Category: Brain Maker


Research – Probiotic Intervention Affects Mood

New and exciting research is revealing a strong connection between our mood and the various bacteria that live within our intestines. This is certainly a sobering notion. Think of it: the bacteria living within the digestive system are, to some degree, involved in determining whether we are happy, sad, anxious or even depressed.

In a new study published in the peer-reviewed journal, Brain, Behavior and Immunity, researchers in the Netherlands explored the idea that changing the array of gut bacteria by giving a multispecies probiotic supplement could have an effect on mood. The study provided the probiotic for a 4-week period to 20 healthy individuals, none of whom had a mood disorder. A similar group of 20 individuals received a placebo over the same period. At the conclusion of the study, both groups underwent an evaluation to determine their reactivity in terms of cognitive function to sad mood. This is a fairly standard research tool that assesses depression.

The researchers demonstrated a significant reduction in the degree change in terms of cognitive reactivity to sad mood in the group receiving the probiotic in comparison to placebo:

 … which was largely accounted for by reduced rumination and aggressive thoughts.

And the authors concluded:

These results provide the first evidence that the intake of probiotics may help reduce negative thoughts associated with sad mood. Probiotics supplementation warrants further research as a potential preventive strategy for depression.

The exact mechanisms that relate improvement in mood to the consumption of probiotics were not specifically presented in this data. But what we do know is that the gut bacteria regulate several factors that do influence our state of mind. First, the microbiota living within the intestines play a large role in creating the various neurotransmitters that have a significant effect on mood, and these include chemicals like serotonin and dopamine. Second, the gut bacteria regulate the level of inflammation throughout the body and including the brain. The chemical messengers of this process, cytokines, are known to be significantly involved in mood and how we perceive the world around us.

But what is unique about this research is that it is interventional. This means that rather than observing how differences in gut bacteria may relate to mood, this research actually made a change in the array of organisms living within the test subjects and then observed the changes in mood as described above. As such, probiotic intervention could be looked upon as representing an actual medical treatment. We might soon be giving bacteria to treat mood disorders!

For more information, pre-order your copy of Brain Maker today and join Dr. Perlmutter’s email list.

  • Ri

    this is fantastic news! since ive started adding probiotics to my daily supplementation i have observed an improvement in my overall mood and others have noticed as well. i think vitamin d is also important in mood regulation but how interesting that there is a direct correlation between our gut bacteria and our moods!a good probiotic can be pricey but i see how well worth it is.Cant wait for your new book to hit bookstores in Canada!

  • Lynn Dell

    At the risk of being repetitive, when I added in raw, fermented sauerkraut and organic kefir (just 2 T. and a half cup, respectively, per day), I noticed I started sleeping better. One of my adult children reports decreased anxiety since starting the capsule form of probiotics.

  • Lynn Dell

    Did any of you catch the Dr. Oz Show yesterday, when he had
    Suzanne Summers on? She was mistakenly dx w/cancer, when really she had mold and fungus from black mold (from a rented house they lived in for a while). She said if she could only take one supplement, it would be a probiotic. She said to decrease sugar consumption because that is what bad molds and fungus feed on. She did not speak on wheat and it’s ability to raise blood glucose levels, though. She said to increase good fats in the diet. Sound familiar? She’s 68 years old and looks fabulous.

    • Ri

      i love Suzanne Somers too! she is a gorgeous woman! but her celebrity status also affords her the luxuries in life that many of us cant afford! she probably doesnt have the same kind of stresses that the majority of non-rich famous folks have. That being said i think stress is a major component to consider in the fight against aging and disease. Managing stress is crucial and that along with exercise and significantly decreasing carbs and sugar and focusing on healthy fats. I love coffee too(minus sugar with just a touch of cream) so glad our wonderful doctor Perlmutter vouches for it.

