OBJECTIVE: The impact on mood and memory of consuming a probiotic containing milk drink, or a placebo, was examined as, previously, a poor mood has been found to correlate with the frequency of constipation. DESIGN: A double-blind placebo-controlled trial with random allocation of subjects. SETTING: Subjects went about their normal life in the community apart from three visits to the laboratory. SUBJECTS: One hundred and thirty-two healthy members of general population, mean age 61.8 years, volunteered in response to local media coverage. One hundred and twenty-four finished the trial. INTERVENTION: For a 3-week period, either a probiotic containing milk drink, or a placebo, were consumed daily. Mood and cognition were measured at baseline, and after 10 and 20 days of consumption. RESULTS: At baseline those who reported themselves to be less frequently constipated were more clearheaded, confident and elated. Although the taking of the probiotic did not generally change the mood, this appeared to be a reflection of the generally good mood in this sample. When those in the bottom third of the depressed/elated dimension at baseline were considered, they selectively responded by reporting themselves as happy rather than depressed after taking the probiotic. The intervention did not, however, influence the reported frequency of defaecation, probably a reflection of the initially low incidence of constipation. An unexpected and possibly chance finding was that the consumption of probiotics resulted in a slightly-poorer performance on two measures of memory. CONCLUSIONS: The consumption of a probiotic-containing yoghurt improved the mood of those whose mood was initially poor. This improvement in mood was not, however, associated with an increased frequency of defaecation.
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