It has long been the contention of Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicines that the route of all health problems can be traced to the gut. Mainstream science has since started studying the effect your intestinal flora has on your overall health and well-being.The results have been interesting and have borne out the ancient wisdom. Especially interesting is the link between brain health and the health of you intestinal flora.
Gut Health and Mental HealthA study conducted by UCLA showed that those who took probiotics twice daily for a month had more marked brain activity in several different areas – including emotional and sensory receptors.
Probiotics for Good Mental HealthThe upshot of this is that making sure that your intestinal flora are properly balanced is essential to good mental health. You have a mixture of bacteria in your gut that are essential for proper digestion and nutrient absorption. Some are what we consider good bacteria, others are not. Both are, however, necessary. In a perfectly healthy system, they keep each other in check. This is, however, a very delicate balance and is easy to disrupt. With the lifestyles we live today, the beneficial bacteria are at a distinct disadvantage. Bad eating habits, antibiotics and stress can completely knock out the good bacteria and thus allow the bad bacteria to thrive. This in turn makes your intestinal digestive defences weaker and more food proteins can cross over into your blood stream, triggering allergic reactions. This, in turn, can lead to problems with your immune system and cause an increase in the stress on an already over-stressed system. With less resources available to it, your brain cannot function at full capacity and so you start to feel the effects of stress more keenly. Over time, people begin to feel less and less mentally sharp and depression starts to set in.
Get the Balance RightThe first step in making probiotics for good mental health work, is to restore your digestive bacterial balance. This means eating the right foods. Highly processed foods or foods high in sugar feed the bad bacteria and give no support to the good bacteria at all. Start by adding in more fresh fruit and vegetables – as much raw food as possible – to help feed the good bacteria. Add fermented foods e.g. sauerkraut, kefir to your diet. These introduce good bacteria which you may be lacking and keep supporting their proliferation.
Supplement Probiotics for Good Mental HealthIf your system is already unbalanced, you will need to supplement with a good probiotic supplement in order to set things right. You do need to make sure to choose your supplement carefully though - you need not only the right strain of bacteria, but also in a strength that makes a difference. Be on the lookout for Acidophilus and Bifidus strains of bacteria. Also check how they should be taken – should they be taken with food, or before meals? This can make a huge difference to their overall effectiveness. In most cases, probiotics are taken on an empty stomach. 'Ask a Naturopath'about which Probiotic is the right one for you. If you are being treated with antibiotics, take your probiotics at a separate time otherwise the antibiotics will kill off the bacteria.
For more about probiotics and intestinal health also see our article Good Helath Begins in the Gut