      • Ri

        great article i found from everydayhealth.com
        basically talks about insulin triggers from sugars that Dr Perlmutter has discussed on here and in Grain Brain
        Hidden insulin triggers.
        You probably know that candy and cookies will give you that “sugar rush” — which causes your body to release insulin to balance the rise in blood sugar — but what you may not realize are the not-so-obvious foods that also trigger an insulin response, like white flour foods and starchy vegetables and fruits such as carrots, corn, beets, squash, parsnips, potatoes, and bananas. Even seemingly healthier sweeteners, like honey, can cause unwanted insulin spikes. The human body does not distinguish between sugar from white flour, potatoes, or honey; they all turn to sugar upon digestion. The key to losing weight is controlling that insulin response by avoiding sugary and high-starch foods so that your body will go to the next available energy source — your stored fat — and break that down for fuel. The end result? You get slimmer.

      • Lynn Dell

        Her gazillion dollar house (which we could not afford) burned down, so they rented a gazillion dollar house (which we could not afford) that had black mold. She became deathly sick and went to (arguably) “the best” doctors, who told her she had cancer, when she didn’t. Here’s the kicker – it was the things that are in the grasp of the vast majority of people that healed her. What put her back on the path to health and what is keeping her healthy is within our grasp.

      • TechnoTriticale

        re: … she probably doesn’t have the same kind of stresses that the majority of non-rich famous folks have.

        I don’t know about Somers specifically, but the majority of actors are fundamentally insecure.

        Part of the problem is that they define themselves by pretending to be a continuously varying list of someone elses.

        Less obvious, Nathaniel Brandon (“The Psychology of Self Esteem”) coined the term “social metaphysics” to describe the main problem that most of his ordinary clients had – allowing their world view to be defined by what they thought other people thought of them. Ordinary people can usually choose to walk away from social metaphysics.

        For an actor, career success may hinge on box office, an adoring public, buzz, ratings, talk show invites, interviews, public appearances, etc. What for most people is a correctable personality disorder becomes their JOB – a professional liability that one cannot easily rise above.

        Their physical appearance is also stressful, particularly if they are trying to remain looking youthful, slender and healthy without some awareness of the hazards of consensus nutritional advice.

        And of course an active actor never knows when, where or even if the next work will arise.

        It is a very stressful occupation, and the money merely allows them to rent some privacy from time to time. Happiness and contentment may be significantly more elusive.

        To circle around to the subject here, actors could benefit from probiotics and prebiotic fiber, but too many of them who reject consensus nutrition are doing vegan instead.

        • Lynn Dell

          Well, she put probiotics at the top of her list, which is why I mentioned her. We all have stress. It differs, and our perception and tolerance of it differ. I’m still amazed over the irony in this situation — all the things she had that most couldn’t afford – 1) burned down, 2) had black mold which made them all sick, and 3) the doctors royally screwed up her diagnosis. The day to day lifestyle changes which effected a cure for her, most can do. And that is very encouraging!

  • Lynn Dell

    Against my better judgment on account of oversensitivity, I agreed to help a security team, (where someone knew I had some kind of background in health care) in a place I frequent, by learning how to administer first aid in a multiple shooting scene. It’s not complicated training. Control bleeding via tourniquet or packing, keep airways open, and sealing off chest wounds. But of course the training included seeing examples of such – such as the picture of the man in the Boston Marathon who had most of his tibia exposed. I credit probiotics, in part, for helping me not be as upset as I thought I would be.

  • Yvonne Forsman

    I am not sure if probiotics in sauerkraut and kefir are more effective than pills, but eating sauerkraut and kefir is for sure more fun that popping pills, and making your own sauerkraut and other fermented veggies and home made kefir (Donna Gates bodyecology.com) is definitely very cheap, a lot cheaper than buying high quality pills (such as Garden of Life Raw Probiotics I used to get at Vitamin Shoppe)! But I think the issue of mood may be more complex that just to fix it simply with probiotics. To my knowledge many ppl suffer from Candida which lives on sugar. As soon as your sugar level drops, Candida strikes, making your mood drop and you craving sugar in any form. Candida also hordes mercury so it is not easy to get rid of Candida just by adopting the famous Candida diet, you need to detox the mercury. By chance I recently stumbled upon info about liposomal vitamin C and liposomal glutathione (liquid on amazon), which both detox metals and help the body to bounce back. I am trying it out right now, will see how it goes. I stopped eating grains over 2 yrs ago and when I sometimes eat beans or lentils I soak them overnight in lemon juice, and also soak nuts and seeds (w sea salt) to minimize enzyme inhibitors which inhibit absorption of vitamins, minerals and enzymes in the digestive tract. I am not religious, I don’t think there is a God, but if she does exist, I am convinced she is a brilliant biochemist! *L* Anyhow, thank you Dr Perlmutter for all the info you are providing us with, much appreciated!

