added Dr. Tillsch.

Superfoods With Healing Powers

A psychology researcher at University of Canterbury in New Zealand is so enthusiastic about the potential of probiotics to improve mood that she has launched a new study in which 80 patients with depression will receive probiotic supplements for four months.

“I hope my study will find that treatment with probiotics changes levels of certain substances in the blood and brain, essentially making people happier,” researcher Amy Romijn told 3 News.

An estimated one in 10 adults suffers from depression, according to the CDC.

“We urgently need a new approach to depression, because current therapies don’t have a very good success rate,” says Dr. Amen, who is also the author of Unleash the Power of the Female Brain: Supercharging Yours for Better Health, Energy, Mood, Focus, and Sex. “When you combined published and unpublished studies of antidepressants, the treatments we have today are no better than they were 50 years ago.”

26 Images That Will Make You Smile

——————————

Get the information you need to improve your health and wellness on Healthline.com.

9 Ab Exercises for a Flat Belly. Which 9 exercises will help those six-pack abs become a reality?

 

23 Best Cancer Blogs of 2012. The brave women and families in these blogs are dedicated to sharing their journeys.

 

9 Warning Signs of Low-T. Could this common condition be impacting your health? Protect yourself by learning the symptoms.

 

Signs and Symptoms of Lung Cancer. It's the leading cause of cancer death in America, but it's also one of the easiest to prevent.

 

Worst Cities for Allergies in 2013. Here are the results for the world's top seven worst cities for allergies this year. Learn where not to go if you are sneezing and wheezing.

 

More Resources: Chicken, Beef Worst for Food Poisoning...Living in U.S. Increases Kids' Allergy Risk...How Self-Affirmation Reduces Stress

LEAVE YOUR COMMENT

Follow Yahoo Health on and become a fan on

Follow @YahooHealth on
Related Health News

Probiotic may not help colic