The two main types of beneficial bacteria, which are also called “friendly bacteria” include: Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria. Research is beginning to show that these two types of microflora can lower the levels of toxic compounds that could have detrimental effects on the brain.
Studies show that these bacteria lower immune system compounds called cytokines, in the gut but also throughout the bloodstream. Cytokines are linked to anxiety, symptoms of depression, and cognitive disturbances when induced in healthy adults. Cytokines also lower levels of an important brain and nerve cell protector.
Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria can also act as antioxidants in the body. Alan C. Logan, ND, FRSH, in his book, The Brain Diet, cites four studies that demonstrate probiotics’ protective ability against free radical damage, especially against damage to the fatty component of cells. The brain is largely fat so protecting the fatty component of cells from free radical damage is important to brain health. Here are two of the studies:
One study by Dr. Tatyana Oxman and her Israeli colleagues showed that Lactobacillus bulgaricus protected heart cells against the effects of insufficient oxygenated blood.
In the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Swedish researchers showed that oral administration of a strain of Lactobacillus plantarum, which they identified as 299v, resulted in a 37 percent reduction in a chemical called F-isoprostanes. The latter chemicals are markers of oxidative stress in the body and are elevated in many brain and neurological diseases. In the same study, the group of people taking this strain of Lactobacillus bulgaricus also had a 42 percent reduction in a particular type of inflammatory cytokines.
So while the researchers are proving the gut-brain link, make sure you’re getting enough probiotics in your diet or through supplementation. And, be sure you’re getting different species from both major groups: Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria.
Adapted from The Brain Wash. Subscribe to my free e-newsletter World’s Healthiest News to receive monthly health news, tips, recipes and more. Follow me on Twitter @mschoffrocook and Facebook. Copyright Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD.
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