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The Surprising Benefit of Yogurt You Didn’t Know About

posted: 07/14/15
by: Courtney Reimer
beautiful girl with yogurt
iStock

Sure, you probably knew that yogurt is great for digestive health, or that it's a good option for a low-calorie, high-protein snack. But this next bit of news should make yogurt-lovers smile even more. Literally.

Researchers have found evidence that yogurt can also have a positive effect on your brain and state of mind. It might seem crazy to think of a connection between your stomach and brain, but there's a thing called the "gut-brain axis," which is how your stomach talks to your brain. And yogurt helps those two things both be happier -- so much that some are calling it "prozac in the yogurt aisle."

According to the NPR report that coined that "prozac yogurt" term, researchers in Ireland first did a study on rats that showed the ones who were fed the active bacteria found in yogurt "were a lot less anxious" than their non-bacteria-fed peers. "And they behaved almost as if they were on Valium or Prozac," said John Cryan, a professor of anatomy and neuroscience at University College Cork in Ireland who worked on the study.

The results were so compelling that researchers have tried a similar experiment on humans. Their finding? After 40 days of taking a probiotic, participants "were less reactive to negative thoughts and feelings" than those who took a placebo.

Scientists aren't yet willing to say yogurt is as powerful as prescription antidepressants or anti-anxiety meds, but it's certainly enough to give us another reason to grab some fermented dairy products on our next trip to the grocery store.