Probiotics have gained momentous attention in the last few years, but perhaps this ‘trend’ isn’t one that should go away.
The bacteria in your gut play an essential role in good health, and recent science shows a link between your microbiome and brain health.
In this article, you’ll learn what the microbiome is, what probiotics are, and what the studies reveal about probiotics for stroke recovery.
What Is the Microbiome?
The microbiome consists of the 100 trillion microbes that live inside your body – outnumbering your cells 10 to 1! These microbes play an essential role in a healthy digestive and immune system to help protect you from disease.
What Are Probiotics?
Probiotics are the ‘good’ bacteria that are part of your microbiome.
When the good bacteria are overrun by bad bacteria, that’s when problems like excessive inflammation and illness start to occur. Some inflammation is necessary though, like for healing when you scrape your knee, so it’s important to keep your microbiome balanced between both good and bad bacteria.
If you’re eating a generally healthy, plant-based diet with some occasional fermented foods and yogurt, which are high in probiotics, you probably have a balanced microbiome. For more information on how diet and lifestyle affect your microbiome, see this article by Dr. Frank Lipman.
How Does Your Microbiome Affect Your Brain?
Now that you know what your microbiome is, let’s dig into how it affects your brain. Studies have shown that the microbiome plays a significant role in brain functions like stress response and emotion-driven behavior.
Also, some research has shown that the “lack of the normal endogenous microbiome actually functions to increase permeability of the blood-brain barrier, thereby giving potentially harmful metabolites of immune responses and pathogenic microbes access to the brain itself.”
In other words, having an unhealthy microbiome could give the ‘bad’ bacteria access to your brain – yikes!
How Can a Healthy Microbiome Boost Stroke Recovery?
Now that the link between your microbiome and your brain has been established, more research is being conducted on the effectiveness of probiotics for stroke recovery.
One study showed that giving a ‘beneficial’ microbiome to animals could positively impact stroke recovery. In the study, young microbiomes (i.e. healthy, lively bacteria) were tested against aged microbiomes (much less lively bacteria) to see if the young microbiomes could help protect against brain damage during stroke.
Indeed, the study concluded that young microbiomes provided protective benefits while the aged microbiomes didn’t. Although this study was conducted on animals, it highlights promising potential for probiotics for stroke recovery and prevention in humans.
While the effectiveness of probiotics for stroke recovery is still being researched, a healthy microbiome should be a priority no matter what your personal health goals are.
How to you get your probiotics?
Have you noticed a change in your mood when you take them?
Leave us a comment below and share your healthy tips.