Friday, April 20, 2012

The Stress Free Belly...

In case you didn’t know – I’m a big fan of massage therapy. Since stress can kill, and living in today's modern world means stress is a constant companion, massage has become a major part of my wellness program. But here is a stress control technique that surprised me...

Recent research suggests that eating 'friendly' bacteria could help reduce anxiety.

In the journal Neurogastroenterology and Motility, a study found that giving a probiotic known as Bifidobacterium longum to mice with infectious colitis helped reduce their anxious behavior. [1]

And, in another study, researchers at Ireland's University College Cork, gave mice a probiotic known as lactobacillus. They found that doing so resulted in reduced anxiety and depression-related behavior. [2]

So what do these studies mean? Well, to me it confirms my belief that food is a natural medicine, and like all drugs you can use it to better your health or damage it.

Perhaps the benefit of “good” intestinal flora is its ability to improve break down and absorption of the foods we eat. And one of the easiest ways to include Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus into our diet is through yogurt. Many popular yogurt brands now come with probiotics – like Activia - just take a look at the label.

If yogurt isn’t appealing to you, there are also probiotic supplements you can buy at your local health food store.

On a side note, it seems that our bellies also have a "brain" of their own: the Enteric Nervous System (the nervous system networked throughout your stomach and intestines). This system contains some 100 million neurons (more than is found in the spinal cord or in the peripheral nervous system) and can control digestive behavior independently of the brain. It is believed that this second brain could be responsible for triggering the hormones that change your mood and regulate stress.

So until we know more, be kind to your gut... if you feed it properly… it will be kind to you, too.

As Always - Enjoy Your Life!

John Aaron Villarreal

The Legal Stuff: The content and information on this site is not intended to diagnose,
cure, treat or prevent disease. Please consult your physician
prior to starting any exercise or diet program.


1. Bercik P, et al.The anxiolytic effect of Bifidobacterium longum NCC3001 involves vagal pathways for gut-brain communication.Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2011 Dec;23(12):1132-9.
2. Bravo JA, et. al. Ingestion of Lactobacillus strain regulates emotional behavior and central GABA receptor expression in a mouse via the vagus nerve. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Sep 20;108(38):16050-5.

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