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The brain in your gut

By on January 20, 2015
Picture courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti and

My good friend Mercedes Hermann always tells me to eat my ‘probies’. It’s become our little joke at this point. ‘Probies’ of course are probiotics, live foods that provide beneficial bacteria to our guts.

We have all heard of the ‘brain in the gut’. And we have all heard of the brain impacting the healthy operation of the stomach (think ulcers). But research from 2013 indicates that the connection goes the other way as well. Having a healthy gut, in particular healthy gut bacteria ingested with live culture yogurt is shown to lead to reduce anxiety when engaged in an emotionally charged activity.

The researchers took two groups, one who consumed live culture yogurt twice a day for four weeks, and the other who consumed a control diary product that did not contain live culture. Each group was given a fMRI both before and after eating the yogurt. While i the fMRI they were asked to match faces into pairs according to the emotions on the face, emotions such as fear and anger. Looking at faces tends to make us feel the emotions that those faces reflect, so looking at pictures of faces in a state of fear would tend to make the viewer feel some of that fear.

What the researchers found was that the group who ate the live culture yogurt had less negative emotional response to the faces thant he control group.

So it looks like Mercedes is right. And I’m going to carry on eating my probies!

Bacteria in food can affect brain function, according to new research published in the journal Gastroenterology. 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. Probiotic Bacteria Beneficial For Brain Function

Picture courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti and

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