Do You Really Need a Probiotic Supplement?

Hey Angels and Alphas,

There’s growing evidence that the bacteria in your gut can affect more than just your digestion and immune system—it can also influence your mood and mental health.

This isn’t surprising when you consider how important the gut microbiome is to basic functions like digestion, nutrient absorption, and immune function, but it can be easy to overlook how these processes work in concert with your brain and nervous system. Here’s what you need to know about the gut-brain connection, along with some gut microbiome tips you can use to improve your mood and mental well-being.

Your brain health affects your mood

The health of your gut microbiome can have a direct impact on your brain health—and, as a result, your mood. In fact, studies have shown that the gut-brain connection is strong enough to influence everything from anxiety and depression to Parkinson’s disease. So if you’re feeling down, it might be time to take a closer look at your gut health. To explore how the gut-brain connection works, we have to understand what’s happening in your gut at all times.

What’s happening in the gut?

The human gut is home to trillions of microbes, many of which are beneficial. But when the delicate balance of these microbes is disturbed, it can lead to problems. Studies have shown that an imbalance in the gut microbiome can lead to inflammation, which has been linked to a variety of health problems including depression, anxiety, and even Alzheimer’s disease. Countless numbers of different healthy and unhealthy bacteria live in your gut at all times, influencing everything from your immune system to your mental health.

A number of studies on humans, animals, and cell cultures have found that an imbalance in the gut microbiome may be associated with mood disorders such as depression or anxiety. In one study examining how bacterial populations differ between people with depression and those without, researchers found that individuals with major depressive disorder had increased levels of Proteobacteria (primarily Proteus), while those without the condition had increased levels of Bacteroidetes (primarily Prevotella).

Probiotics and their role on our health

Probiotics are live microorganisms that, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host. They can be found in some fermented foods like yogurt and kimchi, as well as in supplement form. Probiotics are thought to improve gut health by restoring the balance of good bacteria in the gut microbiome. This balance is important for many reasons, including maintaining a healthy immune system and proper digestion. Probiotics may also influence the brain and mood by affecting the production of neurotransmitters like serotonin.

The benefits of probiotics

Probiotics are live microorganisms that offer a health benefit when consumed. They can improve gut health by restoring the balance of good and bad bacteria, reducing inflammation, and boosting immunity. Probiotics have also been shown to improve mental health by reducing anxiety and depression, and improving memory and cognitive function.

Antibiotics can destroy good bacteria

When you take antibiotics, you’re not just killing the bad bacteria—you’re also killing the good bacteria that live in your gut. This can lead to an imbalance in your gut microbiome, which can in turn have an impact on your brain and mood. In fact, studies have shown that changes in gut microbiota can lead to changes in mood and behavior. So if you’re feeling down, it might be time to take a closer look at your gut health.

The verdict: Should you take a probiotic supplement?

There’s still a lot of debate on whether or not probiotics—live microorganisms that can confer health benefits—are actually effective. Some studies have shown that probiotic supplements can help alleviate symptoms of certain digestive disorders, while other research suggests that they may boost immunity and improve skin health.

The decision on whether or not you should take a probiotic supplement will depend largely on your prior history of digestive disorders, antibiotic treatments, and your overall health. But one thing’s for sure – there’s definitely no harm in taking an occasional probiotic supplement and giving your gut what it needs to thrive and keep your immune system and mental health in check.