• Robb G. Best

The Daily Supplement That Might Lower Your Anxiety

Have you been feeling an uptick in your anxiety levels lately? It's nothing to be ashamed of. According to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders affect at least 40 million Americans every year, roughly 18% of the total population. The cause is a complicated dance of various risk factors, including genetics, personality, brain chemistry, and stressful life events. The group notes that the condition is highly treatable, and yet only about 36% of people with anxiety receive treatment.

Now, an admittedly small but interesting study has found that taking a daily prebiotic supplement, special plant fibers that provide food for the healthy bacteria in your gut, not only boosts gut health but also lowers anxiety levels.

The research comes out of Surrey, where at the University of Surrey, researchers studied 64 healthy young women between the ages of 18 and 25. For 28 days, these participants received either a dose of the prebiotic galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS), or a placebo. These 64 women were required to fill out surveys about their health experiences, including mood, anxiety, and sleep quality, and provide a stool sample to be analyzed by gut microbiome sequencing.

Of the 48 young women who completed the full experiment, 23 were in the GOS group and 25 were in the placebo group. Those in the GOS group reported lower scores for anxiety during the four-week period.

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."

Added Dr Nicola Johnstone, Research Fellow from the University of Surrey, "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."

On some level, it makes sense: the health of your gut biome has long been linked to mood, and feeding the beneficial bacteria would allow them to more easily flourish. Still, it is exciting to encounter evidence that improving mood could be as easily as taking a single daily dose of the right fibers. So if you have a bad feeling in your gut, before you ruminate, consider trying prebiotic.

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