As baby boomers age, they often find that not only do they have a more sensitive gastro-intestinal tract and find they are no longer able to eat some of the foods they enjoy, they also become more susceptible to inflammation and infection from colds and digestive "bugs". The chronic elevated inflammation can also lead to chronic degenerative diseases such as diabetes and cancer. (Maturitas. 2013 Mar 11)
In general, probiotics have been used to help treat several gastrointestinal ills, especially while traveling abroad. Other common uses of probiotics have been in the treatment of yeast and urinary tract infections in women and the reduction of cold and flu symptoms. The "good bacteria" in probiotics are known to aide digestion and improve overall immune function by correcting nutritional deficiencies and increasing the numbers of certain T cells. (World J Gastroenterol. 2013 Feb 7)
A recent study by UCLA and Danone (Gastroenterology. 2013 Mar 5) suggests that probiotics and gut health alters brain activity in healthy adults. Previous studies with mice have shown some interesting results on both sensory and emotional behavior when changes in gut bacteria were made using probiotics. Until now, no similar research in humans showed a possible relationship between gut health and mood. The new study shows through the use of MRI data changes in the brain activity of healthy women on emotional attention tasks after eating probiotic-laced yogurt twice a day for 4 weeks.
These results are just the beginning in the gut/brain research. It is hoped that further research will improve the treatment of patients with abnormal pain and stress responses associated with poor gut health. It just may be true that a healthy colony of gut bacteria leads to a healthier and a happier life.