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Study shows positive effects of probiotics against stress
Probiotics are associated with a variety of positive health effects, from promoting digestion to relieving high blood pressure. In a current 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 in Tübingen examined the effect of the probiotic of the Bifidobacterium longum type (B. longum 1714TM) on stress processing and thereby confirmed the results of previous animal studies. Their results were published in the specialist journal "The American Journal of Gastroenterology".
Notes from previous studies
In previous studies, there had already been indications that "probiotics can both improve stress processing and make it easier for healthy people to deal with stress," reports the research team led by the Tübingen professors Paul Enck (psychosomatics) and Christoph Braun (MEG center) in a press release from the University Hospital Tübingen.
What are probiotics?
Probiotics are living bacteria that are said to have health benefits when ingested. These are achieved by the beneficial bacteria "together with the other bacteria in the human body, especially in the intestine, supporting, among other things, digestive measures and producing vitamins," the researchers explain. There are numerous different probiotics, to which various effects are attributed - however, these are often not sufficiently scientifically proven.
Stress test under observation
In the current study, the researchers now examined the probiotic B. longum 1714TM, which was produced 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 in a double-blind trial for four weeks. The stress processing of the participants was examined before and after the four-week intake. For this purpose, the test subjects were exposed to a social stressor, "which was generated using a virtual ball game on the computer, in which the test subject threw a ball in alternation with two opponents," the researchers explain.
Brain activity measured
The stress level increased during the game, as participants were increasingly excluded from the group in order to create a feeling of isolation, which in this case had the effect of everyday stress. During the test, brain activity was examined in the magnetic encephalograph (MEG). The activation of the brain before and after four weeks of ingestion and between the subjects who received the probiotic or placebo could be compared.
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. In comparison to the brain activity after taking the placebo, "the activity before the game and under stressor stress showed increased vitality and reduced mental fatigue". This is an indication of an "improved adaptation (coping) to stressful situations and counter-regulation in the case of negative emotions."
Objective assessment basis
For the first time, the study results now published show "that a probiotic has a positive influence on social stress situations in terms of better coping with stress by changing the central processing of stress stimuli," reports the research team. However, this statement only applies to the probiotic examined and cannot 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)