Study shows positive effect of probiotics against stress
Probiotics are associated with a variety of beneficial health effects, from promoting digestion to relieving high blood pressure. In a recent study, a positive effect of the probiotic Bifidobacterium longum (B. longum 1714TM) on stress processing has now been demonstrated.
A research team from the University Hospital Tübingen investigated the effect of the Bifidobacterium longum (B. longum 1714TM) probiotic on stress processing, confirming the results of previous animal studies. Their findings were published in the journal "The American Journal of Gastroenterology".
Notes from previous studies
Previous studies have already suggested that "probiotics can both improve stress management and make it easier for healthy people to deal with stress," says the research team led by the Tübingen professors Paul Enck (psychosomatics) and Christoph Braun (MEG center) in a press release of the University Hospital Tübingen.
What are probiotics?
Probiotics are live bacteria that are thought to have health benefits when ingested. These are achieved by the beneficial bacteria "support together with the other bacteria in the human body, especially in the intestinal bacteria, inter alia, digestive measures and vitamins," explain the researchers. There are numerous different probiotics, which are attributed a variety of effects – but these are often not sufficiently scientifically proven.
Stress test under observation
In the current study, the researchers now investigated the probiotic B. longum 1714TM, which was supplied by Alimentary Health Ltd. Cork, Ireland was developed and made available. A total of 40 healthy volunteers were given either the probiotic or a placebo daily for a period of four weeks in a double-blind trial. The stress management of the participants was examined before and after the four-week intake. For this purpose, the subjects were exposed to a social stressor, "which was created using a virtual ball game on the computer, in which the subject with two opponents alternately thrown a ball," explain the researchers.
Brain activity measured
Stress levels increased as the game progressed, with participants increasingly being excluded from the group to create a sense of isolation, which in this case was like everyday stress. During the test, brain activity in the magneto-encephalograph (MEG) was examined. Thus, activation of the brain was compared before and after four weeks of ingestion, as well as between volunteers who received probiotic or placebo.
Increased vitality and reduced mental fatigue
The evaluation of the test results made it clear that the probiotic can produce changes in the brain regions associated with stress regulation, the researchers report. Compared with brain activity after placebo intake, "pre-game activity and stressor stress increased vitality and reduced mental fatigue". This is an indication of "improved coping with stressful situations and counterregulation of negative emotions."
Objective valuation basis
For the first time, the study results published now show that "Probiotics exert a positive influence on social stress situations in terms of better stress management by changing the central processing of stress stimuli," reports the research team. However, this statement applies only to the probiotic studied and can not be applied to all probiotics. In contrast to previous studies, which were mostly based on subjective assessments or psychological tests, the current study provides an objective assessment basis based on brain activity. (Fp)