Although it may seem strange, there is a connection between brain and gut so much that scientists also call it with a particular name, the gut brain axis. When there is an imbalance in the intestinal microbiota, namely, in the bacteria that populate our intestine, the consequences can be not only inflammation and poor digestion but also depression. Scientists have tried to understand whether an integration of probiotics and prebiotics to restore the balance of the microbiota can also work in the opposite direction, namely to counteract depression, if present, or anxiety. This was done by a scientific research published in the BMJ Nutrition Prevention and Health journal by a team from the University of Brighton, UK (Noonan et al, July 2020).
Probiotics are those supplements that bring good bacteria to the intestine while prebiotics help the population of good intestinal bacteria to grow and strengthen. Examples of probiotics that can be integrated into our diet are some types of yogurt, but be careful, not all of them, it should be reported on the label that they have probiotics, sauerkraut, miso, tempeh. Examples of prebiotics are onions, artichokes, asparagus, leeks or oats. Scientists have based themselves on data obtained from previous studies and have been able to observe that, in fact, the intake of probiotics or probiotics in combination with prebiotics has made it possible to counteract, at least in part, depression. Not only that, this treatment has also made it possible to reduce anxiety. Scientists believe that this beneficial action on the brain can be carried out by probiotics and prebiotics since they act by fighting chronic inflammation and, it is thought, by modulating the action of tryptophan, an essential substance in the gut brain axis since it is the precursor of serotonin, a hormone that controls mood.
As pointed out by the scientists themselves, the link between taking probiotics and prebiotics and reducing depression and anxiety needs to be further investigated and tested on large population samples. But certainly, in the meantime, it may be useful to integrate the foods listed in the previous paragraph into your diet. They are good for the gut, for the digestion and even for the mood!