Don’t get me wrong, like everyone, our ancestors experienced anxiety. In fact, anxiety is a natural, normal response to potential threats, which puts your body into a heightened state of awareness. However, the issue is that anxiety (characterized by constant and overwhelming worry and fear) is becoming increasingly prevalent in the US, now eclipsing all forms of cancer by 800 percent. That is unbelievably high!
Did you know that anxiety disorders were only recognized in 1980 by the American Psychiatric Association. Before this recognition people experiencing one of these Disorders usually received a generic diagnosis of ‘stress’ or ‘nerves’.
The Major Contributor to Anxiety That Hardly Anyone Knows
Increasingly, scientific evidence shows that nourishing your gut flora with the friendly bacteria known as probiotics is extremely important for proper brain function, and that includes psychological well-being and mood control. It may sound odd that bacteria in your gut could impact emotions such as anxiety, but that is exactly what the research bears testimony to. The probiotic known as Bifidobacterium longum NCC3001, for instance, has been shown to normalize anxiety-like behavior in mice with infectious colitis.
In one 2010 study at McMaster University in Canada, published in the journal Communicative and Integrative Biology, scientists found a link between intestinal microbiota and anxiety-like behavior.
Researchers compared the behaviors of normal 8-week-old mice and those whose guts were stripped of microbes. Those without bacteria showed higher levels of risk-taking and the stress hormone cortisol. They also had altered levels of the brain chemical BDNF, which has been linked to anxiety and depression in humans.
“The gut bacteria talk to the brain in multiple ways through either the immune system or the enteric nervous system,” said Foster. “It’s sort of like if you imagine a mesh network and you took your intestinal tract and wrapped that like a hot dog bun outside a hot dog. There are more neurons that directly surround your GI tract than in the whole spinal cord.”
Our ancestors regularly ate probiotics via fermented foods
There are numerous animal studies showing the ability of probiotic supplementation to relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression. Civilizations all over the world have been fermenting different types of foods for centuries. The earliest record of fermentation dates back to about 6000 BC. Practices such as turning milk into yogurt, cabbage into sauerkraut, or soybeans into miso were necessary in order for our ancestors to preserve food, especially during times when fresh harvest wasn’t available or the cows weren’t lactating. One thing our ancestors may not have known was the amazing benefits that their food-preservation methods really had on their health.
When you find a fermented food that you enjoy, add it to your daily diet. If you don’t like any fermented foods, add a probiotic supplement. Or do both. Both your digestive system and your mood will benefit.