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If we ask to name just one thing that gives you instant happiness, most of us will turn to food. That’s because our gut and brain are connected to each other. But what if we tell you that certain foods work much better than others when it comes to keeping you happy, especially if you suffer from depression and/or anxiety.
P.S. We aren’t talking about some exotic food that’s only available at high-end stores for a small fortune. Rather, we are talking about probiotic foods that have been proven to boost mental health.
You see, the brain-gut axis has a big role to play here
According to scholars at Harvard University, our intestine also makes certain neurotransmitters like acetylcholine and serotonin, which are otherwise made in the brain. Now these substances ensure smooth gut motility, and any changes in their production can lead to diarrhea or constipation.
The researchers also add that the brain and the gut can speak to each other, and so it is believed that any changes in intestinal bacteria may also play a role in neuropsychiatric conditions such as anxiety or depression.
But how can probiotics keep you feeling happy?
“There is very little research done on this topic, but I firmly believe that eating probiotics have a positive effect on our brain,” explains Dr Anuja Gaur, head nutritionist at Aakash Healthcare and Super Specialty Hospital in Delhi (Dwarka).
“Anxiety or depression are caused when your brain is all worked up, when you’re overthinking, and or are just unable to relax. Hence, people are prescribed medication to soothe the mind and help them calm down. Probiotics do that too,” she explains.
According to Dr Gaur, probiotics can:
Help you calm down
“Whenever we drink a big glass of lassi, we tend to feel sleepy. And we all know that lassi is loaded with lactic acid which is a probiotic. Sleep is a sort of treatment for controlling anxiety and depression. Sleep puts your brain in relaxation mode and it also helps in improvement of sleeping habits,” she explains.
“The existing research also talks a lot about the creation of new neurotransmitters on consuming probiotics, but data on identifying those neurotransmitters is not very clear,” adds Dr Gaur.
Boost your mood
If your gut health is not in good shape, then there is a 90% probability that you’ll feel grumpy and sluggish. Due to this, you won’t have the energy to do the multiple things that you see your peers do. As a result, you’re likely to feel anxious and/or sad. But if your gut is fine then you can feel the energy flow through you, making you feel happier and more positive.
So there you have it. While there is no direct correlation between happiness and consuming probiotics, there is enough science out there to get you started on this gut-friendly habit.