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Probiotics may provide nutrition for the brain as well as the digestive tract.

Probiotics may provide nutrition for the brain as well as the digestive tract.

Probiotics – the "good" bacteria known to play an essential role in a healthy digestive tract – may have another as yet unrecognized impact on our overall well-being. According to a new study conducted by scientists from UCLA and funded by Danone Research in France, these microbes could also have an impact on overall brain health.

Previous animal studies have revealed a similar connection, a study abstract published by the American Gastroenterological Association's official journal, Gastroenterology, stated. This is the first endeavor, though, to explore whether probiotics "altered brain intrinsic connectivity or responses to emotional attention tasks."

To establish this, the researchers recruited a group of 36 healthy women who had no preexisting digestive or psychological conditions. For four weeks, a selection of the participants received a fermented milk product containing probiotics twice a day. At the end of the study, the scientists found that the females who consumed  probiotics displayed a different degree of cognitive responsiveness than those who did not take in the good bacteria.

The scientists reportedly conducted MRIs on the subjects before and after the trial to distinguish the difference in brain patterns.

"Further examination of these pathways in humans will elucidate whether such microbiota to brain signaling plays a homologous role in modulating pain sensitivity, stress responsiveness, mood or anxiety," the study authors wrote, as reprinted by NutraIngredients-USA.

More in-depth research is required to determine the potential brain-enhancing abilities of probiotics. In the meantime, these bacteria can benefit your well-being by promoting healthy digestion. Studies have shown that, in facilitating the workings of the gastrointestinal system, probiotics may affect weight loss efforts, allergy severity and other health-related conditions. 

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