As exam season approaches, anxiety and stress increases both in children and parents. People handle stress in different ways – irritability and rudeness, outbursts of anger and frustration, nervousness and to inability to concentrate, avoiding the stressor (which may mean avoiding studying altogether), panic attacks, negativity, etc. Conflicts between parents and children are common and frequent during exams.
Stress and anxiety can cause many physical symptoms and sicknesses, like acidity, diarrhea, gas and bloating, sinusitis, etc. Additionally, with the change in weather that happens around this period, natural immunity is low and many people catch infections, especially children, who are exposed to other sick children in class and on the playground. And this affects their ability to study well and creates even more anxiety.
Recent studies have shown that just as the thoughts and feelings that emanate from the brain affect the gut, the conditions in the gut also affect the brain and its health. This connection is called the gut-brain axis. Studies have highlighted the role of probiotics in influencing the health of the brain through this gut-brain axis.
Neurons, which are cells found in our brain and central nervous system, tell our body how to behave. The messages are transmitted through chemicals called neurotransmitters that create electrical signals that travel along the nervous system and tell our muscles what to do. There are approximately 100 billion neurons in the human brain.
Interestingly, our gut contains 500 million neurons, which are connected through the nervous system to our brain. Impulses are constantly traveling back and forth between our gut and brain through these neurons as the gut and brain communicate with one another.
Neurotransmitters produced in the brain control feelings and emotions. One such neurotransmitter called serotonin is believed to help regulate mood and social behavior, appetite and digestion, sleep, and memory. Interestingly, a large proportion of serotonin is produced in the gut by the gut cells and the trillions of microbes living there. These gut microbes also produce a neurotransmitter called GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), which helps control feelings of fear and anxiety.
Gut bacteria affect brain health, so changing your gut bacteria may improve your brain health. Eating these foods will help to improve the composition of your gut bacteria:
1. Foods rich in probiotics: Yogurt, kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut and other fermented foods,
2. Foods containing prebiotics: High fibre foods like whole grains, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables. Prebiotics are a type of indigestible carbohydrate, which the microbes need to feed on to keep them in good health.
3. Foods containing Omega 3 fatty acids: like oily fish. Omega 3 fatty acids help increase good bacteria in the gut and reduce risk of brain disorders
4. Foods rich in polyphenols: Cocoa, green tea, olive oil and coffee. Polyphenols are plant chemicals that are digested by your gut bacteria. They help increase healthy gut bacteria and may improve cognition.
Abha’s Probiotics makes high quality traditional probiotic foods that are made with natural, organic ingredients, that are meant specially to improve the balance of bacteria in your gut. Over the past two years of their existence, feedback from happy customers has confirmed that these products do work to improve digestive health and immunity, boost energy and improve mental performance. Currently there are 11 products available, including 7 flavours of Kombucha, Milk Kefir, Ginger Ale, Beet Kvass and Pineapple Tepache. Try what appeals to you and stay with the products that make you feel good. Listen to your body and it will ask for what it needs!