The Psychology Behind Yogurt
Though it might seem odd that a cup of yogurt can influence behavior, scientists are learning that eating probiotics can reduce stress levels—further proof of a strong mind-body connection.
What's the Latest Development?
Experiments at University College Cork in Ireland have shed light onto the mind-body connection through yogurt, specifically the probiotic bacteria it contains. When researchers fed yogurt to mice and measured their behavior changes, they found that "when probiotic-fed animals were put in stressful conditions, such as being dropped into a pool of water, they were less anxious and released less stress hormone." The probiotics in the yogurt activated GABA, a neurotransmitter that reduces the activity of neurons.
What's the Big Idea?
The yogurt experiments show that the brain is intimately connected with the body and that neither act independently of the other. But it is not just our digestion track which influences our mind. In experiments where neurological patients are unable to detect changes in their own bodies, like an increased heart rate or sweaty palms, they are also unable to make effective decisions. "When given a simple gambling task, they behave erratically and lose vast sums of money. Because they can’t experience the fleshy symptoms of fear, they never learn from their mistakes."
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Image from the study.
Image by authors of the study.
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