Study: Yogurt Linked To Altered Brain Function

You may want to add yogurt to the next dish you prepare in your online culinary course. Studies from UCLA show that consuming probiotics could change brain function. Probiotics are found in foods like yogurt, and research conducted at UCLA’s Gail and Gerald Oppenheimer Family Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Ahmanson-Lovelace Brain Mapping Center discovered that women who regularly consumed probiotics reacted differently to emotional situations.

“Many of us have a container of yogurt in our refrigerator that we may eat for enjoyment, for calcium or because we think it might help our health in other ways,” Dr. Kirsten Tillisch, an associate professor at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine and lead author of the study, said in a press statement. “Our findings indicate that some of the contents of yogurt may actually change the way our brain responds to the environment. When we consider the implications of this work, the old sayings ‘you are what you eat’ and ‘gut feelings’ take on new meaning.”

To find out how the women’s brains were altered, scientists used fMRIs, or functional magnetic resonance imaging, to scan the brain before and after the study. Women were examined in a resting state and asked to match images and words. Results showed that women who ate yogurt in the study had decreased activity in the part of the body that helps us feel sensations in the stomach. They also saw that women who ate yogurt did not have as much emotional reactivity, meaning they were not using a network in their brains that includes emotion, cognition and sensory-related areas. The women in the other two test groups, in contrast, showed stable or increased activity in this network. Scientists think that probiotics may help with anxiety and other emotional disorders.

“There are studies showing that what we eat can alter the composition and products of the gut flora – in particular, that people with high-vegetable, fiber-based diets have a different composition of their microbiota, or gut environment, than people who eat the more typical Western diet that is high in fat and carbohydrates,” said Emeran Mayer, the study’s senior author, in a press release. “Now we know that this has an effect not only on the metabolism but also affects brain function.”

Scientists concluded that probiotics not only help with achieving a healthy diet, they also regulate the stomach and brain.

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