Dysbiosis of the gut microbiota has been associated with different illnesses and emotional disorders such as stress. Traditional fermented foods that are rich in probiotics suggest modulation of dysbiosis, which protects against stress-induced disorders. The academic stress was evaluated in medical students using the SISCO Inventory of Academic Stress before and after ingestion of an aguamiel-based beverage fermented with Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus paracasei and Lactobacillus brevis (n = 27) and a control group (n = 18). In addition, microbial phyla in feces were quantified by qPCR. The results showed that the consumption of 100 mL of a beverage fermented with lactic acid bacteria (3 × 108 cfu/mL) for 8 weeks significantly reduced academic stress (p = 0.001), while the control group (placebo intervention) had no significant changes in the perception of academic stress (p = 0.607). Significant change (p = 0.001) was shown in the scores for environmental demands, and physical and psychological factors. Consumption of the fermented beverage significantly increased the phyla Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes but not Gammaproteobacteria. No significant changes were found in the control group, except for a slight increase in the phylum Firmicutes. The intake of this fermented beverage suggest a modulation of gut microbiota and possible reduction in stress-related symptoms in university students, without changing their lifestyle or diet.
Keywords: academic stress; aguamiel; dysbiosis; gut microbiota; lactic acid bacteria; medical students.