Probiotics May One Day Be Used To Treat Depression

What you eat can have a major impact on how you feel emotionally.

A diet rich in probiotics — which support the growth of “healthy” bacteria in the gut — is known to boost digestive health and can even improve a person’s immune system. But now an increasingly robust body of evidence suggests that gut bacteria may exert a significant effect on brain function and mental health.

Probiotics are live bacteria and yeast that can be found in your body, as well as in supplements and foods fermented with live active cultures such as some yogurts, kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi, and kefir. These “good” bacteria are known to promote digestive and immune health, and researchers are discovering that they may support mental health as well.

Once considered a fringe idea, a growing number of scientists have become interested in probiotics and prebiotics as potential treatments for anxiety, depression and other mental health problems. And in a small, new study at Leiden University, researchers found additional support for the idea: they report that among 40 healthy subjects, those who underwent four weeks of probiotic treatment showed a decrease in negative thoughts and feelings.

For the study, the researchers administered multistrain probiotics — meaning that they contained different types of bacteria — to 20 healthy participants every day for four weeks. The other 20 participants received a placebo. At the outset of the study and then again after the month had gone by, the participants filled out a questionnaire assessing sensitivity to depression.

Participants who took the probiotics were significantly less reactive to sad moods. Improving the balance of healthy bacteria in the gut seemed to have a protective effect against rumination, the type of —> Read More