Yogurt lover, you know that this food has many health benefits. But did you know that it could also help you manage your stress and fight depression and anxiety? Explanations from Alexandra Murcier, dietician-nutritionist.
Plain, sweet or accompanied by pieces of fruit… Yogurt is a must when you’re feeling a little hungry or when you want to have a light dessert at the end of a meal. It is already believed to have many virtues, and a new study now adds its possible role in the management of stress, depression and anxiety.
A bacteria present in yogurt gives it these properties
Previous studies have shown that Lactobacillusa bacteria that produces lactic acid, found particularly in yogurt and fermented foods, was linked to the management of stress and mood disorders.
“We knew from our previous research that Lactobacillus was beneficial in improving mood disorders and that it disappeared following psychological stress, but the underlying reasons remained unclear, mainly due to the challenges techniques associated with the study of the microbiota” confirms Dr. Alban Gaultier, co-author of this study, published in Brain, Behavior, and Immunity.
To continue this momentum, the researchers used a mouse model to study a collection of bacteria, called “Altered Schaedler Flora” (modified Schaedler flora, in French). This collection includes two strains of lactobacilli and six other bacterial strains.
Beware of lactobacilli deficiencies
Through their research, the scientists shed light on how lactobacilli function in mice and how a deficiency of them can worsen depression and anxiety. Indeed, mice without Lactobacillus showed higher stress responses.
“Lactobacilli maintain levels of an immune mediator called interferon gamma, which regulates the body’s response to stress and helps prevent depression.” specify the scientists.
An open door to new treatments?
These results open a new avenue of research to find drugs or supplements, based on probiotics, to combat depression or prevent it.
According to Alexandra Murcier, “yogurt contains probiotics, which are beneficial for our intestinal flora and our microbiota. Different studies show that the more we have a healthy microbiota, the more we reduce the risk of developing certain pathologies such as depression or anxiety, or even certain forms of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s..
But be careful, warns the dietitian, you have to agree on the concept of yogurt. “This is natural yogurt and not sweet chocolate or fruit dessert creams, which are very sweet and which will have a harmful effect on the microbiota, on the contrary. You must also consume plain yogurt, or very lightly sweetened with honey for example, to maintain the benefits of the probiotics it contains,” explains our expert.
Attention fans of plant-based products. “Finally, you should know that we do not find these probiotics in plant-based yogurts, like coconut yogurts, for example. So for people who do not consume products of animal origin, they can take probiotics under the form of food supplements” she concludes.