brain health benefits of probiotics

Latest Research: 4 Gut and Brain Health Benefits of Probiotics

Do you live in Ottawa? Are you wondering about the gut and brain health benefits of probiotics?

If so, you are in the right place.

Today I will talk about four gut and brain health benefits of probiotics.

In This Article:

Even better, once we have explored probiotics’ gut and brain health benefits, I will explain how to choose a good probiotic.

Let’s begin with a look at the latest research showing that probiotics can help small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), fungal overgrowth (SIFO), and parasites in the gut.

Probiotics Help SIBO, SIFO and Parasites In The Gut

A 2017 meta-analysis and systematic review found that probiotic therapy achieved a 53% clearance of SIBO.

A 2013 randomized controlled trial found that the probiotic Saccharomyces boulardii was as effective as the anti-fungal medication Nyastatin in treating fungal overgrowth in the gut.

A 2006 controlled clinical trial found that the probiotic Saccharomyces boulardii plus antibiotic therapy was more effective than using antibiotics alone to treat Giardia lamblia parasite infection.

Let’s look at the latest research showing that probiotics can help with leaky gut.

Probiotics Help Leaky Gut

The small intestine is 20 feet long, and the lining is one cell thick.

This thin wall allows easy absorption of calories and nutrients, but it also means that it is easily prone to dysfunction such as leaky gut.

The vulnerability of the lining is why 70% of the body’s immune system resides in the small intestine.

So, if anything gets through the lining, such as food proteins or endotoxins (LPS), there is protection.

A 2023 meta-analysis and systematic review showed that probiotics help eliminate dysbiosis in the small intestine, reducing inflammation and leaky gut.

Let’s now look at the brain health benefits of probiotics.

Brain Health Benefits of Probiotics

As we improve gut health, it is no surprise that we see improvements in the brain because of the gut-brain connection.

Inflammation in the gut will lead to a build-up of toxins which make their way into the blood circulation, crossing the blood-brain barrier and stimulating an inflammatory response.

Inflammation in the brain will then lead to cognitive and mood symptoms.

Another organ in the body that can affect brain health is the liver.

In a condition known as hepatic encephalopathy, where the liver cannot adequately clean toxins, they build up in the blood and travel to the brain, creating inflammation and symptoms.

A 2017 study concluded that probiotics probably improve recovery and may lead to improvements in the development of overt hepatic encephalopathy and brain symptoms.

Furthermore, a 2020 systematic review and meta-analysis found brain health benefits of probiotics, including the following:

  • Alzheimer’s
  • Aging
  • Diabetes
  • MCI
  • Depression

Let’s look at how probiotics improve brain health by helping the Limbic system and stress response.

Brain Health Health Benefits of Probiotics By Helping The Limbic System And Stress Response

The brain’s Limbic system includes the Thalamus, Hippocampus, Hypothalamus and Amygdala.

The Limbic system has two tracts.

Firstly the neuro-endocrine tract which includes the Thalamus and Hypothalamus.

In this tract, when you see a stressful event like a car accident, the Thalamus and Hypothalamus stimulate the release of stress hormones such as cortisol.

Secondly, the Hippocampus and Amygdala tract.

The Hippocampus governs learning and long-term memory.

The Amygdala governs “learning through fear.”

For example, if you do something scary or unpleasant, this is where the Amygdala tags events.

A 2017 randomized control trial showed using MRI, probiotic treatment on people with IBS reduced activity in the Amygdala.

Furthermore, the researchers found improvements in depression and IBS symptoms.

Another 2023 randomized control trial found that probiotics reduced Hippocampus activation and depressive symptoms.

Interestingly, increased activation of the Hippocampus is linked to depression.

Now that we can see probiotics’ gut and brain health benefits let’s look at how to choose a good probiotic.

How To Choose A Good Probiotic

Choosing a probiotic can confuse a health consumer due to the dizzying array of choices and the health benefit claims of the manufacturers.

Let’s simplify things by looking at the three main categories of probiotics.

The three categories of probiotics include the following:

  • Saccharomyces Bourlardii
  • A blend of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium
  • Bacillus strains (Soiled based probiotics)

Most of the studies highlighted above are high-level meta-analysis papers that summarize clinical trials.

Each clinical trial uses different formulas of probiotics, but all of them show positive health benefits.

This tells us that it does not matter what probiotics you use; they all will be potentially helpful.

What you should consider when choosing which probiotics to use are three main criteria, including the following:

  1. The probiotics should be made by a company that follow approved manufacturing practices.
  2. Third-party independent testing to ensure reliability.
  3. The probiotics are free of fillers, irritants and common allergens such as wheat, dairy, corn and soy.

Finally, let’s look at how much and for how long you should take probiotics.

The following chart shows the optimum dosing and duration for the three probiotic categories based on clinical evidence.

Lacto/Bifido Bled10 billion CFU2-3 months
Saccharomyces Bourlardii10-15 billion CFU2-3 months
Bacillus strains (Soiled based probiotics)2-6 billion CFU2-3 months
Evidenced-based protocols for gut health.

If you want to self-prescribe a probiotic, choose any of the above categories and start taking them.

Choose a different category if you do not see any benefit after 2-3 weeks.

If you initially experience some digestive upset for more than 2-3 days, stop and move on to another category.

You should take them for three months to benefit most from all three categories.

I use muscle response testing to determine which probiotic(s) are most beneficial in my practice.

Now It’s Over To You

Are you considering taking probiotics to improve your gut or brain health?

Leave me a comment below.

Do You Need Help?

If you need help, I suggest you book a free functional medicine discovery session with me to determine whether my functional medicine approach fits your child’s needs.


The information provided on this website is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease. Please do not apply this information without first speaking with your doctor.

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