How probiotics can ease stress and anxiety

Boost your mood and gut at the same time

Merry Christmas. I hope you're enjoying some time relaxing with the family today -- but if you're like too many people, the holidays also bring plenty of stress.

So here's my Christmas present to you: A safe, easy and natural way to fight stress, depression, anxiety, in-laws and other mood disorders -- even depression -- and improve your gut health at the same time.

They're being called "psychobiotics," which sounds like a catchy nickname created by a marketing department somewhere.

In reality, they're just certain types of probiotics -- friendly bacteria that live in your gut, but in this case they do more than just help improve digestion and fight infection.

They can help boost your mood -- and one new review of the research finds that taking them for just 30 days can ease stress and slash your levels of cortisol, the hormone released in response to stress (and in-laws).

Another study finds mood improvements in as little as three weeks, and other studies in the review show how psychobiotics can ease everything from anxiety to chronic fatigue syndrome.

The researchers are calling for more studies on this. Fine; let them research it to their belly's content.

But don't waste your own time waiting for the results, because I can tell you right now that you almost certainly need a probiotic. Most people do, because the modern diet and meds such as antibiotics -- including antibiotics hidden in food -- have left our guts dangerously unbalanced.

And that's true even if you're not yet showing any warning signs -- physical or mental.

So be proactive about probiotics.

The best natural sources include raw milk, cheese and yogurt (real yogurt, not that "fruit at the bottom" garbage).

You can also take supplements. And if you're interested in a psychobiotic, the early word is that Lactobacillus helveticus R0052 and B longum can fight stress and L rhamnosus will ease anxiety.

For in-laws, I recommend turning out the lights and pretending you're not home.