How Probiotics Can Help Your Memory and Brain Health Naturally
7 minute read
Memory loss is something we all want to prevent. Even though it will happen naturally with age, there are ways to promote brain health and keep your memory from fading too quickly.
The most surprising and yet beneficial way to boost memory doesn’t lie in traditional brain-boosting techniques. Rather, the health of your gut determines just how long you can hold on to those memories. And this is where probiotics can come in to help your memory.
When Your Body Is Talking
It is as surprising as it is amazing that the health of your gut is related to the health of your brain. There is a solid connection between your gut and your brain that many people are not aware of.
Think about how you get butterflies in your stomach when you are anxious, or how an upset stomach can make you feel sad. Your brain communicates with your gut via the gut-brain axis, and they work together to keep you happy and healthy.
The stomach is often referred to as the second brain because of the influence it has over your health. Much of your enteric nervous system lives within your gut, and its health and function are directly related to your central nervous system (your brain).
Healthy vs. Harmful Bacteria
The bacteria living in your gut determine the health of your digestive tract. When they are unbalanced in favor of harmful bacteria, widespread problems can occur. Poor diet, stress, and overuse of antibiotics can allow the delicate balance to switch in favor of bad bacteria.
This can trigger inflammation as well as damage to your gut that allows toxic particles to enter the bloodstream. The result is even greater inflammation that can then reach your brain and cause damage to the sensitive brain cells. In this way, memory and other cognitive functions can be adversely affected.
Probiotics: The Real Brain Food
Along the vagus nerve, signals travel between your gut and your brain. These chemical messages influence how you feel, think, and what you remember. Specifically, GABA (a memory-related chemical) stimulates the hippocampus, which is the memory center of your brain.
The bacteria in your gut are responsible for the release of these chemical messages, and when they are in distress, so are the signals sent to the brain.
Pre and probiotic supplements help balance your gut in favor of beneficial bacteria. When your gut is functioning efficiently, your brain can as well.
A balanced gut also prevents inflammation and oxidative damage, both of which damage delicate brain cells and tissues. Inflammation and oxidative damage have also been linked to the development of Alzheimer’s disease, indicating the influence a bad gut can have on your memory.
| Related: Are Gut and Mental Health Related? |
Chronic inflammation can be the result of stress, but it is also triggered by an unhealthy and unbalanced gut. An overgrowth of bad bacteria in your digestive tract weakens the intestinal walls to allow toxins to pass through into your bloodstream.
When this happens your immune system launches an inflammatory response to kill these intruders, but because they travel to all parts of your body, healthy organs come under attack.
When inflammation reaches your brain, it can damage brain cells, including those linked to memory. As a result, the memory center of your brain can be negatively impacted.
A high potency, multi strain probiotic can indirectly help your brain by preventing systemic inflammation in the first place. By bringing balance to your gut flora, healthy bacteria thrive and produce beneficial neurotransmitters that boost mental health and cognitive function.
How to Protect Your Memory
In addition to using probiotic supplements for a healthier gut to protect your memory, there are some other memory-boosting strategies you can employ. As we get older, memory is one of the first cognitive functions to go, but with a little help you can ward off various forms of neurodegeneration.
Cut Back on Sugar
Excessive sugar intake has been linked to poor cognitive function, as well as other diseases. The area of your brain tasked with short-term memory seems to be particularly influenced by high sugar levels.
Omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial for overall brain health and function. Made of similar compounds to the fatty parts of your brain, these molecules support the development and maintenance of brain cells. With regular supplementation, omega-3s help to reduce memory loss and other forms of cognitive decline.
Get Enough Sleep
Sleep not only allows time for your body to physically rest from daily activities, but it allows your brain time to recharge too. Short term memories are strengthened and consolidated during sleep, so a lack of sleep can cause memories to be lost before they are integrated.
Mindfulness practices have been used for centuries to calm the mind and increase awareness. In this way, the clutter of overthinking can be removed, and your brain can function more efficiently.
Studies have shown that mindful thinking and practices have led to improved cognitive performance and better long- and short-term memory function.
Obesity not only puts your physical health at risk but it also negatively impacts your brain health. Excess fat in your body triggers inflammatory markers and insulin resistance, both of which, alter genes that are associated with memory. Obesity is also linked to a higher risk of Alzheimer’s.
Excessive consumption of alcohol can impact the liver, heart, and brain. Studies have found that memory cells become damaged under the influence of alcohol, and short term memories are unable to solidify and integrate fully into the memory center. Binge drinking specifically causes serious damage to the hippocampus, which is the brain’s memory center.
The Bottom Line
With the constant communication between your intestines and your brain, it is important to promote health in all areas of your body. A bad environment in one can cause problems in another. So listen to those gut feelings, and take care of your digestive flora.
The healthier and happier your gut is, the healthier your brain will be, the longer your memories will last, and the happier you will be.