Mid-term student life: Probiotics for the struggle bus

Right now! There are millions of students undergoing mid-term evaluations with no chance of a netflixer!

In Canada alone, there are over 5 million elementary and secondary students and another 2 million students enrolled in universities and colleges (Statistics Canada, 2018). 

On the struggle bus, they are expected to write original course assignments, present their work, and produce successful examinations.

These academic expectations are piled onto a plate that includes building and maintaining friendships, being close to family, working a part-time job, and\or competing in sport. These are stressors that students seek and align with career goals, self-improvement, and a sense of belonging. Stressors can also arise that are unintended (e.g., failure, job loss) or unanticipated (e.g., injury, loss of a friendship) meaning that goals are delayed or altered entirely while the loss of a friendship could leave them feeling lonely and sad.

At a glance, there is an obvious struggle to deal with these stressors.

The consensus is that students are extremely stressed out right now (this will re-occur in late-November and carry onwards until December ).

Physical signs of stress can vary from one student to another and they include:

  • Muscle tension
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Frequent urination
  • Vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Diarrhea

Mental signs are less obvious, but they include:

  • Increased anxiety
  • Hopelessness
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Panic
  • Frequent outbursts

There nothing that can suppress all of these signs.

However, if you are a student that recognises these signs, there may be an option. You may be unsure about the marks that you are likely to get or you may be nervous about upcoming deadlines. These are signs of increased anxiety and researchers have shown that probiotics could help manage anxiety.

Oral probiotics can enhance gastrointestinal microbiota, which has an impact on cognitive functioning meaning that probiotics play an important role of ensuring mental health (Selhub, Logan, Bested, 2014).

Researchers have noticed that oral probiotic microbes can decrease anxiety, diminish perceptions of stress, and improve mental outlook.

In one clinical study, Messaoudi, Violle, Bisson, Desor, Javelot and Rougeot (2011) proved that one oral probiotic formulation had beneficial effects on anxiety and depression related behaviors in human participants. Participants completed baseline scales that measured their mental health before ingesting probiotics daily for 30 days. After 30 days, participants measured their mental health once again and they were able to reduce their anxiety and depression scores. These reductions of anxiety and depression related behaviors may be due to the anti-inflammatory properties of probiotics.

Oral probiotics can be purchased at your local grocery store. Probiotic yogurt and sauerkraut are examples of products that can raise your intake levels immediately.

If you seek greater convenience (and you need to save fridge space for refreshments), you may try supplementation.

Hopefully you will be feeling yourself! 

References

Messaoudi, M., Violle, N., Bisson, J. F., Desor, D., Javelot, H., & Rougeot, C. (2011). Beneficial psychological effects of a probiotic formulation (Lactobacillus helveticus R0052 and Bifidobacterium longum R0175) in healthy human volunteers. Gut microbes2(4), 256-261.

Selhub, E.M., Logan, A.C., & Bested A.C. (2014). Fermented foods, microbiota, and mental health: Ancient practice meets nutritional psychiatry. Journal of Physiological Anthropology, 33, 2.

Statistics Canada. (2018). Back to school…by the numbers. Retrieved from https://www.statcan.gc.ca/eng/dai/smr08/2016/smr08_210_2016

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