Skip to content

What Is the Gut-Brain Axis and Do Probiotics Really Play a Role in Treating Related Disorders?

Your mind and your body are inexplicably intertwined, with numerous connections between the two. As researchers learn more about the human body and brain, we continue to learn about surprising ways that various parts of our bodies are interconnected. One of these amazing connections is between the brain and the gut. Understanding the gut-brain axis is the first step toward supporting gut health to improve overall health and mental well-being.

The Connection Between Brain and Gut Health

The connection between the brain and gut health is largely due to the enteric nervous system (ENS). This network of more than 100 million cells is found inside the lining of the organs and parts of your digestive system, including the stomach, esophagus and large and small intestines. The ENS helps to control digestion, and it communicates back and forth with the brain via the vagus nerve and other nerve pathways.

Increasingly, research is discovering that certain mental health disorders are connected to gut health. For example, many people with irritable bowel syndrome experience symptoms of depression and anxiety. Experts once believed that the mental health symptoms were due to stress related to gastrointestinal issues brought on by the condition, or that they somehow caused or worsened irritable bowel syndrome. As we come to better understand the enteric nervous system, it now seems more likely that the condition causes the enteric nervous system to send messages to the brain that disrupt the natural balance of brain chemicals called neurotransmitters, leading to mental and emotional symptoms.

Because of the potential connection between brain health and gut health, more experts now believe that supporting a healthy digestive system may provide mental health benefits.

What Are Probiotics and Probiotic Supplements?

Any discussion of using the brain-gut connection to support mental health needs to include probiotics. Probiotics are microbiota or bacteria that live inside the digestive system. There are more than a trillion bacteria naturally present in the gut. One of the key jobs of probiotics is to prevent dysbiosis of the gut, which is an imbalance that occurs when there are more harmful bacteria than beneficial bacteria in the digestive system microbiome.

Probiotic supplements provide a way to increase the number of probiotics in the digestive system. The supplements contain beneficial living bacteria that get released into the gut when they are digested. In this way, probiotic supplements provide a larger supply of helpful microorganisms for you to benefit from.

What Are the Benefits of Probiotics?

Clinical studies show that probiotics may offer the following benefits:

Reduced digestive issues: By aiding in digestion, probiotics may reduce bloating and gas. They have also been shown to reduce diarrhea and constipation.

Complementary treatments: Research indicates that probiotics may ease symptoms of certain chronic conditions like inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel syndrome.

Immune support: Beneficial bacteria in the digestive system can help keep bacteria that make us sick in check. As a result, probiotic supplements may help the immune system to function properly.

Improved urinary and reproductive health: Microbiota imbalances can make yeast infections and urinary tract infections more likely to occur in some individuals. Increasing your supply of beneficial bacteria through probiotics may reduce the risk of developing these infections.

Inflammation regulation: There is evidence to suggest that a balanced gut helps to regulate the body's natural inflammatory response. As a result, doctors may recommend probiotics for individuals who suffer from chronic inflammation and conditions associated with inflammation, such as eczema.

Potential to boost mood: Because of the gut-brain connection, probiotic supplements may support mental health. This may be especially true when suffering from chronic digestive disorders like irritable bowel syndrome.

Better oral health: Studies show that probiotic supplements may lower the likelihood of gum disease, one of the leading causes of tooth loss.

How to Choose a Probiotic Supplement

Whether you want to take a probiotic supplement to support brain health, aid in immune system function or ease digestive issues, it's important that you choose a high-quality product. Look for supplements that contain strains of probiotics that have been scientifically studied and compare the amount of colony forming units (CFUs), which represent how many individual bacteria are found in one serving.

Body Kitchen Gut Balance is one example of a high-quality probiotic supplement. It contains 6 billion colony-forming units from three live strains plus citrus probiotics that can hold up to the effects of stomach acid. These clinically researched ingredients have been shown to improve the gut's response to inflammation in as little as 12 weeks. Just two capsules per day support overall digestive health. No refrigeration is needed for added convenience.