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Claire Parkinson was desperate to find something to help her young son, Giovanni, cope with his constant digestive gripes, such as painful stomach upsets and wind that had afflicted him since babyhood.
Claire says the probiotic supplements quickly made a substantial difference to the frequency and intensity of her son's tummy upsets. Claire claims that since taking the probiotics, Giovanni has been less anxious and there have been 'big improvements' in his concentration and general behaviour.Coincidence?
In one analysis of 60 people, he found that connections between different regions of the brain differed depending on which type of bacteria was most abundant in the gut.In another study, where several probiotics were given twice a day to a group of healthy women aged 18 to 55, their anxiety levels were reduced compared to women given a placebo or no treatment. Other theories include an idea that gut microbes might even produce neurotransmitter chemicals that might somehow influence brain chemistry.So does that mean we can alter our behaviour by altering ourA  gut bacteria? The influence of the gut microbiota on brain chemistry has been convincingly demonstrated in rodents.
Rats were gavaged with fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS), galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS) or water for five weeks, prior to measurements of brain BDNF, NMDAR subunits and amino acids associated with glutamate neurotransmission (glutamate, glutamine, and serine and alanine enantiomers). We conclude that prebiotic-mediated proliferation of gut microbiota in rats, like probiotics, increases brain BDNF expression, possibly through the involvement of gut hormones. There is now compelling evidence for a link between the enteric microbiota and brain function. The prebiotics, fructo-oligosaccharide, (FOS) and galacto-oligosaccharides, (GOS) are soluble fibres which are digested by, and result in the proliferation of, the Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria in the gut.
Studies have shown that probiotics have psychotropic effects, but the neurobiological consequences of prebiotic intake have not been explored. Unaltered BDNF protein after GOS feeding may have reflected the reciprocal change in BDNF mRNA in the dentate gyrus and CA3 region of the hippocampus. The physiological relevance of a reciprocal change in BDNF mRNA in two regions of the hippocampus after GOS intake is difficult to interpret without functional measures. The potential mechanisms underlying the elevation of cortical NR1 subunits after GOS feeding remains elusive, and although they correlate with Bifidobacteria numbers (see Section 3), elevated NR1 may have also been mediated by the direct physiological response of the gut to GOS such as the release of PYY (see discussion below). The demonstration of elevated faecal and plasma d-alanine concentrations after GOS feeding is consistent with studies showing that gut bacteria, including Bifidobacteria, are a source of this d-amino acid ( Konno et al., 1993). The current investigation also revealed that GOS-fed rats contained greater amounts of cortical d-serine than controls.
We have confirmed that the administration of GOS to rats increases circulating concentrations of PYY (Overduin et al., 2013).
Our results have provided the necessary ‘proof-of-principle’ for the central actions of prebiotic consumption. Researchers at the University of California Los Angeles have conducted a proof-of-concept study with healthy women that showed when they consumed probiotics – beneficial bacteria – through yogurt, it altered their brain function. In any case, you already knew that yogurt is a delicious, nutritious way to get your body the vitamins and nutrients it needs. Antibiotics strong enough to kill off gut bacteria can also stop the growth of new brain cells in the hippocampus, a section of the brain associated with memory, reports a study in mice published May 19 in Cell Reports. Wolf first saw clues that the immune system could influence the health and growth of brain cells through research into T cells nearly 10 years ago. In the new study, the researchers gave a group of mice enough antibiotics for them to become nearly free of intestinal microbes.
In another experiment, the research team compared untreated mice to mice that had healthy gut bacteria levels but low levels of Ly6Chi either due to genetics or due to treatment with antibodies that target Ly6Chi cells. The hippocampus after treatment with antibiotics: only few new cells are visible (marked red).
But one result in the experiment raised more questions about the gut's bacteria and the link between Ly6Chi and the brain. With access to a running wheel, many new cells formed in the hippocampus of untreated mice (marked red).
In the future, researchers also hope to see more clinical trials investigating whether probiotic treatments will improve symptoms in patients with neurodegenerative and psychiatric disorders."We could measure the outcome in mood, psychiatric symptoms, microbiome composition and immune cell function before and after probiotic treatment," says Wolf. Could bacteria in your gut be used to cure or prevent neurological conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety or even depression? After menopause, a decline in estrogen levels is linked to increases in inflammation that can cause osteoporosis. Probiotic supplements protected female mice from the loss of bone density that occurs after having their ovaries removed, researchers at Emory University School of Medicine and Georgia State University have shown. Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disorder affecting millions of people worldwide. Geroscience researchers studying the biology of aging briefly treated middle-aged mice with the drug rapamycin to gauge the long-term effects of short-term therapy on health and longevity.
