Taking a probiotic supplement wasn’t something that I was really interested in, mainly because I don’t take vitamins or any type of pills if I can avoid it. However, I was considering adding an all-natural supplement to my daily health regimen. Not that I really had any kind of health regimen, but I was willing to start one if it meant that I could avoid taking pharmaceutical anti-depressants for my sad mood.
To be honest, I didn’t really feel like I was depressed – I just felt like I needed a little extra boost to help me maintain a positive mood throughout the day. So, I started a natural health regimen that included a probiotic supplement. And the results surprised me – in the best way possible.
What is a Probiotic?
Truth be told, I really didn’t know much about probiotics until I decided to add a supplement to my life. After some online searching, I figured out that a probiotic is a teeny tiny type of bacteria. And scientists say that there are an estimated 100 trillion of them calling my body “home.”1
Apparently, within this enormous ecosystem of bacteria, there are some “good” guys, and some “bad” guys. The good bacteria are known as probiotics, and the bad bacteria can be called pathogens, because they are more like germs, in that they can cause infections.
Now that I think about it, I remember seeing this on food labels on things like yogurt and sauerkraut, though on the labels the probiotics were just called “live active cultures.” It’s the same thing. The probiotics are the good bacteria that are alive in things like fermented vegetables and yogurt. So, that’s all fine … but what I didn’t know is that probiotics can affect how I feel overall – both mentally and physically. The little buggers that live in large numbers in the digestive system have a mind of their own. Researchers call it the second-brain, because there are so many of these microscopic bacteria that they form a kind of nervous system.2 Scientists call it an enteric nervous system, because of the way the trillions of microscopic bugs inside your gut send a signal to your body, just like the nervous system sends signals to your brain.
Who would have thought that tiny bacteria could be a way to improve my good mood, and also boost my overall health at the same time? Not me. I had no idea they were in there in the first place.
How Taking a Probiotic Helped Me
As soon as I understood the connection between the living microbacteria in my gut and my brain, I decided to add more probiotic foods to my everyday menu. This included some really yummy things like dark chocolate, thick Greek yogurt, miso soup, and kombucha tea. But besides that, since I figured the more good probiotic bacteria I get into my body, the better … I also added a probiotic supplement to my day-to-day routine in the morning. I take just one a day to help with my stress, and anxiety levels.3,4
I must confess that taking a probiotic was the weirdest way I could have ever imagined I would get my good mood back. Once I got rid of the sad mood I was having, my sleep quality got better, and so did my eating habits – as I seemed to crave less sugary and fatty foods. Plus, I was also doing better at work! I even started having fun with friends again at the golf course at night. I felt like myself again, and I have to say I never would have thought that gut bugs would be able to help so much.5
Other Ways A Probiotic Helped Me
I believe that taking a probiotic supplement that includes strains like Bifidobacterium bifidum, Bifidobacterium lactis, and Lactobacillus acidophilus, has helped me to ease my negative thoughts. And science backs this up: A recent study showed taking probiotics can indeed help diminish negative thoughts which can help alleviate sad moods.6
I also noticed a change in my overall physical health. I used to have a lot of stomach irritation (almost every day), but after taking the probiotics supplement for just one month, I felt loads better. I also noticed I had more energy. It was quite a change, and it was needed. Several studies suggest that taking probiotics can, in fact, help ease digestive troubles and boost energy levels. I had NO idea!7-9
I think taking a probiotic was one of the best things I could do for my health. I’m in a better mood, my digestive system is no longer out of whack, and I’ve got enough energy to keep me going through my busiest of days.
- Luke K Ursell, Jessica L Metcalf. Defining the Human Microbiome. Nutr Rev. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2013 Feb 1. Nutr Rev. 2012 Aug; 70(Suppl 1): S38–S44.
- Jane A. Foster. Gut Feelings: Bacteria and the Brain. Cerebrum. 2013 Jul-Aug; 2013: 9.
- Takada M, Nishida K. Probiotic Lactobacillus casei strain Shirota relieves stress-associated symptoms by modulating the gut-brain interaction in human and animal models. Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2016 Jul;28(7):1027-36.
- Huang R, Wang K. Effect of Probiotics on Depression: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Nutrients. 2016 Aug 6;8(8).
- National Institute of Mental Health. Depression Basics. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/depression/index.shtml
- Steenbergen L, Sellaro R. A randomized controlled trial to test the effect of multispecies probiotics on cognitive reactivity to sad mood. Brain Behav Immun. 2015 Aug;48:258-64.
- P Moayyedi, A C Ford. The efficacy of probiotics in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome: a systematic review. BMJ journals. Gut. Volume 59, Issue 3.
- Benjamin Kligler, MD, MPH. Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, New York, New York. Am Fam Physician. 2008 Nov 1;78(9):1073-1078.
- A Venket Rao, Alison C Bested. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study of a probiotic in emotional symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome. Gut Pathog. 2009; 1: 6. Published online 2009 Mar 19.