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Supplements are known to have a positive effect on one’s overall mood. So much so that many should at least try embarking on natural pills prior to taking antidepressants due to their powerful effects. Supplements such as vitamin D, vitamin B12 and magnesium are all effective. A new study has found another type of supplement which could help with anxiety.
Prebiotics are special plant fibres that help healthy bacteria grow in your gut. This makes your digestive system work better.
Prebiotics are a source of food for your gut’s healthy bacteria.
They’re carbs your body can’t digest so they go to your lower digestive tract, where they act like food to help the healthy bacteria grow.
Prebiotics may also help reduce symptoms of anxiety.
In a paper published in the journal Scientific Reports, researchers from Surrey investigated whether a daily consumption of a prebiotic food supplement could help improve overall wellbeing.
The study found that those who received a daily dose of prebiotics improved mental wellbeing by reducing anxiety levels and had better gut health than the control group.
Researchers studied a group of 64 healthy female participants with no current or previous clinical diagnoses of anxiety. Participants received either a daily dose of the prebiotic galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS) or a placebo for 28 days.
All those involved in the trial completed surveys about their health experiences, including mood, anxiety and sleep quality and provided a stool sample for gut microbiome sequencing analysis.
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What is anxiety?
Anxiety is a feeling of unease, such as worry or fear, that can be mild or severe, explained the NHS.
The health body continued: “Everyone has feelings of anxiety at some point in their life. For example, you may feel worried and anxious about sitting an exam or having a medical test or job interview.
“During times like these, feeling anxious can be perfectly normal.
“But some people find it hard to control their worries. Their feelings of anxiety are more constant and can often affect their daily lives.”
Symptoms can include:
- Feeling nervous, restless or tense
- Having a sense of impending danger, panic or doom
- Having an increased heart rate
- Breathing rapidly (hyperventilation)
- Feeling weak or tired
- Trouble concentrating or thinking about anything other than the present worry
- Having trouble sleeping
- Experiencing gastrointestinal (GI) problems
- Having difficulty controlling worry
- Having the urge to avoid things that trigger anxiety.
Dr Kathrin Cohen Kadosh, Reader in Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Surrey and Head of the Social Brain and Development Lab, said:
“This new research marks a significant step forward in that we were able to show that we can use a simple and safe food supplement such as prebiotics to improve both the abundance of beneficial gut bacteria in the gut and to improve mental health and wellbeing in young women.”
Dr Nicola Johnstone, Research Fellow from the University of Surrey, added: “This is an exciting study that brings together different dimensions in mental health research; finding prebiotic effects in a sub-clinical group shows promise for translational clinical research on multiple markers of mental health.”
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