  • Elizabeth Cabrales Madrigal

    Hola……que tipo de probioticos debo darle a mi hija de 9 años ya q ella ha presentado alergia alimenticia desde pequeña, llevó tratamiento de inmunoterapia oral x 3 años con una mejoría parcial, el cual termino hace mas de un año. Me interesa mucho saber su opinion. Gracias. Saludos desde Guadalajara, Jalisco, México.

  • joanna

    I really want to make my own yogurts again but want to check out that it won’t take me out of ketosis. Is it true that the lactose in full fat cows milk converts to lactic acid during fermentation & is therefore ok on a Keto diet?

  • Bethany Danko

    I highly recommend Just Thrive probiotic! It has completely changed our lives…no doctor visits, no illness, nothing but a happy, healthy family! Check it out! I believe it’s thriveprobiotic.com

  • CIC

    There are an increasing number of studies that demonstrate the effectiveness of probiotics in improving response to stress, depression, in addition to gut health. Study in JAMA “Unraveling the Influence of Gut Microbes on the Mind” cites Bifidobacterium infant is and Lactobacillus rhamnosis (L. Rhamnosis is what we recommend for patients taking a course antibiotics). The probiotic that our Infectious Disease specialist has recommended for hospital formulary is Bio-K.

  • Ajo

    The research shows that probiotics may help depression and mood. I would like to know what the research shows about bipolar disorder specially. It seems it may be an exception since it involves the treatment of opposite behavior simultaneously.

    • David

      Check out Dr Joel wallach a nature path Dr.

  • Sarah

    I have suffered from depression and anxiety since I was a very young teenager. (age 41 now) I have been on the grain brain diet for a year including all the probiotics and other supplements. The diet cured my anxiety within a week which was miraculous and has helped my overall health in lots of ways so I am very grateful for that. It has not helped my depression at all though which is pretty bad right now. I was wondering if you had any ideas or advise of why a symptom might not respond or what I could try? My immunity seems to be very low still and I cant tolerate dairy either so maybe I need to compensate fat-wise some how?

    • maria

      sarah, exercise – and a lot of it – is helpful in combatting depression and anxiety.

      • David Perlmutter

        For a number of reasons, exercise is one of the most healthful activities we can engage in.

  • Jean

    I get migraines from the tyramine in fermented foods and drinks. Any suggestions as to how to incorporate foods with prebiotics and probiotics? Obviously I have leaky gut. I also get migraines from many other foods, especially gluten and sugar.

    • Isadora

      Try going vegan. I haven’t had a migraine in a year. I believe the dairy is the problem because I was vegetarian before.

  • Sheri Schmikl

    I’m reading “Brain Maker” where you talk about taking a probiotic with five particular species of bacteria. For the life of me, I cannot find a probiotic with all of those. Can’t you please give us the name of a particular supplement? Or must we take more than one to get all these?

    • Margaret

      Hello, just this week I found that Garden of Life’s “Primal Defense Ultra” has all five strains of the essential bacteria Dr Perlmutter recommends.

    • Isadora

      UP4 Ultra. All vegan and has all the good bacteria.

  • Bacterial balance helps my mood tremendously. In fact, the first symptom I get of a gut bacterial imbalance is my mood starts to get negative (without a reason) and stress gets to me more than usual. If you don’t have enough bacteria, then probiotics are great, but if you are like me (and are prone to bacterial overgrowth), probiotics are the last thing you need! If probiotics do not seem to help you, look into the symptoms of bacterial overgrowth (start with SIBO – small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) and see if that might be your problem. An SCD diet can clear that right up! I agree with Dr. Perlmutter, and have read (and enjoyed) Grain Brain, and I can’t wait to read more. However, I don’t know if I’ve seen him talking about the other side of bacterial imbalance – the overgrowth side. I love fermented foods, and will take any opportunity to eat my home made yogurt, raw fermented sauerkraut, kombucha, miso, etc., but I’ve got to be careful not to overdo it, and especially not to overdo probiotics! It’s a “balance” we need… it’s not always necessarily “more.”

