Nutrition impact on mental health

It’s common knowledge that dietary habits may have significant effects on our health. A new study from the UCLA Health researches, however, shows how nutrition can also alter our psychological and emotional behavior other than just our physical health. In their small trial, researchers found that eating yogurt may affect brain function by altering the gut bacteria’s balance1.

See: Ashwagandha benefits for anxiety

The brain-gut axis connection

Several studies found a strict connection between the central nervous system and the gastrointestinal system, in what is called the “brain-gut axis.” Common negative emotions such as stress or anxiety may have as a consequence several reactions in the gut, such as constipation, gastritis, and diarrhea. The human intestine contains and an incredible number of bacteria called microflora, whose complex interactions may affect several aspects of our physiological as well as emotional health2. The individual’s microflora profile may be altered by the ingestion of several foods, especially those that include living organisms inside them such as yogurt.

See: Role of gut microflora and probiotic effects in the irritable bowel syndrome.

Science & Research on probiotics & brain health

Dr. Kirsten Tillisch, the lead author of the UCLA study, found that neurological signals aren’t unidirectional from the brain to the gut. They go back and forth between them, so they tried to alter these signals with a probiotic yogurt-based diet. The brain state of the 36 women who participated in the study were analyzed prior and before the test through functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). The researching team found that women who consumed the probiotic food showed an increased activity in the brain nuclei that are responsible for processing visceral feelings. These women also showed improved network connections in cognitive and sensitive areas of the brain, although the exact consequence of this activity is still unknown.

See: How to heal leaky gut naturally


1. UCLA, Health Sciences (2013, May 29). Changing gut bacteria through diet affects brain function.

2. Zhou L, Foster JA. Psychobiotics and the gut-brain axis: in the pursuit of happiness. Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment. 2015;11:715-723. DOI:10.2147/NDT.S61997.

3. Boudraa G, Touhami M, Pochart P, Soltana R, Mary JY & Desjeux JF (1990) Effect of feeding yogurt versus milk in children with persistent diarrhea. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr 11, 509–512

4. Meydani SN & Ha WK (2000) Immunologic effects of yogurt. Am J Clin Nutr 71, 861–872

5. Van de Water J, Keen CL & Gershwin ME (1999) The influence of chronic yogurt consumption on immunity. J Nutr 129, 1492S–1495S

6.  Yogurt, plain, whole milk, 8 grams protein per 8 oz. Self Nutrition Data, know what you eat. Conde Nast.

7.  El-Abbadi NH, Dao MC, Meydani SN (May 2014). "Yogurt: role in healthy and active aging". The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 99 (5 Suppl): 1263S–70S

See: Role of gut microflora and probiotic effects in the irritable bowel syndrome.


Dr. Claudio Butticè, PharmD.

See: Leaky gut syndrome, symptoms, and best diet

Milk vs Yogurt difference for health

Your body constantly works to maintain a healthy balance. Including balancing acidity and alkalinity, also referred to as pH levels. Your body closely controls the pH level of fluids like blood and digestive juices. Blood has a pH variety of 7.35 to 7.45. This makes it slightly alkaline or basic. Stomach acid's low pH of approximately 3 to 5.5 helps the stomach digest the food you eat and protect you from external germs & bacteria. The pH scale has a range from 0 to 14, with a neutral value of 7 (pure water has a pH of 7). If the ph value is below 7, it is known to be acidic, and if greater than 7, it is called alkaline.

The pH scale is a logarithmic scale, meaning that a difference of one really changes the concentration by a factor of 10. For example, a pH value of 4 is ten times more acidic than a pH value of 5. Similarly, a pH of 7 is 10 times more alkaline than a ph reading of 8. Your body is good at maintaining pH levels stable. Diet can temporarily change your body's overall pH level. Some foods can make it slightly more acidic. Other foods can help keep it alkaline.

But eating a balanced diet won't significantly impact pH levels if you are otherwise healthy. Milk is a favorite beverage that's hotly debated concerning the pros and cons of your wellbeing. Choice milk, such as nut milk or soy milk, are often touted for their health benefits over conventional dairy. It's important to learn where these beverages fall on the pH scale and what you ought to know about how they affect your body's equilibrium.

Yogurt is made by including bacterial cultures to pasteurized, homogenized milk. The bacteria convert lactose in the milk into lactic acid. This reaction makes it acidic, with a pH value of 4-5. 

Yogurt, though acidic in character, is a low acid-forming food since it doesn't influence the acid-alkaline equilibrium of the body.

Yogurt has probiotics or good bacteria: Bad bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract are among the causes of acid reflux. Probiotics are germs (certain bacteria and yeasts), which are great for the body. These probiotics or good bacteria' stop the undesirable bacteria from growing quickly. Probiotics may help in reducing inflammation of the gut due to acid reflux.

Yogurt Is Easier To Digest: The bacteria release an enzyme in the stomach, which makes it easier to break down lactose. Due to its sugar content, lactose is not easy to digest.

See: Proper Diet Eliminates Chronic Migraine and Brain Fog

Get a Consultation
(650) 539-4545
Get more information via email