One of the most promising areas of medical research is the so-called intestinal brain axis, which refers to the biochemical exchanges between the gastrointestinal tract and the central nervous system. In these interactions, the intestinal microbiota plays a key role: the microorganisms, and in particular the bacteria, which develop in the intestines, participate in these complex processes, the determining influences of which are becoming increasingly well known.
Stimulating good gut bacteria
The balance of the intestinal flora mainly depends on nutrition. It has been known for some time that fruit and vegetables contribute to good gut health. A series of recent studies also point to the potential benefit of prebiotic supplementation in improving the symptoms of a range of physical and mental disorders. Prebiotics are nutrients that stimulate the growth of “good” gut bacteria, improve the activity of the microbiota, and thus contribute to better health.
A British team (University of Surrey) has studied the effects of one of these prebiotics, galactooligosaccharide. The researchers compiled a group of young women between the age of 18 and 25 who took a galactooligosaccharide supplement for one month. Different parameters were examined before and after, using two main elements: self-assessment of mood and analysis of a stool sample.
Significant improvement in mood
The participants reported a significant improvement in their mental well-being, especially in terms of anxiety. The examination of the stool of the participants also showed a significant increase in the proportion of healthy gut bacteria, which contributes to a more favorable composition of the intestinal microbiota.
Some foods are naturally rich in galactooligosaccharide. This applies in particular to beans, lentils, chickpeas and Jerusalem artichokes, as well as soya drinks. A consumption of 20 grams of galactooligosaccharide per day would be completely safe, although they can also cause flatulence, bloating, abdominal cramps and diarrhea.