Cheap petrol at the pump makes most people happy, but oil workers may be less joyous. Researchers at Iranian medical facilities set up an experiment to see if probiotics would affect mental status in some of these workers. Fossil fuel prices were not a variable.
Ali Akbar Mohammadi and colleagues published “The effects of probiotics on mental health and hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in petrochemical workers” in Nutritional Neuroscience journal.
70 workers were randomized in a double-blind fashion into 3 groups:
- Group One: 100 g probiotic yogurt plus one placebo capsule
- Group Two: 100 g plain yogurt (without added probiotics) plus one probiotic capsule
- Group Three: 100 g plain yogurt plus placebo capsule
After 6 weeks of this regimen, mental health was measured via general health questionnaire (GHQ) and depression anxiety and stress scale (DASS)
Improvement was significant in Group One and Group Two on both GHQ and DASS. No upswings in mental state were reported for Group Three, where probiotics were not added either in the yogurt or by capsule.
This adds to the emerging evidence that the gut-brain axis may be the road to better mental health as microbes communicate with the brain and vice versa. In one recent study by Laura Steenbergen and colleagues titled “A randomized controlled trial to test the effect of multispecies probiotics on cognitive reactivity to sad mood” probiotics did indeed alter negative response to a sad mood. This paper also gives a good overview of research to date on this exciting new avenue.