With the rise in the work and home pressure, several people are facing stress. Scientists say by taking in foods rich in prebiotics – such as asparagus, oatmeal and legumes – may promote good gut bacteria and help restore normal sleep patterns after a stressful episode.
Prebiotics are well known to benefit digestive health, but prebiotics is less well understood. Prebiotics are certain types of non-digestible fibres that probiotic bacteria feed on, such as the fibres found in many plant sources like asparagus, oatmeal, and legumes.
Certain bacteria also feed on non-fibres such as the protein lactoferrin, which also acts as a prebiotic and is found in breast milk.
‘Acute stress can disrupt the gut microbiome and we wanted to test if a diet rich in prebiotics would increase beneficial bacteria as well as protect gut microbes from stress-induced disruptions,’ said Agnieszka Mika, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Colorado, Boulder in the US.
‘We also wanted to look at the effects of prebiotics on the recovery of normal sleep patterns, since they tend to be disrupted after stressful events,’ said Mika.
In this experiment, test rats received prebiotic diets for several weeks prior to a stressful test condition and compared with control rats that did not receive the prebiotic-enriched diet.
Rats that ate probiotics prior to the stressful event did not experience the stress-induced disruption in their gut microbiota and also recovered healthier sleep patterns sooner than controls.
‘The stressor the rats received was the equivalent of a single intense acute stressful episode for humans, such as a car accident or the death of a loved one,’ said lead author Robert S Thompson, from UC Boulder.