Effect of Coordinated Probiotic/Prebiotic/Phytobiotic Supplementation on Microbiome Balance and Psychological Mood State in Healthy Stressed Adults
Background: Interest in and knowledge of the gut microbiome has increased exponentially in the past decade. This once overlooked component of the gastrointestinal tract is now implicated in multiple aspects of human health, including mental (e.g. depression, anxiety, stress), metabolic (e.g. diabetes/obesity), neurological (e.g. Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Autism Spectrum Disorder), gastrointestinal (e.g. irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s), and immunological (e.g. inflammation, cancer) wellness, among others. Previous research has demonstrated the “strain specificity” of probiotic therapy (e.g. Lactobacillus helveticus R0052 for serotonin/depression; Bifidobacterium longum R0175 for GABA/anxiety; Lactobacillus rhamnosus R0011 for cortisol/stress). Similarly, probiotic bacteria demonstrate different growth trajectories based on availability of preferred fiber substrates (e.g. prebiotics) and phytonutrients such as flavonoids/polyphenols (e.g. phytobiotics). Thus, our objective was two-fold: to determine the change in microbiome ecology/balance and to evaluate the psychological mood state following a coordinated pro-/pre-/phyto-biotic supplementation regimen.
Methods: Thirty-two healthy subjects screened for “moderate” levels of psychological stress were randomly assigned to 1-month of Supplement (Amare Fundamentals, N=21) or matching Placebo (N=11). Microbiome balance was assessed in fecal samples using a PCR-based analysis (BiomeTracker) that has previously compared favorably to 16S sequencing for abundance quantification for major phyla/families of bacteria. Psychological mood state parameters were assessed using the validated Profile of Mood States survey (POMS) to generate scores for Global Mood State, and six sub-scales (Depression, Tension, Fatigue, Anger, Confusion, and Vigor).
Results: Following supplementation, there was a significant increase in populations of “good” bacteria in the Supplement group (+28% Lactobacillus; +30% Bifidobacterium) and overall composite score (+17%) versus Placebo (p<0.05). Psychological indices were significantly improved in the Supplement group for both positive (+25% Global Mood; +44% Vigor) and negative (-64% Fatigue; -55% Depression; -54% Anger; -45% Tension; -43% Confusion) mood state parameters versus Placebo (p<0.05).
Conclusion: The World Health Organization has identified mental wellness issues as the leading contributor to global health burden – highlighting the urgency to develop lifestyle interventions to effectively manage depression, anxiety, and stress. These results demonstrate the close relationship between microbiome balance and psychological parameters – and the utility of targeted supplementation to positively influence the gut-brain-axis for improved mental wellness.
Keywords: Lactobacillus helveticus, Bifidobacterium longum, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, depression, anxiety, stress, vigor, mood state, mental wellness
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