By Melanie Hall
6:38AM BST 30 May 2013
Eating probiotic yoghurt relieves anxiety, says study
Eating probiotic yoghurt twice a day could relieve anxiety and stress by reducing activity in the emotional area of the brain, a study has found.
Study participants who consumed yoghurt twice daily for a month showed lower levels of activity in the areas of the brain associated with emotion and pain, US researchers found, together with increased activity in areas associated with decision making.
Researchers have suggested that bacteria found in the gut send signals to the brain that can change over time depending on the person’s diet.
Previous studies showed that beneficial gut bacteria affected the brains of rats but no research has confirmed that the same effect happened in human brains.
Scientists had already found that the brain sends signals to the gut, which is why stress and other emotions can contribute to gastrointestinal symptoms. The new study of 36 women show that the signals also travel the opposite way.
The participants, all of healthy weight and aged between 18 and 53, were split into three groups, with one eating a yoghurt with live bacterial cultures twice a day for a month, another group eating a dairy product with no living bacteria, while the third group was given no dairy products at all.