Everyday stress can take a toll on our health, which is why many experts recommend stress-relieving activities such as yoga, walking outdoors and even coloring. Now, new research shows your daily probiotic may also have a positive impact on how your body reacts to stress.
In a recent study, researchers from the University of Missouri fed a group of zebrafish a common strain of beneficial bacteria called Lactobacillus plantarum—often found in yogurt and probiotic supplements. They then monitored how the fish reacted to situations that would typically trigger feelings of stress and anxiety, such as a change in temperature or a decrease in water level (resulting in overcrowding).
When compared with a second group of fish that did not receive probiotics, the L. plantarum fish exhibited fewer signs of stress-related behavior. “Essentially, bacteria in the gut altered the gene expression associated with stress- and anxiety-related pathways in the fish,” said study co-author Daniel Davis in a university news release.
Based on their findings, MU researchers are optimistic about other benefits that may come from using probiotics to positively alter the gut microbiome—especially since a growing field of study points to the connection between a healthy, balanced gut and overall well-being.