A novel MRI method that detects low levels of zinc ion can help distinguish healthy prostate tissue from cancer, UT Southwestern Medical Center radiologists have determined. We probably do it every day, but scientists have only just discovered a distinct new way in which we move our eyes. Within our bodies, high levels of reactive forms of oxygen can damage proteins and contribute to diabetic complications and many other diseases. Scientists are close to developing a blood test for Crohn's disease that could lead to new treatments. Red cabbage contains antioxidants called anthocyanin pigments, thought to help prevent heart disease and cancer. The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline. Nature’s Way Restore Probiotic 100 Billion contains 15 strains and 100 billion guaranteed live good bacteria to help a variety of health needs including digestive health, immunity and general wellbeing. Nature's Way contains 15 strains of good bacteria and 100 billion probiotics per food pod. Restore 100 Billion is one of the highest strengths available and is a concentrated powerfood with 15 strains of good bacteria and 100 billion probiotics per food pod.
The probiotic-rich formula is beneficial for those with active, busy lifestyles, especially sports people whose immune systems can be under increased stress. Restore Daily Probiotics uses unique encapsulated probiotics so they survive at room temperature. This is not a sole source of nutrition and should be consumed in conjunction with a nutritious diet and an appropriate physical training or exercise program.

Despite her initial scepticism, Claire, 31, a mother of three from Lewisham, South-East London, decided to try giving Giovanni, who was 11 at the time, a dietary supplement containing probiotic bacteria, having read about their claimed benefits on the internet.
However, the idea that the carbohydrate-heavy standard Western diet may be a problem is one to which Mayer and Tillisch subscribe - they believe that compared with diets high in vegetables and fibre, the Western diet means fewer beneficial strains of bacteria grow, allowing 'worse' gut bacteria to flourish.Mayer also thinks gut bacteria may even mould the structures of our brains as we grow up and wants to investigate whether giving repeated courses of antibiotics to babies can affect their brains by wiping out beneficial bugs in their tummies.
In the absence of gut bacteria, the central expression of brain derived neurotropic factor, (BDNF), and N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) subunits are reduced, whereas, oral probiotics increase brain BDNF, and impart significant anxiolytic effects. The effect of GOS on components of central NMDAR signalling was greater than FOS, and may reflect the proliferative potency of GOS on microbiota. To our knowledge, the effect of increasing gut microbiota on brain NMDARs has not been explored, and such information may have therapeutic relevance (Collingridge et al., 2013). The aim of the current study was to provide unequivocal evidence for neurochemical and molecular changes in the rat brain following prebiotic consumption, to prelude future functional analyses. Thus, FOS administration may have augmented the colonization of similar psychotropic strains, within the moderate overall increase in Bifidobacteria numbers relative to GOS fed rats. If these alterations were translated to protein, then it is unlikely that an overall change in BDNF would be detected in whole hippocampal homogenates. However, an elevation of BDNF gene expression in the dentate gyrus has been associated with antidepressant action (Kerman, 2012).
Nevertheless, the significant elevation of hippocampal NR1 mRNA after FOS and GOS administration is intuitive in view of data showing reduced NR1 in mice devoid of gut bacteria ( Neufeld et al., 2011), though it is not clear why a parallel change in hippocampal NR1 protein occurred only after FOS feeding. Since the same animals also showed greater levels of cortical NR1 subunits which are the d-serine binding moiety, it is reasonable to propose that NMDAR mediated signalling was elevated in the frontal cortex.
It is reasonable to suggest, therefore, that the effects of GOS on brain signalling may be mediated by gut hormones.
The increase of hippocampal BDNF after prebiotic intake is consistent with a probiotic effect, and may have been a direct consequence of elevated gut Bifidobacteria numbers. While the findings are extremely preliminary, they do show that there is a connection between the organisms that live in the gut and the brain. They were able to rescue the decrease in neurogenesis by probiotic treatment, physical exercise, or transfer of Ly6Cpos monocytes. Researchers also uncovered a clue to whya€” a type of white blood cell seems to act as a communicator between the brain, the immune system, and the gut. But there were few studies that found a link from the brain to the immune system and back to the gut.
Compared to untreated mice, the mice who lost their healthy gut bacteria performed worse in memory tests and showed a loss of neurogenesis (new brain cells) in a section of their hippocampus that typically produces new brain cells throughout an individual's lifetime. In both cases, mice with low Ly6Chi levels showed the same memory and neurogenesis deficits as mice in the other experiment who had lost gut bacteria.
Mice who received probiotics or who exercised on a wheel after receiving antibiotics regained memory and neurogenesis. While probiotics helped the mice regain memory, fecal transplants to restore a healthy gut bacteria did not have an effect. Scientists boiled cabbage for 11 minutes, or bag-cooked it in a 'bath' at 87c for 50 minutes or 91c for 30 minutes. The method will be tested in animals before human studies can occur - which would take several years. Effects of probiotics on gut microbiota: mechanisms of intestinal immunomodulation and neuromodulation. Probiotics are live bacteria which, when consumed, are thought to colonise the stomach with bugs that help digestion.
