The study, carried out by UCLA researchers, found that brain function changed among healthy women who consumed probiotics in yogurt.
Brain function changed among the women while in a resting state as well as during an emotion-recognition task.
They found that the bacterial environment in the gut can affect brain activity.
The researchers said that this finding has important implications for future dietary or drug interventions to improve brain function.
Dr. Kirsten Tillisch
An associate professor of medicine at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine and lead author of the study, said:
“Many of us have a container of yogurt in our refrigerator that we may eat for enjoyment, for calcium or because we think it might help our health in other ways. Our findings indicate that some of the contents of yogurt may actually change the way our brain responds to the environment. When we consider the implications of this work, the old sayings ‘you are what you eat’ and ‘gut feelings’ take on new meaning.”
It has been established that the brain can send signals to the gut, which explains why stress can often be the cause of gastrointestinal problems.
The authors say their study proves what has been suspected for some time.
Tillisch added that “time and time again, we hear from patients that they never felt depressed or anxious until they started experiencing problems with their gut. Our study shows that the gut- brain connection is a two-way street.”
A total of 36 women between the ages of 18 and 55 were included in the study. They were split into three different groups:
– Group one ate a yogurt containing a mix of several probiotics twice a day for four weeks
– Group two consumed a diary product that contained no probiotics
– Group three ate no product at all