I’ve got a gut feeling on this one.

Researchers from the Human Microbiome Project have recently published data about the 90% of the cells in our bodies that are perhaps not OUR bodies at all. The resident bacteria colonies that make up over half of the cells in an average human could be the key to understanding anxiety prevention.

(Credit: http://karenmcelroy.com.au/probiotics-fermented-foods/)

Clunky title aside, the paper that creates a link between microflora and mood, Ingestion of Lactobacillus strain regulates emotional behavior and central GABA receptor expression in a mouse via the vagus nerve, may hold a valuable insight on the link to communication between our resident inhabitants and our most personal moods shifts.

The article demonstrates (at least in mice) that the microflora of the gut directly correlates with behavior and moods, and on the flip side, our mood and behavior have an impact on the population of our gut flora. In the study, probiotics were used on one group of mice, while the other group got broth as a control. The mice were then manipulated in various ways to induce a stress response.

The radical find was that the mice getting the probiotic diet were far more relaxed than the control. The probiotic mice had lower levels of corticosteroid, a steroid produced by the body as an emergency relation to stress. Over a lifetime, chronically elevated stress hormones such as corticosteroid can lead to depression, anxiety, and heart disease, among others. Thus, any reduction of these hormones would be of great benefit to overall health.

The idea of a “gut feeling” may have more depth than we once thought. I might be time to switch to yoghurt with your muesli in the morning.

References and further reading:

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/evolutionary-psychiatry/201206/do-probiotics-help-anxiety