(Naturalnews.com) Forget Prozac! Try probiotics to ease anxiety, curb depression, and elevate mood! Could something as simple as eating a fermented beverage or food be a replacement for antidepressants? A group of scientists believe so. Groundbreaking research has shown that a common strain of probiotic can create GABA within the gut while also enhancing brain receptors for this neurotransmitter. Naturally produced GABA is a safe alternative to dangerous psychiatric drugs — it calms the nervous system, promotes tranquil sleep, minimizes anxiety and alleviates depression. This is good news for over 50 million people around the world who use antidepressants, and sleeping pills.
With a 400 percent increase of antidepressant use from 1994-2008, it looks as though North America certainly is a Prozac Nation. An astounding one in five women between the ages of 40-59 use Prozac while nearly four percent of adolescents are on antidepressants. Second only to cholesterol drugs, prescriptions for antidepressants rose to an incredible 255 million in 2010 alone. World-wide, the sale of antidepressants totals over 20 billion dollars a year. This industry does not come without serious health risks. Side-effects of antidepressant drugs include:
– Sexual dysfunction
– Blurred vision
– Restlessness, anxiety, agitation
As if the above were not disheartening enough, antidepressants have been linked with increased suicide rates. There has to be a better way to foster emotional harmony.
A common bacteria may hold the answer as a safe, natural and economical solution for depression along with its siblings — anxiety and insomnia. Canadian neuroscientist Jane Foster found that the micro flora of the gut have a significant connection with the central nervous system. “The cross talk between the gut biome and the brain is continual. That’s the important take-home message. These are not two separate systems; they are two parts of a single system,” says Foster in the Psychology Today article “Your Back-up Brain.”
John Cryan of the Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre at University College Cork in Ireland has taken this idea further by studying how lactobacillus bacteria in the gut specifically influence the brain. Cryan discovered that lactobacillus actually alters the brain-cell receptors for GABA in a positive manner, thereby reducing anxious behavior. The bacteria not only create more GABA receptors, but also produce the neurotransmitter itself which then circulates in the blood. All of this has a profound impact on emotional balance and the nervous system. As observed by Emily Deans, MD, “GABA is a nice glass of wine in front of the fire. GABA is restful sleep. GABA is tranquility and yoga.”
It’s easy to cultivate a healthy dose of this calming neurotransmitter by traveling no further than the refrigerator. Simply enjoy foods like bioK yogurt, kefir, miso, tempeh, kimchi or sauerkraut and beverages like kefir and kombucha. After all, everyone could use a little GABA boost now and then!!
What foods are fermented?
Not all fermented foods taste like sauerkraut. Read about the variety of tasty foods that are actually good for you.
Vegetables – Fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut, capers, artichokes, mushrooms, peppers, olives and the Korean delicacy kim chi are prepared by pickling. Modern processing methods don’t include beneficial bacteria; however, specialty stores still make these foods in the traditional manner.
Dairy – Yogurt, kefir, creme fraiche, and certain aged cheeses are fermented with various live cultures to enhance nutritional value. Those made from goat, sheep or raw cow’s milk supply the best nutrients with the least amount of processing. Organic cow’s milk is also a good choice.
Legumes – Popular fermented products made primarily from soy beans have been part of native diets for over 5,000 years. The Japanese eat natto, which is exceptionally high in protein and vitamin K2. Tempe originated in Indonesia and is made from grains and legumes. Miso is fermented soy paste and comes in several strengths. Red miso is often used as a soup base, where light miso is milder and used to flavor foods. Both are high in sodium and should be used sparingly. Soy sauce, or Shoyu, originated in China and is considered one of the oldest-known fermented condiments. Tofuyo, a fermented tofu product is known as the “cheese of the east,” and originates from Okinawa. Fermented for three to four months, it is prized for its smooth texture, mild flavor, and medicinal qualities.
Sprouted grains and seeds – Grains and seeds can be sprouted and then fermented to provide beneficial bacteria for breads. Sourdough rye or sprouted wheat breads are more digestible than ordinary breads and may prevent allergic or gluten reactions.
Fruits – Umeboshi plums are a small, tangy, pickled plums originating in Japan that promote better digestion. Fermented for six months, they are considered the “king of alkaline foods.” They provide probiotics and potent antibiotic properties.
Water and Juices – Water, coconut milk and fruit juices can be fermented with special kefir starter grains to create tangy, fizzy, delicious drinks that provide friendly bacteria to support the GI tract.
Fish – Nam Pla, or Thai fish sauce, is fermented for many months and used as a popular flavoring and dipping sauce in Asia. The long fermentation process imparts a nutty, cheesy flavor.
Still don’t think you’ll like fermented foods? Imagine the tangy-sweet, refreshing taste of aged apple cider or a fizzy coconut milk shake and then reconsider whether you’re going to add fermented foods to your diet.
Sources for this article include:
Kefir starter grains: http://kefirlady.com/
Want to learn how to eat for optimal happiness?
Marina Love is a leader in the fields of Nutrition, Herbalism, Longevity, Entrepreneurship & Personal/Spiritual Development. Marina studied extensively with The BodyMind Institute and has become an entrepreneurial power-house in Feminine Empowerment Medicine. Marina offers Goddess Circles, Cacao Ceremonies and Individual therapy sessions & Programs in addition to her projects Goddesspreneur Academy, Love Movement, Guiltless Chocolates & Goddess Beauty. Her heart’s mission is to holistically empower women by all means possible in the spirit of sisterhood, non-competition, embracing the Goddess within and holding space for surrender.