New research suggests that anxiety symptoms can be regulated by gut microorganisms. Anxiety which is a type of mental disorder is associated with physical problem and stress. The study suggests that mental disorder could be treated by regulating the gut microbiota by using probiotic and non-probiotic food and supplements.
The intestinal microbiota is responsible for various functions concerning the immune system and metabolism. They provide the necessary inflammatory mediators, vitamins and nutrients which help to regulate the brain function through a term called “gut-brain axis”. A group of researchers at the Shanghai Mental Health Center at Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine analysed 21 studies which looked at 1,503 people. Out of the 21, it was discovered that fourteen had chosen probiotics diets to regulate intestinal microbiota, while only seven had chosen non-probiotic dietary forms. Probiotics are living organisms found in some foods, these are qualified as food or friendly bacteria because they fight harmful bacteria and prevent them from settling in the gut.
The researchers found that 11 out of 21 studies showed positive effect on anxiety symptoms when intestinal microbiota was regulated. Furthermore, out of the 14 studies that had used probiotics, more than a third i.e. 36% were effective in reducing anxiety symptoms. Research also reveals that some studies had used both the IRIF (interventions to regulate intestinal microbiota) approach and the usual treatment. It was revealed that non-probiotic interventions were also more effective which used IRIF alone. Moreover, 80% were effective with non-probiotic intervention, while 45% were effective with using probiotic ways.
In a statement about the study, the researchers reported: “We find that more than half of the studies included showed it was positive to treat anxiety symptoms by regulation of intestinal microbiota. There are two kinds of interventions (probiotic and non-probiotic interventions) to regulate intestinal microbiota, and it should be highlighted that the non-probiotic interventions were more effective than the probiotic interventions. More studies are needed to clarify this conclusion since we still cannot run meta-analysis so far.”