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March 7, 2017 • Healthy Eating & Nutrition

Prebiotics for Peace of Mind

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In a first-of-its-kind laboratory evaluation, scientists have preliminary evidence that prebiotics, dietary fibers that feed the good bacteria in our guts, may benefit sleep and stress resiliency. For this lab study scientists fed one group of mice a diet enriched with prebiotics and a control group of mice the same diet without the prebiotics. The researchers then carefully monitored the sleep of both groups of mice. The mice receiving the prebiotic supplemented diet spent more time in deep, restorative sleep. Additionally, after being exposed to a stressor, the prebiotic group of mice exhibited several signs of greater stress resiliency, including better sleep and superior bacterial diversity in their guts. (Stress is known to diminish gut bacterial diversity.)

There is an ever-growing body of science indicating that the rich ecosystem of bacteria in our guts, also known as the microbiome, has a profound impact on mental and emotional well-being. In addition to supporting the growth of healthy bacteria, bacteria digest prebiotic fibers and produce an array of bioactive compounds that have far-reaching effects throughout the body, including the brain. To nurture a healthy microbiome, we would all be wise to take heed and make a concerted effort to include an abundance of prebiotics in our daily diets. Click here to see the very best foods for doing so.