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How prebiotics may offer a key to treatment of stress

Harold Mandel's picture
Delicious meal of shrimp and asparagus

Researchers say that prebiotics may offer help with the treatment of stress. Prebiotics are various types of fibers which are not digestible.


Too much stress has been associated with many emotional and physical problems such as depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, and heart attacks. Natural interventions to help cope with stress are generally preferable to drugs due to the potential for side effects with pharmaceutical treatment of stress.

Prebiotics may offer help in coping with stress

The finding that prebiotics may offer help in coping with stress is shared. This can be added to other natural measures used to cope with stress such as exercise and meditation.

Prebiotics are not as well known as probiotics which are of great benefit to digestive health. Pre-biotics are non-digestible fibers which probiotics feed off of. These fibers are found in various plant sources such as asparagus and legumes.

Regular consumption of prebiotics may nurture beneficial gut bacteria and healthy sleep after stress

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Professor Monika Fleshner, PhD, and her associates from the University of Colorado, Boulder, say their research shows that regular consumption of prebiotics may nurture beneficial gut bacteria and the recovery of healthy sleep patterns after being confronted with stress. This is very significant since stress actually can disturb the gut microbiome and sleep.

This study was done on rats. The test rats were given prebiotic diets for several weeks before a stressful test condition. These rats were than compared with control rats which were not given the prebiotic enriched diet. There was no stress induced disturbances in the gut microbiota of the rats which ate the prebiotics. These rats also recovered healthier sleep patterns prior to the control rats.

There are negative health outcomes associated with stress

This study has been published in the journal Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience. It has been observed that there are negative health outcomes associated with stress which is severe, repeated or chronic. Researchers have found that diets which are rich in prebiotics may lead to an increase in gut microbial species which lower the impact of stress.

As research continues to determine if this research is relevant for people it seems like a safe course of action to include prebiotics in your diet. Thus far there have not been any negative reactions noted from prebiotics. The bottom line is helping to nurture a healthy gut environment and good sleep may serve as keys to the optimal natural treatment of stress and prebiotics may help with this.