The behavioural problems linked to her son's Asperger's syndrome were also significantly reduced, she says.Asperger's is a form of autism that causes difficulties with communication, interaction and imagination. Our study shows the gut-brain connection is a two-way street.'Meanwhile, another researcher, Professor Stephen Collins of McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, colonised the gut bacteria of anxious mice with bacteria from fearless mice.
For example, Dr Faith Dickerson is leading research at the mental health institute at the Sheppard Pratt Health System, in Baltimore, to see if a probiotic can help to prevent relapses of mania among patients suffering from bipolar disorder (previously known as manic depression).
We tested whether prebiotic compounds, which increase intrinsic enteric microbiota, also affected brain BDNF and NMDARs.
The intake of GOS also increased hippocampal NR2A subunits, and frontal cortex NR1 and d-serine. Our data therefore, provide a sound basis to further investigate the utility of prebiotics in the maintenance of brain health and adjunctive treatment of neuropsychiatric disorders. The intake of these bacteria as live cultures (probiotics) alters the expression of genes integral to neurodevelopment and complex behaviours in rodents. The concentrations of glutamate, glutamine, and serine and alanine enantiomers in the plasma, cortex and hippocampus were also quantified.
The specific hypotheses tested were, first, that Bifidobacteria proliferation by prebiotics is associated with an increase in brain BDNF, as evinced with probiotics; and second, that prebiotic augmentation of commensal microbiota elevates central NMDAR subunits, given that these receptors are reduced in germ-free rodents.
In view of these observations therefore, it was surprising that GOS did not alter the levels of hippocampal BDNF protein and, moreover, by a greater magnitude than FOS.
Given the potential complexities of prebiotic actions already encountered (cf: reciprocal changes of BDNF mRNA abundance in GOS-fed rat hippocampus), unaltered hippocampal NR1 protein in GOS rats may be authentic, and mechanistically associated with the increase of NR2A subunits, which was not apparent after FOS intake. In spite of this, central d-alanine concentrations remained unaltered after prebiotic feeding, and this may be because, higher plasma concentrations are required to initiate the appropriate kinetics for d-alanine uptake into the brain ( Morikawa et al., 2007).
Of course, only direct electrophysiological analysis of NMDAR signalling after GOS feeding can prove this. At the same time that the mice experienced memory and neurogenesis loss, the research team detected a lower level of white blood cells (specifically monocytes) marked with Ly6Chi in the brain, blood, and bone marrow.
Furthermore, if the researchers replaced the Ly6Chi levels in mice treated with antibiotics, then memory and neurogenesis improved. This makes Nature’s Way Restore more convenient and easier to store than fridge based probiotics. Restore is a concentrated powerfood with 15 strains of good bacteria and 100 billion probiotics per food pod.
Their beneficial effects are not wholly proven, although there is some evidence they might help with a range of problems, including diarrhoea and food allergies.
Asperger's children may have problems relating to others, and have narrow and repetitive patterns of behaviour and interests. In July, a study by Arizona University's Biodesign Institute found that a group of autistic children had significantly fewer types of gut microbe than other children.Our first dose of 'good' bacteria should come as a baby passes through its mother's birth canal.

In addition, we examined whether plasma from prebiotic treated rats released BDNF from human SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cells, to provide an initial indication of mechanism of action.
Prebiotics did not alter glutamate, glutamine, l-serine, l-alanine or d-alanine concentrations in the brain, though GOSfeeding raised plasma d-alanine.
Interestingly, selective antimicrobials which elevate the levels of intrinsic gut Lactobacilli, also increase brain BDNF concentrations in mice ( Bercik et al., 2011a). It is reasonable to propose, therefore, that an elevation of central d-alanine, and perhaps other amino acids associated with glutamate neurotransmission, would follow prebiotic administration, and thereby present as a strategy to increase brain NMDAR signalling.
Finally, we measured the levels of PYY and GLP-1 in plasma from prebiotic-fed rats, and tested their effect on BDNF release from SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cells.
Our data support both suppositions and present substantial grounds for exploring the utility of prebiotics in the modulation of brain function.
Arguing against a causal link between gut bacterial densities and BDNF gene expression, is a similar increase of BDNF mRNA in the dentate gyrus of both FOS and GOS rats, in spite of the fewer numbers of Bifidobacteria in the FOS group. The concomitant decrease of BDNF mRNA in the CA3 is more difficult to interpret, though one possibility is that we were observing the differential, activity-dependent expression of BDNF mRNA splice variants in each hippocampal subfield (Chiaruttini et al., 2008). Of note, the increase of cortical d-serine did not appear to arise from the plasma but may have been synthesized locally, as suggested by a slight, though not significant, rise of cortical l-serine after GOS feeding.