  • Kale Brock

    I think the probiotic from Modere was designed by Dr Natasha Campbell McBride (founder of GAPS) and is a pretty powerful one. I’ve had clients use it to good effect.


  • sjbarry42@yahoo.com

    Here’s a radical thought (sorry to be so simplistic but…) this could be the cure for ISIS? Obviously disturbed individuals wouldn’t you think?

  • Elsie

    Since adopting a paleo type diet with plenty of fermented veg, kombucha, regular probiotics etc. I have noticed my characteristic lifelong irritability and impatience has dwindled considerably. I feel calmer. Nothing else has changed – just my diet. How interesting.

    • David Perlmutter

      Glad to hear you have found a lifestyle plan that works for you Elsie.

      • Lawrence Mitch Smith

        Dr Perlmutter… being that probiotics affects mood and plays a role with the chemical serotonin I would like to point out that this may have a positive impact on those that have BED (Binge Eating Disorder). BED has been shown to have a direct role with depression which, in some cases, is caused by low serotonin levels.

        Also, purchased my first bottle of Garden of Life Probiotics + Mood. Wish me luck.

  • Any suggestion of what products to use to get the 5 core species of probiotic that you recently wrote about

  • lsendero

    Any recommendation on how to take Garden of Life Mood+ probiotic? Should the two capsule dose be split or taken at once?

    • MK

      I would like to know the answer too. Thank you.

  • Diane Langlais

    Dr. Perlmutter, I have Rheumatoid Arthritis and have just started taking Methotrexate 25 mg/ml (0.6 ml – 4 syringes injected once a week) I am a little concerted on how this medication will react with my gut bacteria. I have been on a gluten free, refined sugar free, low animal fat intake, increased Omega 3 and coconut oil, etc., diet. I bought your book called Brain Maker, because I am trying to adopt your recommended way of eating, to help eliminate my rheumatoid Arthritis and avoid Dementia and/or Alzheimer. I am 64 years old and hope to live a brain healthy and auto-immune healthy life! Thank you in advance for your time and all the great work you are doing to help human beings live a better life!

  • Tawni Holloway

    Just wondering if the Ashwagandha in the Mood probiotics is suitable for someone with hep c with minimal liver damage. All the probiotics are great but wondering if the Ashwagandha is a good idea? What about if you only take for a month?

  • Pingback: What Your Food Says About Behavior - Reset Your Weight()

  • Pingback: Improve Your Mood with Probiotics -()

  • Pingback: What Your Food Says About Behavior: The Gut-Brain Connection Explained - Reset Your Weight()

  • Isadora

    I have been dealing with anxiety my entire life, migraines, sluggishness and re occurring yeast. I believe in changing your eating habits to help cure anything but I’ve been a vegetarian for years and a vegan for past year so I was not very eager to cut carbs because I wouldn’t want to eat.
    I must say that my migranes went away as soon as I went vegan but still feel anxious and sluggish so I asked my doctor to check hormone levels, thyroid function, thyroid hormones, vitamin deficiencies etc…All results were perfectly normal right in the middle of normal ranges so what now…
    On a recent visit to Mexico I caught a stomach bug and felt terrible stomach issues that lingered even after a month so I bought some expensive probiotics and decided to give it try to help with that issue.
    To my surprise, I felt like a completely different person. I went on a cleaning binge same day as my first dosage and couldn’t stop until late at night, I felt so energized, my focus changed for the bettter and I’m able to absorve information faster than before. As for my mood, I feel truly great, but I won’t go as far as saying I’m cured cause it’s too soon to say how much it truly affected me as I started taking it a week ago.
    As for the re occurring yeast infections I am not sure but truly hopeful.

loading symbol Loading More