Probiotics and Your "Gut Brain"
Back when my daughter was four-years-old, a boy at the park who would probably now be classified as a bully told her that her favorite doll turned a monster during the night. My little one's response was, "Please don't say that in front of my stomach."
She was describing the "butterflies" of anxiety that happen when the brain in your head connects with your "second brain," the one in your gastrointestinal tract. What if there were a way to control that literally visceral reaction to stress? There may be, according to arecent study by Kirsten Tillisch, MD of the University of California, Los Angeles and colleagues that was published as an abstract and reported at Digestive Disease Week. The treatment? Probiotic-infused yogurt.
After 4 weeks of downing yogurt laced with probiotics, healthy volunteers showed "a muted brain response in a region associated with stressful gut signaling compared to controls consuming yogurt without the probiotics or no product," as MedPage Today put it. Similarlinks with emotional behavior and the gut have long been demonstrated in animal but this is the first research done on humans.
"By changing the environment in the gut, we can actually change what happens in the brain," Tillisch said in an interview with MedPage Today. She cautioned, however, that the work is still in early stages.
But, hey. This is one of those instances when there appears to be no need to wait to take action until the study has been published in a peer-reviewed journal. We already know that both yogurt and probiotics do all sorts of good things for your health. So why not dip your spoon into your favorite flavor on the chance that the treat may also help you stay calm even when something scary happens "in front of your stomach"?