Humans have been consuming probiotic bacteria in the form of cultured, fermented foods for millennia. Foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, miso from soybeans, and many other types of fermented foods and drinks have long been cherished for their numerous health-promoting properties. Probiotics are available today as supplements as well. As research continues to demonstrate the benefits of these health-promoting microbes, advancements in application and delivery methods will enhance their benefits, particularly to help combat drug-resistant bacterial infections that continue to emerge.
Traditional Chinese medicine and other ancient medical systems recognized the relationships between digestive health and brain health, and now science confirms these links. A large percentage of brain neurotransmitter activity actually occurs in the digestive tract. In fact, researchers call the gut “the second brain” because of these close interconnections.
Now, a new layer of gut-brain protection has been found with probiotics: Researchers recently demonstrated a correlation between increased probiotic bacteria in the gut and reduced risk of stroke. Results of the study suggest that probiotic bacteria that produce carotenoids, a class of antioxidants, help protect against cardiovascular disease factors by providing specific antioxidant support in a bioavailable, digestible form. Study authors suggest that probiotic supplements could be used to protect cardiovascular health.
Another probiotic recent human study shows that eating yogurt can result in measurable changes in brain activity. Results of this compelling study suggest that eating probiotics daily can reduce anxiety and stress and may also reduce pain, by modulating activity in areas of the brain that regulate these feelings.