Health Bites: Can prebiotics lower anxiety? Plus, very important cat video research.

Health Bites'Gut Feelings': More than Heartburn, Indigestion? There are quite a few news articles this week revolving around the mind-belly connection. New research done in rats suggests that bacteria that live in the gut influence brain development, mood, and behavior. You've already experienced this connection on a daily basis. If you are super stressed emotionally/mentally your stomach can be in knots. So, why couldn't the opposite happen? An imbalanced gut could easily effect your mental states.

Scientists call this two-way street the gut-brain axis, and they're just beginning to learn how the two organs talk with each other. “We’re so far at the tip of the iceberg on this that we don’t know where it’s going to go,” Kasper says.

In one study, scientists in England randomly divided volunteers into three groups: One group took one prebiotic, a second group took a different prebiotic, and the third group took a sugar pill. The researchers measured levels of cortisol, the “stress” hormone that’s related to depression and anxiety, in the volunteers’ saliva. Over the 3-week study, cortisol levels dropped significantly in the group taking one prebiotic but not in the other two groups, the scientists reported recently in the journal Psychopharmacology.

The article does state that it's too early to tell what dosage and which specific strains of pre/probiotics it would take to treat each individual case of depression/anxiety.

Fermented Foods Linked to Decreased Social Anxiety

Another mind-belly related study found that young adults who eat fermented foods tend to have fewer symptoms of social anxiety than those who don’t. The researchers attribute this to the large amount of probiotics in these dishes.

Common Pain-Relievers Linked to Lower Fertility

A topic close to me as I know a few women trying to conceive at the moment, this new study found that young women who regularly use NSAIDs might be seriously undermining their fertility. The study had a small sample size (39) but they did find the women taking specific NSAIDs (diclofenac, etoricoxib, naproxen) had a significant drop in ovulation rates and progesterone levels.

Once the women stopped taking the NSAIDs their ovulation and progesterone levels returned to normal. While the study didn't say anything about common over-the-counter NSAIDs (like Advil) I'd certainly question taking any regularly, and ask my OB about any potential effects on fertility, if I was trying to conceive again.

The Truth About Those Cute Cat Videos

In one of the most "they really needed a study to prove that?" studies researchers found that watching cat videos online boosts viewers energy and positive emotions, while decreasing negative feelings.

Participants in the study reported:

  • they were more energetic and felt more positive after watching cat-related online media than before
  • they had fewer negative emotions, such as anxiety, annoyance, and sadness, after watching cat-related online media than before
  • cat owners and people with certain personality traits, such as agreeableness and shyness, were more likely to watch cat videos


Now, here's 12 minutes of cute cat videos.

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How often do you get sucked into cute cat/dog videos online?

Do you regularly take pre/probiotics?