Probiotics are essential in improving digestion and immune function. They are fundamental in supporting proper microbial balance and optimizing gut health. Previous research has demonstrated that probiotics can have beneficial effects on mood and cognition.
I recently shared a human study four months ago, published in Brain, Behavior and Immunity, where researchers found that multispecies probiotics had a positive effect on mood after four weeks of supplementation. There is definitely a gut-brain relationship between nutrition and the gut microbiome and their support of brain health and function. The gut and brain communicate through the nervous system, immune system, and hormones, while the microbiome can also release neurotransmitters.
In addition, at the beginning of the year, a study published in Psychoneuroendocrinology showed that women who experienced stress and anxiety during pregnancy were more likely to have babies with dysbiosis linked to an increased incidence of psychological problems.
According to a new study just published last week in the Journal of Neuroscience, researchers demonstrated that probiotics may improve the behavioral symptoms of chronic inflammatory diseases by altering the communication between the immune system and the brain.
In this study, a research team at the University of Calgary fed mice with liver inflammation either a probiotic or a placebo and found that the treatment reduced these behaviors. The researchers monitored behavioral symptoms by measuring the amount of time the mice spent in social behaviors versus the time spent in isolation. As a result, the mice that received the probiotics spent more time engaged in social behaviors compared to mice that received a placebo. In addition, the mice that received the probiotics had lower blood levels of TNF-α and fewer activated immune cells in the brain compared to mice that received a placebo.
Chronic autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease are associated with behavioral symptoms that include fatigue, depression, and social withdrawal. We must keep in mind that this is an animal study, but it does further reinforce the earlier human studies demonstrating that probiotics and the gut microbiome affect behavioral symptoms by changing the communication between the immune system and the brain. This data also suggests that the gut microbiome may possibly be manipulated to not only regulate immunity but also to regulate the neural circuitry that affects behavior.
By Michael Jurgelewicz, DC, DACBN, DCBCN
Source: Probiotics Improve Inflammation-Associated Sickness Behavior by Altering Communication between the Peripheral Immune System and the Brain. The Journal of Neuroscience, 29 July 2015, 35(30):10821-10830.