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Probiotics ease response to social stress

Evidence that the gut influences the brain is increasing.

In this study, 40 healthy adult volunteers took a placebo or 1 billion colony-forming units of Bifidobacterium longum per day for four weeks before a social stress Cyberball game test. Before the stress test, both groups reported increased vitality, less mental fatigue, and better ability to cope with stress and negative emotions.

During the stress test, for the probiotics group only, changes took place in areas of the brain that process stress, altering brainwave activity, increasing the theta waves typical of sleep, and decreasing beta waves active during daily tasks.

Doctors said both groups reported improvements in subjective stress scores after four weeks, but only the probiotics group had physiological changes in neural brain wave activity in areas involved in regulating emotional responses to social stress, a unique new finding. 

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