Stress and lack of sleep have been pressing health issues for many people all over the world, but a new research has found the solution to these problems in the lesser-known prebiotics. According to a new research by Boulder’s University of Colorado released on 25th February, 2017, prebiotics or gut-health promoters that are food for the good bacteria residing in the human gut, can barricade the psychological effects of stress and improve sleep in humans.
The Study Details:
In the recent past, many studies and research papers have been dedicated to the major health benefits associated with probiotics or the “good bacteria” that are available in dietary supplements and fermented food. However, this is the first time that the scientists of Boulder’s University of Colorado have come up with the suggestion that prebiotics or the food consumed by the good bacteria living in the gut does indeed enhance sleep as well as buffer the effects (psychological) of stress.
The first author of this study (which was published in Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience journal) and Department of Integrative Physiology’s post-doctoral researcher, Robert Thompson, said that they have found dietary prebiotics to improve the non-REM sleep along with REM sleep post a stressful occurrence.
Prebiotics or dietary fibers are naturally found in food such as raw garlic, chicory, onions, artichokes and leeks. On digesting these prebiotic fibers, the beneficial bacteria multiply in number, enriching the gut health on an overall basis, and these bacteria also end up releasing metabolic byproduct. Monika Fleshner, the lead author and Department of Integrative Physiology’s professor explained that some research also suggest that such byproducts have the capability to influence the functioning of the human brain.
The researchers, for this study, fed chow with prebiotics or standard chow to 3-week old rats (male). After this, the researchers monitored the sleep-wake cycles, body temperature and gut bacteria of these rats with the help of EEG (or testing brain activity) – over time.
The researchers found from this experiment that those rats that were fed prebiotic food were in a state of NREM or non-rapid eye movement sleep for more time than the rats that were fed the non-prebiotic food.
The authors wrote that given the fact that proper nutrition along with adequate NREM sleep can affect the function and development of the brain as well as the fact that sleep issues are common part of one’s early life, consuming prebiotic-rich diet can possibly enhance sleep, offers support to the microbiota of the gut and also promote the brain’s optimal health.
When these rats were exposed to a stressor’, the ones with rich-prebiotic diet were found to be spending more time in REM or rapid-eye movement sleep (this REM sleep is considered to be crucial in helping one recover from stress). In fact, research points out that people who get a lot of REM sleep after undergoing a trauma have less possibility of suffering from post- traumatic stress disorder.
It has been found through previous studies that stress can lower the gut bacteria’s health diversity and can lead to temporary flattening of the body temperature’s natural fluctuations. However, the rats fed with prebiotics showed signs of buffering from such impacts and maintained normal temperature fluctuations with diverse and healthy gut microbiota even after being exposed to stress.
Fleshner however said that recommending prebiotic supplements to aid in sleeping is a step too far right now. It is necessary to conduct more studies to examine prebiotics role in sleep promotion or even buffering stress in humans.
Materials obtained from Boulder’s University of Colorado. Note: Content editing for length and style may have been applied.