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Can probiotics improve your mental health?

09 May, 2023
An image representing mental health, featuring a person sitting on the floor forlorn and exhausted

Probiotics are live microorganisms that provide numerous health benefits. Usually referred to as ‘beneficial bacteria’, they can do wonders for both your physical and mental health.

Consuming a daily intake of probiotics, whether through foods or supplements, can improve digestive health, reduce depression and anxiety and promote heart health.

Your body is home to trillions of bacteria, most of which are found in the gut. Recent studies have found that these gut bacteria also have benefits on the brain and mental health, as well as physical health. While more research is needed to prove the impacts probiotics have on mental health disorders such as depression, existing research is promising and many people will find it beneficial to introduce foods high in probiotics to their diet, in addition to medication and other treatments.


Probiotics have become a popular supplement in recent years, and it’s no surprise why. They’re an easy way to add beneficial bacteria to your digestive system. But did you know that some studies suggest probiotics can also help with mental health? That’s right, taking probiotics may be useful for managing anxiety and depression.

The idea behind this is that when the gut microbiome is out of balance, it can have an impact on overall brain health. Therefore, by restoring the balance of good bacteria through probiotic supplementation, certain mental symptoms may be alleviated. For example, one study found that people who took a specific strain of probiotics reported fewer feelings of social anxiety than those who didn’t take the supplement. Additionally, various studies suggest that there are connections between poor gut health and depressive symptoms.

It’s no surprise that a healthy body often aids in a healthier mind. When you get enough exercise, fresh air and follow a healthy diet, more often than not, you feel more energised, happy and elevated in general. 

Stress, anxiety and depression are all on the rise, with many people across the globe having experienced, or knowing someone who has experienced, these mental health disorders. Mental health problems are often caused by increased levels of cortisol, the body’s stress hormone. Probiotics have been found to improve and lower these levels of cortisol, resulting in improved mental health.

Probiotics also come with several physical health benefits that can have a direct impact on your mental health. They can relieve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and help ward off infections after traumatic brain injuries. 



Probiotics are essential for gut health and a healthy lifestyle. With so many benefits, it’s no wonder that probiotics have become increasingly popular. But how can you fit more of these beneficial bacteria into your diet?

One way to get more probiotics is to include fermented foods. They contain high amounts of beneficial microorganisms which provide the body with natural sources of probiotics. You could also look out for commercially produced products like drinks or supplements which offer added convenience when it comes to increasing your daily intake of probiotics. Some of the best probiotic-rich foods include:


Yoghurt is a food that can be easily added to your diet either as a snack or an addition to your breakfast meal. It contains probiotics which are good for gut health and can help improve digestion.


Kimchi is a traditional Korean dish made from fermented vegetables with a variety of seasonings. It is a healthy probiotic food that can be eaten as an appetiser, side dish, or main course.


Miso is a Japanese seasoning made by fermenting soybeans with salt and other ingredients. It’s high in protein and has many health benefits, including improving gut health, aiding in weight loss, and having anti-inflammatory properties.


Sauerkraut is a traditional food that has been consumed for centuries. It has recently gained popularity among health-conscious consumers as a superfood packed with probiotic benefits. Sauerkraut contains large amounts of lactic acid bacteria, which help to promote healthy digestion and boost your immune system. Along with the beneficial bacteria, it also provides essential vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, calcium, iron, magnesium and potassium. The fermentation process of making sauerkraut helps to preserve these nutrients for longer periods of time than other vegetables would normally keep them for. 


Pickles are a low-calorie snack that contain probiotics which again improve gut health as well as immune system function. 

Cottage cheese

Cottage cheese is made by churning milk curds with a lactic acid starter culture which gives the dairy product its signature creamy texture. This fermentation process also helps promote the growth of beneficial bacteria like probiotics. Cottage cheese is also an excellent source of protein, making it an ideal choice for those looking to build muscle mass or maintain a healthy weight.


Kombucha is a fermented tea that has been around for centuries. It’s becoming increasingly popular as a health drink, and one of the main reasons for this is that it’s rich in probiotics.

When the tea ferments with yeast and bacteria, the result is an acidic drink full of beneficial organisms. These work as a natural preservative and help keep the gut balanced by restoring healthy bacteria cultures. In addition, kombucha also contains vitamins B1 & B6, antioxidants and other helpful enzymes. Be warned, though – it also contains trace amounts of alcohol.


Probiotics play a key role in helping to strengthen the body’s digestive and immune systems, and while there isn’t yet enough research to prove it, studies so far are showing positive outcomes for people’s mental health after increasing or introducing probiotics into their diet.

If you are concerned your diet might not be providing the probiotics you need, you can get supplemental support to top-up any shortfalls. Lily & Loaf’s range of natural, nutritional adult probiotic supplements are a good way of making sure you get enough probiotics daily to achieve the perfect balance.