Nestle`-Backed Study Links Probiotic Strain and Depression

gut health probioticsA new study backed by Nestle` shows a specific strain of a probiotic, Bifidobacterium longum, helped relieve symptoms of depression as well as alleviating gastrointestinal upsets.

Over 40 adults who had experienced Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) in addition to mild to moderate amounts of depression or anxiety participated in this study.   Half the group took a dose of Bifidobacterium longum (B. longum) daily and the other half of the group took a placebo.  After six weeks researchers found 64% of the patients taking the probiotic experienced reductions in depression scores when compared to 32% of the participants taking the placebo.  Additionally functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), showed depression score improvements were associated with changes in multiple areas in the brain involved with mood control.  No changes were seen in anxiety scores however improvements in quality of life were seen in the group supplementing with the probiotic.

Although the results of this study are promising, larger scale trials are needed.

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Digestive Health Digest

Digestive HealthIn the past, when discussing digestive health, products targeting the prevention of gas and bloating, indigestion, diarrhea and constipation were in the forefront.  Specific conditions usually addressed were Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Colon Cancer prevention and general support for healthy elimination.  Products like Fiber and Oat Bran were touted as providing cardiovascular support as well as reducing the risks of colon cancer and promoting increased regular elimination.  Today people are beginning to understand that there is a connection between overall wellness and digestive health. They are taking a more proactive role in searching for products that support this health connection without looking to necessarily treat a specific condition.

Probiotics have taken the center stage as more studies show the connection between digestive health and overall wellness.  Ensuring that the Probiotics available contain the correct strains and a proper transport system are keys to realizing the benefits Probiotics are able to provide.  Up and coming interest in digestive health support supplements are in the areas of Prebiotics and Digestive Enzymes.

Prebiotics help the body produce its own friendly bacteria while Probiotics involve introducing foreign strains of friendly bacteria into the digestive tract.  Prebiotics basically insure success of the Probiotic strains in the gut.  They are synergistic in that taken together they provide the maximum benefits available for digestive health.

While not as well known as Probiotics, Digestive Enzymes are also critical for optimal digestive health.  As we age our body natural slows down its production of Digestive Enzymes.  Additionally stressful situations as well as over processing of our food sources may cause a lack of Digestive Enzyme production in our intestinal system.  Without adequate Digestive Enzymes feelings of bloating and increased gas production may be experienced.  A reduction in nutrient absorption also occurs which may lead to a reduction in overall immunity and health as well as digestive disturbances.

According to the National Digestive Disease Clearinghouse approximately 60 to 70 million people are affected by digestive conditions every year.  Taking a proactive role to supporting healthier digestive health seems to be a step in the right direction.

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Could Probiotic Ease Depression? Mouse study suggests so…..

According to a new animal study using mice, Lactobacillus, a probiotic, could reverse symptoms of depression.  A combination of molecular and computational techniques as well as behavioral techniques were used to test the role these gut microbioata may play in behaviors associated with depression, since these disorders may run in families and the microbiome may be a causative agent or a factor of this disease.

Researchers using a mouse model looked for a biological process, which occurs in living organisms, which may influence mood.  Results of this study found a reduction in levels of Lactobacillus in mice under stress as well as increased levels of circulating Kynurenine levels, which is a form of inflammation that has been linked to depression and suicide risks.

By restoring intestinal Lactobacillus levels improvements in abnormalities in behavior were seen.  Researchers did stress however that the symptoms that they identified in the mice are “depressive-like” behaviors.  It is hard to determine if the mice are actually experiencing depression since mice have no way of communicating their feelings.  Researchers do feel confident that the findings from this study may open new opportunities in the treatment of depression and other conditions like anxiety.

The researchers plan to begin studying the effects of Lactobacillus in people with depression in individuals with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), because MS sufferers often experience depression.

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Probiotics Have A “Positive Effect” on Stress and Anxiety

stress anxietyAccording to a new meta-analysis and systematic review consumption of probiotics may have a positive effect on mental health by reducing the psychological symptoms of perceived stress, anxiety and depression.

The study reviewed the outcomes of seven previous studies with over 300 volunteers both prior to and post supplementation with a probiotic supplement.  The studies published before July, 2016 were randomized and placebo controlled.  The meta-analysis showed statistically significant improvements in the psychological symptoms of perceived stress when compared with a placebo.

A newfound interest in the gut-brain axis and new evidence showing intestinal microbiota’s ability to influence the central nervous system’s function have lead to the conclusion that probiotics may have a positive effect on mood and psychological symptoms like anxiety and depression.

Further studies to determine the benefit of probiotic supplementation and symptoms of diagnosed clinical depression are needed.

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Probiotics Improve Cognitive Function Among Patients With Severe Dementia

Probiotics and Brain Function

A new clinical trial with Alzheimer’s patients shows that probiotics may improve cognitive function in humans.  Prior studies showing probiotics benefits for improvements in memory and learning as well as anxiety and depression reduction have been done with mice.

60 patients with Alzheimer’s disease participated in this double blind, controlled trial.  Patients ranged in age from 60 to 95 years.  The study lasted 12 weeks.  Patients were randomly divided into 2 groups.  The control group received milk and the other group received a 200 ml/day mixture of probiotic milk containing Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei, Bifidobacterium biffidum and Lactobacillus fermentum.  A small mental state exam (MMSE) score was recorded both before and after treatment for all participants.  Additionally fasting blood samples were taken to determine related markers both before and after the study period.

Average scores on the MMSE questionnaires increased significantly from 8.7 to 10.6 (out of a maximum of 30) in the group receiving the probiotic and decreased in the control group from 8.7 to 8.0.  The probiotic group also showed reduction in triglycerides and insulin resistance indicating that a “change in the metabolic adjustments might be a mechanism by which probiotics affect Alzheimer’s and possibly other neurological disorders” according to the study’s lead author.

Further studies are already planned.

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Probiotics May Promote Weight Loss and Reduce BMI

probioticsAccording to a new meta-analysis, which combined data from 25 randomized trials, consumption of a probiotic may reduce both body mass index (BMI) and body weight.  An additional sub group analysis also pointed out that supplementing with a multi strain probiotic and taking the probiotics for at least eight weeks showed even better weight loss results.

Over 1900 participants took part in these 25 randomized studies.  Significant reductions in body weight (.59 kg) and BMI (.49kg/m2) were seen.  Trials with the multi strain probiotic formulations found an even larger reduction of BMI (.65 kg/m2).

In addition to serving as a delivery system for the absorption of nutrients and the elimination of waste material, the intestinal tract also plays important roles in maintaining healthy immunity and providing resistance to pathogens. The GI tract is populated by billions of cells of beneficial bacteria (probiotics) which help us digest and absorb our food, maintain a healthy intestinal pH (acid content), protect us from pathogenic bacteria, and provide an environment conducive to the continued health of the intestinal tract.

Look for probiotic products containing at least 8 strains of friendly bacteria.  Also,  a high potency probiotic formula containing at least 35 billion viable organisms per capsule will aid in quickly establishing healthy levels of probiotics in the GI tract.  Make sure your probiotic has some way to protect the organisms from the acidic conditions present in the stomach during digestion.  A Bioenhanced Acid Resistant Strain (BEARS) will ensure survivability in both low (acid) and high (alkaline) pH environments.  Lastly make sure your probiotic product contains a prebiotic blend that consist of FOS (a food source for probiotics) and FiberAid (R) arabinogalactans (a patented prebiotic).  This will help support the bodies ability to produce it’s own friendly bacteria.

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