Ourin vitro data suggest that elevated brain BDNF expression after GOS intake, may have been mediated by plasma PYY. PYY) or other mediators, such as the immune system resulting from direct oligosaccharide-gut interactions, cannot be ruled out. In fact, the consumption of probiotics like those found in Hiland Dairy Yogurt may have beneficial effects on emotional symptoms such as anxiety. So researchers tested whether it was indeed the Ly6Chi monocytes behind the changes in neurogenesis and memory. En route, the baby ingests the mother's vaginal microbes, which begin to colonise the newborn's gut. She had tried all sorts of things - including fish oils - to try to improve Giovanni's symptoms. At present, only several probiotics have been examined, but it seems likely that of the 40,000 species in the gut ( Forsythe and Kunze, 2012), there will be others with psychotropic properties.
It is possible therefore, that prebiotic-mediated microbiota proliferation has similar effects, and the measurement of brain BDNF in rodents administered with these compounds would provide the necessary proof-of-principle. We have also offered an initial indication for the involvement of PYY, and potentially other gut hormones, in the augmentation of BDNF signalling following prebiotic intake. Regional molecular and electrophysiological analyses of the rat hippocampus after GOS administration are, therefore, required. The elevation of NMDAR subunits after prebiotics is intuitive given their reduction in the brains of germ-free animals. One report, in the authoritative journal PLOS One, recently speculated that the effect of Western-style diets - high in fat, sugar and salt - on gut bacteria might be contributing to the incidence of autism. The new research suggests that babies may be passed on a poor mix of gut bacteria if their mothers are stressed. Plasma from GOS rats increased the release of BDNF from SH-SY5Y cells, but not in the presence of PYY antisera.
Thus, intuitively, augmenting the growth of intrinsic gut microbiota with prebiotics (nutrients for intestinal bacteria) may afford greater benefits to the brain ( Burnet, 2012).
Additional evidence suggests that gut bacteria may also influence glutamate neurotransmission in the brain.
The elevation of gut hormones after prebiotic intake might also reflect a direct effect of oligosaccharides on the gut (see below). Of course, the lack of functional information to support our interpretations of these data is the major caveat of this study. The possibility that d-alanine is linked to an elevation of central d-serine signalling, is suggested by studies demonstrating augmented d-serine release from neurons in the presence of d-alanine (Rosenberg et al., 2010).
It is reasonable to assume that our discrepant data reflect the different parameters measured in both studies (i.e. Furthermore, the strong correlation between Bifidobacteria numbers and cortical NR1 levels presented in this report, further supports a link between the microbiota and central glutamate neurotransmission. Another study on mice, conducted by the University of Pennsylvania, suggested that pregnant women may transmit the effects of stress to their foetus by way of bacterial changes in the birth canal.Pregnant mice subjected to stress had remarkably different bacteria in their birth canals than unstressed mothers. Claire was initially sceptical about probiotics, but decided to try them out of desperation when all else had failed. Mechanistic investigations beyond the scope of the present study, are now required to ascertain the systems underlying the observed changes, and will also reveal if vagal nerve modulation is involved. A few days after birth, their pups were found to have the same bacterial patterns as their stressed mothers. Moreover, behavioural analysis in rats will ascertain if the changes in BDNF after prebiotics impart an anxiolytic action, or that increased NMDAR subunits translate to improved cognitive performance. He is calmer and 'certainly has seemed a lot more settled at school', says Claire, who is also mother to Alice-Sara, ten, and Harley, four. However, the presence of neuroactive substances in blood does not preclude the involvement of gut-brain vagal circuitry after prebiotic ingestion. Importantly, our study has provided sufficient cause to warrant further exploration into the utility of prebiotics in therapies of neuropsychiatric illness and which, by virtue of their ability to proliferate gut bacteria and stimulate neuroendocrine (and other) responses, may even prove to be more potent than probiotics. In the stressed mothers' babies, 20 genes were affected by the reduction in the 'good' bacteria, Lactobacillus.These included genes related to the production of new brain cells and the growth of connections in the brain, according to the research, revealed at the Society for Neuroscience conference in California. The enteric secretion of PYY after GOS intake may directly affect local BDNF signalling in myenteric neurons of the gut ( Boesmans et al., 2008), which innately influence vagal nerve activity ( Murphy and Fox, 2010).
One theory is that the bacteria may interact via the vagus nerve, which runs from the stomach to the brain, and communicates feelings such as hunger and fullness.
However, the mechanisms underlying the increase of hippocampal BDNF after FOS intake remain elusive.

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