Probiotics May Boost Cognitive Function

People usually take probiotics to improve the gut health, yet they may also benefit in the brain function. 

Research shows a partnership between the gut and brain, called the gut-brain axis. The two are linked through biochemical signaling between the nervous system in the digestive tract and in the brain. The primary information connection between the brain and gut is the vagus nerve, the longest nerve in the body.

The gut produces many of the same neurotransmitters as the brain does, like serotonin, dopamine, and gamma-aminobutyric acid, all of which play a key role in regulating mood. In fact, it is estimated that 90% of serotonin is made in the digestive tract. That’s why the gut is called a “second brain”.

What affects the gut often affects the brain and vice versa. When your brain senses trouble, it sends warning signals to the gut, then you may feel digestive problems like a nervous or upset stomach. On the flip side, flares of gastrointestinal issues like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s disease, or chronic constipation may trigger brain issues like anxiety or depression.

When the gut health is improved by taking probiotics, the function of brain gets improved, too. It  shows both in the mood and cognitive function.

Evidence has been found in some researches that probiotics may help boost mood and cognitive function and lower stress and anxiety. For example, a study published online Nov. 10, 2016, by Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience found that Alzheimer’s patients who took milk made with four probiotic bacteria species for 12 weeks scored better on a test to measure cognitive impairment compared with those who drank regular milk.

A small 2013 study reported in the journal Gastroenterology found that women who ate yogurt with a mix of probiotics, twice a day for four weeks, were calmer when exposed to images of angry and frightened faces compared with a control group. MRIs also found that the yogurt group had lower activity in the insula, the brain area that processes internal body sensations like those emanating from the gut.

In a word, probiotics may not only support a healthier gut, but a healthier brain, too. Yet more study is needed to determine the exact role probiotics play in the gut-brain axis. 



* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.