We hear bacteria and we go “ewww!,” but like most things, there is a light and dark side to the coin. Just as popular culture would have us believe that there are good vampires and bad vampires, there are good bacteria and bad bacteria. Bad bacteria make us sick, while good bacteria can make us party animals. And believe it or not, you can get these good bacteria from yogurt.
That’s right folks, apparently regularly eating yogurt may actually do more than help us lose weight; it can actually alter how we socialize by messing with our brains—in a good way, of course. Researchers have found that the certain kinds of good bacteria present in yogurt (probiotics) may be influencing the production of serotonin in the brain by saying how-do to our brains through the vagus nerve, which runs from the stomach to the brain.
Serotonin is associated with mood changes; low serotonin levels usually mean anxiety and depression are frequent visitors while higher levels progressively elevate a person’s mood and make us better social creatures. Studies showed that healthy subjects who regularly ate yogurt exhibited changes in the part of the brain that handles emotions.
Does that mean that yogurt could help those suffering from major depression and anxiety disorders? Don’t throw out your prescriptive meds yet. Studies are still in the initial stages, far too soon to make any firm declarations. In the meantime, though, it wouldn’t hurt to keep scarfing down that yogurt, right?