Summary: Upping your intake of prebiotics is not only beneficial for your gut bacteria, it may also help to recover normal sleep patterns following a stressful event, a new study reports.
Recent study shows prebiotic fibers can help to protect beneficial gut bacteria and restore healthy sleep patterns after a stressful event.
What are some ways you cope with stresses in your life? Do you do yoga? Meditate? Exercise? Perhaps you should add taking prebiotics to that list.
Probiotics are well known to benefit digestive health, but prebiotics are less well understood. Prebiotics are certain types of non-digestible fibers that probiotic bacteria feed on, such as the fibers found in many plant sources like asparagus, oatmeal, and legumes. Certain bacteria also feed on non-fibers such as the protein lactoferrin, which also acts like a prebiotic and is found in breast milk.
According to a new study published in the online journal, Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience by Professor Monika Fleshner, PhD, and her team from the University of Colorado, Boulder, regular intake of prebiotics may promote beneficial gut bacteria and recovery of normal sleep patterns after a stressful episode.
“Acute stress can disrupt the gut microbiome,” explained Dr. Agnieszka Mika, a postdoctoral fellow and one of the authors of the study, “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. 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.”
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. Interestingly, rats that ate prebiotics prior to the stressful event did not experience stress-induced disruption in their gut microbiota, and also recovered healthier sleep patterns sooner than controls.
Given that these experiments were done in rats, are these results relevant for humans? “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 Dr. Robert S. Thompson, the lead author of the study. “A next set of studies will be looking exactly at that question – can prebiotics help humans to protect and restore their gut microflora and recover normal sleep patterns after a traumatic event?”
In the mean time, should we start including prebiotics in our diets to help cope with stress? “So far no adverse effects from prebiotics have been reported,” said Dr. Mika, “and they are found widely in many plants, even present in breast milk, and are already commercially available.” Healthy gut bacteria and restful sleep could be your benefits.
Funding: The work was funded by the Mead Johnson Nutrition.
Source: Melissa Cochrane – Frontiers
Image Source: NeuroscienceNews.com image is credited to Bradley Slade.
Original Research: Full open access research for “Dietary Prebiotics and Bioactive Milk Fractions Improve NREM Sleep, Enhance REM Sleep Rebound and Attenuate the Stress-Induced Decrease in Diurnal Temperature and Gut Microbial Alpha Diversity” by Robert S. Thompson, Rachel Roller, Agnieszka Mika, Benjamin N. Greenwood, Rob Knight, Maciej Chichlowski, Brian M. Berg and Monika Fleshner in Frontiers in Behavioral Neurosceince. Published online January 11 2017 doi:11.3389/fnbeh.2016.00240
Dietary Prebiotics and Bioactive Milk Fractions Improve NREM Sleep, Enhance REM Sleep Rebound and Attenuate the Stress-Induced Decrease in Diurnal Temperature and Gut Microbial Alpha Diversity
Severe, repeated or chronic stress produces negative health outcomes including disruptions of the sleep/wake cycle and gut microbial dysbiosis. Diets rich in prebiotics and glycoproteins impact the gut microbiota and may increase gut microbial species that reduce the impact of stress. This experiment tested the hypothesis that consumption of dietary prebiotics, lactoferrin (Lf) and milk fat globule membrane (MFGM) will reduce the negative physiological impacts of stress. Male F344 rats, postnatal day (PND) 24, received a diet with prebiotics, Lf and MFGM (test) or a calorically matched control diet. Fecal samples were collected on PND 35/70/91 for 16S rRNA sequencing to examine microbial composition and, in a subset of rats; Lactobacillus rhamnosus was measured using selective culture. On PND 59, biotelemetry devices were implanted to record sleep/wake electroencephalographic (EEG). Rats were exposed to an acute stressor (110, 1.5 mA, tail shocks) on PND 87 and recordings continued until PND 94. Test diet, compared to control diet, increased fecal Lactobacillus rhamnosus colony forming units (CFU), facilitated non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep consolidation (PND 71/72) and enhanced rapid eye movement (REM) sleep rebound after stressor exposure (PND 87). Rats fed control diet had stress-induced reductions in alpha diversity and diurnal amplitude of temperature, which were attenuated by the test diet (PND 91). Stepwise multiple regression analysis revealed a significant linear relationship between early-life Deferribacteres (PND 35) and longer NREM sleep episodes (PND 71/72). A diet containing prebiotics, Lf and MFGM enhanced sleep quality, which was related to changes in gut bacteria and modulated the impact of stress on sleep, diurnal rhythms and the gut microbiota.
“Dietary Prebiotics and Bioactive Milk Fractions Improve NREM Sleep, Enhance REM Sleep Rebound and Attenuate the Stress-Induced Decrease in Diurnal Temperature and Gut Microbial Alpha Diversity” by Robert S. Thompson, Rachel Roller, Agnieszka Mika, Benjamin N. Greenwood, Rob Knight, Maciej Chichlowski, Brian M. Berg and Monika Fleshner in Frontiers in Behavioral Neurosceince. Published online January 11 2017 doi:11.3389/fnbeh.2016.00240