Can Yogurt Help You be a More Positive Person?
A study on yogurt's effect on the brain.
According to a study done for Danone yoghurt in 2013, the consumption of probiotics can have a direct impact on how your brain processes what you experience.
The study took three groups of healthy women. One group ate live yoghurt twice daily, the other pasteurized yoghurt, and the last no yoghurt at all. After 4 weeks the women went for neurological testing.
The participants underwent MRI scans before and after doing exercises which aim to measure the brain’s response to emotion inducing stimuli.
The exercises consisted of matching images of faces experiencing negative emotion such as rage and anger, to other images of faces conveying similar negative emotion.
After analysis, the MRIs indicated an increase in brain activity in the group of women who had not eaten the live yoghurt. In women who had eaten live yoghurt there was a decrease. The women who had not eaten the live yoghurt were more affected by the negative images than the women who had. In other words the group who had ingested the live yoghurt for 4 weeks remained calmer.
What this seems to indicate is that the regular consumption of a probiotic food seems to modulate our response to negative stimuli.
The significance of these findings is far reaching.
With the World Health Organization (WHO) averaging that 350 million people worldwide suffer from depression we can use a little lightening up. As far as productivity levels go: depression has been buttonholed by researchers as the leading cause of disability in the world.
Besides clinical depression, negative habitual thinking is another phenomenon the world seems to be fighting, with an almost global effort being made by many people to aspire towards heightened levels of positivity.
And if experiencing depression or entertaining negative thoughts, it is quite likely for the average human to be in what is known today as ‘reactionary mode’. This can be triggered by things like, hormonal imbalances, stress, social trauma and sleep deprivation. With research saying that roughly a third of us are sleep starved, it looks we like need everything we can get to stay calm. Even if it is plain yoghurt.
What If I Do Not Like Yoghurt?
Of course yoghurt is not the only food which is probiotic. All foods which are fermented, and have not been pasteurized or tampered with, are probiotic in nature. So if you are impartial to yoghurt, are other alternatives.
List of fermented food and drink:
- Greek yogurt
- Water kefir
- Jun Tea
- Ginger beer
- Root beer
- Spinach kraut
- Other lacto fermented pickles
- Cultured cream
- Cottage cheese
- Olives (which have been cured in brine alone)
Making Your Own Ferments
Unfortunately it can be hard to find unpasteurized fermented products such as yoghurt in stores. Most brands have been stabilized by pasteurization and have lost all probiotic value. What is available, is often more expensive than pasteurized/stabilized counterparts.
For these reasons many people are taking to making their own fermented products at home. While home beer/wine making has become an art – many other ferments are not so complex. Also, where beer and wine making require specialized equipment – things like yoghurt and sauerkraut do not.
Usually all you need is the culture, some glass containers and the ingredients. If you are interested in making any of the ferments above, click on the highlighted links. This will take you to the full guides.
Taking Probiotic Capsules
The other option besides buying or making your own ferments is to take probiotics in capsule form.
Each brand of probiotics will list the exact species of bacteria which it contains. The main species of probiotic bacteria present in the yoghurt used in the study were:
- Bifidobacterium lactis
- Streptococcus thermophilus
- Lactobacillus bulgaricus
Which is Better – Probiotic Foods or Probiotic Capsules?
While probiotic capsules are a very convenient way to take probiotics, they are not always the most effective. They are also a much costlier source than the probiotics found in fermented food.
Probiotic Food is Stronger than Capsules
According to a much talked about lab test commissioned by Dr Mercola, 1 serving of sauerkraut has more probiotics in it that a whole bottle of probiotics capsules. This is quite controversial stuff – as commercial sources of probiotics are generally assumed to be the most potent. This misconception might be linked to the financial backing that brands have available to use to promote the integrity and efficacy of their products. This is usually lacking for natural foodstuff which is unbranded.
Probiotic Food is Much Cheaper than Capsules
Although convenient, probiotic capsules are renowned as expensive as far as supplements go. It is true that unpasteurized fermented products are more pricey to purchase readymade than their stabalized counterparts. But they still work out to be a far cheaper source of probiotics than capsules.
Evidently, making your own ferments is the cheapest way to get in large volumes of probiotics on a daily basis. The ingredients for most fermentations are usually basic and cheap (ie milk, cabbage, baby onions).
The Danone study was the first of its kind at the time. While it broke the ground for more forays into the brain / gut connection, it of course is not irrevocable proof. Fortunately scientists and doctors have now done further research in this area, with some exciting findings!
The additional studies done with regards to how gut health impacts mental functioning are revealing that probiotics are even more important than we thought. They back up the findings of the Danone study, showing evidence that healthy gut bacteria levels play a vital role in the production of neurochemicals such as serotonin. Neurochemicals direct impact mood and mental functioning.
Which corroborates the theories that consuming probiotics can actively help to boost your mood. Thereby assisting you to maintain levels of positivity and calm.