Although we usually think about the brain when we think about mood, a lot of our feel-good chemicals (including a fair amount of serotonin) are produced in the gut — a phenomenon known as the brain-gut connection. That's why, according to Naina Limbekar, M.D., a sleep neurologist at Boston Medical Center, probiotics can potentially improve mood, emotional processing, and sleep. The best probiotics for your mood will be made with strains that are scientifically researched and show potential to positively affect the gut-brain axis, and they’ll come in a form that’s right for your needs, whether it's a capsule, powder, or liquid.
When it comes to boosting your mood and alleviating feelings of stress, certain probiotic strains have scientific research backing their effectiveness. "Among the studies that have assessed benefit from probiotics in mood, the strains that have shown most benefit include Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains," Dr. Limbekar tells Mic. Each of the probiotics on this list includes at least several species of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, including B. longum, L. helveticus, B. bifidum, B. infantis, L. reuteri, L. plantarum, and L. acidophilus, and many of them do double duty to support your digestive system, immunity, and more. Several of the options on this list also include additional strains for maximum benefits. But one note: If you have a sensitivity to histamines or want a blend without D-lactate due to certain medical conditions, be sure to choose a probiotic that meets those requirements.
Beyond that, there are a few different ways to add probiotics to your routine — with capsules, liquid, or powder. Your choice mainly depends on which method is most convenient for you, but keep in mind that medical experts recommend taking a probiotic with a meal, and you may need to adjust the dose to find what works best for your body. "We need more research to understand the exact strain and dose to confer mood benefit," says Dr. Limbekar.
While probiotics may be a helpful tool for some, Jay Yepuri, M.D., a board-certified gastroenterologist, tells Mic, "The jury is still out on this concept. We currently do not have a lot of research or proof that taking a probiotic can affect one’s mood." And you should always check in with a doctor before trying a new supplement — especially if you're pregnant, have underlying health conditions, or are taking any medications. With all that in mind, read on for the best probiotics for your mood.
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