Start Your Day With Yogurt for a Mood Boost

Getting probiotics first thing in the morning may enhance your sense of well-being.

Serving of Yogurt with Whole Fresh Blueberries and Oatmeal on Old Rustic Wooden Table. Closeup Detail.

Medically reviewed in February 2022

Updated on March 4, 2022

Eating a good breakfast doesn't just get your body ready to face the day. It may boost your mental well-being, too. Especially if you choose yogurt.

Evidence suggests that when you feed your gut fermented foods that contain Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium—which are among the many types of healthy bacteria found in some yogurts—your mood may improve.

Feed your belly for a healthy brain
How might healthy flora in your belly affect your mood?

Scientists are still working to understand how fermented foods and supplements with probiotics (beneficial bacteria) affect mental health. But it is thought that these good bacteria produce neurochemicals—feel-good chemicals like serotonin and dopamine—in the gut. And these chemicals, in turn, may get taken up into the bloodstream and circulated throughout the body, including the brain.

Another way that healthy gut bacteria may protect your brain? They protect the lining of the intestine, which in turn can prevent immune-triggering toxins from leaching across the gut lining into the bloodstream. That can reduce the kind of whole-body inflammation that often leads to damage across a variety of organ systems.

More reasons to love fermented foods
If you don’t love yogurt—or if you’re looking to boost your intake of probiotics throughout the day—other delicious fermented foods that are packed with healthy bacteria include kefir, kombucha, kimchi, or sauerkraut (the refrigerated kind). And they don’t only offer a brain boost.

Fermented foods containing live bacteria may offer full-body benefits, too, including these:

  • Infection fighting: Probiotics and fermented foods may support the immune system.
  • Heart protection: Live bacteria in yogurt products can improve blood cholesterol, which can in turn protect the heart.
  • Diarrhea relief: Fermented milk products containing Lactobacillus acidophilus may help prevent diarrhea in people taking antibiotics.

So if you’re looking to break from the same-old ham and eggs—and boost your mood in the process—try a bowl of yogurt with live active cultures. Bonus points if you top yours with brain-friendly blueberries.

Article sources open article sources

Marco ML, Sanders ME, Gänzle M. et al. The International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP) consensus statement on fermented foods. Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol 18, 196–208 (2021).
Janelle Weaver. Fermented-food diet increases microbiome diversity, decreases inflammatory proteins, study finds. Stanford Medicine. July 12, 2021.
Maldonado Galdeano C, Cazorla SI, Lemme Dumit JM, Vélez E, Perdigón G. Beneficial Effects of Probiotic Consumption on the Immune System. Ann Nutr Metab. 2019;74(2):115-124.
Pourrajab B, Fatahi S, Dehnad A, Kord Varkaneh H, Shidfar F. The impact of probiotic yogurt consumption on lipid profiles in subjects with mild to moderate hypercholesterolemia: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2020;30(1):11-22.
C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. lactobacillus acidophilus. Revised June 9, 2017.
Wallace CJK, Milev R. The effects of probiotics on depressive symptoms in humans: a systematic review [published correction appears in Ann Gen Psychiatry. 2017 Mar 7;16:18]. Ann Gen Psychiatry. 2017;16:14. Published 2017 Feb 20.

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