According to a recent study on The Daily Mail, probiotics found in yogurt may help reduce depression and increase brain activity related to logical decision-making.

Researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles’ (UCLA) School of Medicine divided 36 women between 18 to 53 years old into three groups: one was asked to eat probiotic yogurt twice a day for a month, the second was given dairy products without probiotics, and the last was not given any dairy products at all. They all underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans before and after the trial.

The results showed that those who ate probiotic yogurt had reduced brain activity in the somatosensory cortex, which receives sensory information, and the insula, which relays the said information from the brain to other parts of the body, including the gut. High activity in the insula, especially due to stressful situations, may cause stomach cramps, which is one of the signs and causes of anxiety.

Probiotic yogurt also reduced the activity in the part of the brain which is responsible for cognition and emotion, enabling the group to feel more at ease and to think clearly in spite of the provided stressors.

On the other hand, those who ate yogurt without probiotics showed no to changes in brain activity.

Study lead researcher Dr. Kirsten Tillisch notes,“When we consider the implications of this work, the old sayings ‘you are what you eat’ and ‘gut feelings take on a new meaning. Time and again, we hear from patients that they never felt depressed or anxious until they started experiencing problems with their gut. Our study shows that the gut-brain connection is a two-way street.”

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(Photo by Janine via Flickr Creative Commons)

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