In a paper published in the journal Scientific Reports, researchers from Surrey investigated whether the daily consumption of a prebiotic food supplement could improve overall wellbeing in a group of 18 to 25 year-olds. The study found that those who received a daily dose of prebiotics improved mental wellbeing by reducing anxiety levels and had better gut health than the control group.
Researchers studied a group of 64 healthy female participants with no current or previous clinical diagnoses of anxiety. Participants received either a daily dose of the prebiotic galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS) or a placebo for 28 days.
All those involved in the trial completed surveys about their health experiences, including mood, anxiety and sleep quality and provided a stool sample for gut microbiome sequencing analysis.
Dr Kathrin Cohen Kadosh, Reader in Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Surrey and Head of the Social Brain and Development Lab, said:
"This new research marks a significant step forward in that we were able to show that we can use a simple and safe food supplement such as prebiotics to improve both the abundance of beneficial gut bacteria in the gut and to improve mental health and wellbeing in young women."
Dr Nicola Johnstone, Research Fellow from the University of Surrey, said:
"This is an exciting study that brings together different dimensions in mental health research; finding prebiotic effects in a sub-clinical group shows promise for translational clinical research on multiple markers of mental health."