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Potential For Mental Wellness Through Milk-based Probiotics

World 11.01.2024
Source: The DairyNews
536 EN 中文 DE FR عربى
Potential For Mental Wellness Through Milk-based Probiotics
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A groundbreaking initiative at Fonterra suggests that probiotics derived fr om milk could influence the gut-brain axis, offering a promising avenue to enhance global mental health.

With depression projected to become the leading cause of morbidity worldwide by 2050, a lasting consequence of the persistent global pandemic, Fonterra's research points towards potential benefits from milk-based probiotics in altering this bleak forecast.

Dr. Maher Fuad, the principal research clinician at Fonterra's Palmerston North innovation center, underscores the significant economic toll of mental health issues, estimating a yearly global cost of around US$1 trillion ($1.6 trillion).

While the global cost is substantial, recent years have seen a heightened focus on the link between diet and mental health. The evolving understanding of the gut-brain axis suggests possible solutions, with a survey in Psychology Today revealing that 80% of consumers would consider changing their diets to improve mental well-being.

An earlier collaboration between Fonterra, Auckland, and Otago universities explored the impact of phospholipids – lipids present in buttermilk – on stress, anxiety, and depression. Participants in this study experienced a 45% reduction in mean stress levels over a 12-week period when incorporating phospholipids into their diet.

In the latest study, named Project Happy, researchers investigated the role of probiotic cultures in reducing stress and anxiety. Fonterra already holds two commercially patented probiotic cultures, LactoBHN001 and BifidoBHN019, initially designed for gut health.

As understanding of the brain-gut axis deepens, the trial revealed that a healthier gut contributes significantly to a healthier brain. During the study, 120 participants consumed a daily dose of BHN001, resulting in improved happiness, as measured by the official Oxford Happiness Questionnaire, along with reduced stress levels over a 30-day period.

Dr. Fuad emphasizes the integral role of the gut in the stress pathway, given its status as the organ with the second-largest nervous tissue network after the brain. The promising results from two trials may contribute to shifting perceptions within the field of psychology, acknowledging probiotics as a potential component of treatment.

Since 2020, the Royal Australian College of Psychology has endorsed probiotics as part of a healthy lifestyle for managing depression and mood disorders. Dr. Fuad envisions a future wh ere a combination of phospholipids and probiotics could offer additional therapeutic benefits.

Highlighting the nutritional value of dairy-based proteins, which contain essential amino acids crucial for improved neural pathways and health, Dr. Fuad also notes the valuable role of phospholipids in removing harmful lipids from the bloodstream. As someone familiar with the impact of mental health and stress, particularly from his medical practice in the Middle East, Dr. Fuad finds excitement in contributing to prevention rather than just seeking a cure for mental health challenges.
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