Their confusion is understandable. Big food companies spend a lot of money on studies to show off the healthy value of foods they produce, like this 2013 study published in the journal Gastroenterology funded by Danone Research.
For this small study, scientists tested the effect of a non-fermented yogurt containing four different strains of probiotic bacteria on 36 women (ages 18-55) for four weeks on brain functionality.
Patients were divided into three groups: Women who ate the yogurt with beneficial bacteria twice a day, a plain mixture with no bacteria or nothing at all.
Based on functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) done before and after the four-week period, women who ate the yogurt containing probiotic bacteria experienced a decrease in engagement in parts of their brains when shown a series of frightened or angry faces, then matching these with other faces showing the same emotions.
Also, women who ate the probiotic-laced yogurt experienced greater connectivity with the prefrontal cortex during a resting fMRI. In fact, scientists were surprised to see these effects in many areas of the brain, including sensory processing.
The real benefit of this study was to demonstrate one more time how consuming beneficial probiotic bacteria affects the gut-brain axis — the biological connection linking the gut, emotions and brain as one — in very positive ways.
Why not yogurt?
Still, the looming question — Why isn’t the yogurt you’re eating having the same effect on your gut health and emotions? — remains.
It’s very possible scientists tested a mixture of live bacteria in that non-fermented yogurt. Unfortunately, most brands of yogurt you’ll find at your neighborhood grocery store are made with high-heat pasteurization.
This processing kills harmful bacteria at the expense of introducing new bacteria that may not benefit your health.
Plus, most yogurt brands are made with a problematic list of ingredients (artificial sweeteners, dairy fat or sugar) that can drive obesity.
To derive any gut health benefits from yogurt or other probiotic/fermented foods we reviewed in a recent blog post, you’ll probably need to prepare them, a time-consuming task that requires a lot of time and follow strict food safety guidelines to protect yourself from illness.
The major difference between eating yogurt or fermented foods and taking a daily probiotic is a pretty simple one. With foods, you’re not sure how much beneficial bacteria you’re eating from serving to serving, if any at all.
Taking probiotics, like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic and EndoMune Junior, ensures you’re receiving multiple strains of beneficial bacteria plus prebiotics that feed the good bacteria already living in your gut.