Probiotics are living organisms introduced into the body usually in the form of bacteria via food or supplements. The introduction of these organisms helps to regulate the body’s natural acid balance and gut flora. Infection, disease, stress, and nutritional choices may have a negative effect on a person’s ability to maintain necessary balance in the intestinal tract and therefore the individual may suffer from a variety of ailments. As early as 1907, scientist have recognized the ability of healthy bacteria to benefit the organism that ingested them.1 In contrast to antibiotics, these live cultures encourage the growth of organisms and help establish balance to a disturbed system. Being an intricate system, the body likes to maintain homeostasis or many systems see deleterious effects. By correcting imbalances in the gut flora, scientists, doctors, and nutritionists have seen positive results in the following: ingesting lactose, preventing certain cancers and infections, lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, affecting irritable bowl syndrome, and increasing absorption of minerals.2 Few negative side effects have been noted with the use of bacteria or yeasts that aim to balance the organisms in the gut.
Can They Alter Your Mood?
As was mentioned earlier, the body is amazingly intricate and is yet to be fully understood. Researchers have been able to link patients suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome and the status of their gut flora. These patients were found to be irritable, suffer anxiety, and were shown to have changes in the healthy organisms of the digestive tract. When good microbes were introduced, the lab showed that the patients had decreased anxiety and reported to be in better mood. It seems that the ingestion of probiotics can positively affect symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome.3 Also noticed by the researchers was the fact that many people with chronic fatigue syndrome also suffer from irritable bowl syndrome. Regulating the intestinal organisms may also combat these issues. More research needs to be done with this area of bacteria and mood enhancement, but currently the outcomes are positive and promising.
1. Metchnikoff, E. 1907. Essais optimistes. Paris. The prolongation of life. Optimistic studies. Translated and edited by P. Chalmers Mitchell. London: Heinemann, 1907.