Probiotics Are Linked to Reduced Symptoms of Depression

Our guts are intricately connected to our brains. This explains why we get butterflies in our stomachs when we’re worried aboutan upcoming public speaking event, or why we feel digestive discomfort when work is stressing us out.

According to Harvard Health Publications, thegut-brain connection worksboth ways. The brain can have a direct effect on the gut and the gut can have a direct effect on the brain, meaning that a person’s digestive issues can be either the cause or the product of their anxiety, stress, ordepression.

Probiotics are just one way to help support a healthy gut, and now there’s new research saying that these beneficial, live bacteria are linked to reduced symptoms of depression. In a McMaster University study, participants withirritable bowel syndrome (IBS)who took a specific probiotic were twice as likely to experienceimprovements in their depression symptoms thanthose who weren’t taking probiotics.

The study involved monitoring 44 adults with IBS and mild anxiety for aperiod of 10 weeks. 22 participants were given the probiotic Bifidobacterium longum NCC3001while the remaining22 participants were given a placebo. After just six weeks, 14 of the participants taking the probiotic (64 percent) showeddecreased depression scores compared toonly 7 of the participants taking the placebo (32 percent).

The improvements in depression scores were a result of changes in several regions of the brain, which the researchers observed from brain scans that were taken. This is the first study that has found a link between probiotics and and improvements in depression among humans, but alarger-scale trial is planned for the future to confirm it.

A related study that was recently conducted by researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine found that they could reverse symptoms of depression in mice by feeding them a specific probiotic called Lactobacillus, which is found in some varieties of yogurt. The researchers examined the gut microbiomes of the mice both before and after they were subjected to stress so they could identify how the gut might impactdepression symptoms.

Lactobacillus was shown to decrease when the mice were subjected to stress. Decreased levels of Lactobacillus led to increased levels of kynurenine in the blood and the onset of depression symptoms. But when the mice were fedLactobacillus with their food, their mood states were restored almost completely back to normal.

The researchers were careful to note that mice probably don’t experience depression the way humans doand instead described the mice asexhibiting”depressive-like behavior” or “despair behaivor.” The next step is to study the effects ofLactobacillus on people.

Probiotics may notoffer a complete solution to battling depression at this point in time, but understanding their role in the gut-brain connection could helpresearchers develop more natural and effective forms oftreatment as an aid or alternative to medication. The findings so far are promising, but there’s a lot more that needs to be understood.

Whether you’re dealing with depression symptoms or not, incorporating probiotic-rich foods into your diet could be a great way to boost your overall health.Check out these10 vegan sources of probiotics to help balance the bacteria in yourgut and maybeeven lend a hand to soothing youremotional state, too.

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52 comments

William C
William Cabout a month ago

Thanks.

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W. C
W. Cabout a month ago

Thank you.

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heather g
heather g1 months ago

I have probiotics but forget about taking them daily....

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Margie F
Margie FOURIE1 months ago

I can only go by happens to me and I think probiotics (kombucha) work.

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Susan B
Susan B2 months ago

Pretty interesting.

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Jetana A
Jetana A2 months ago

Interesting--thanks!

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S J
S J2 months ago

Thank you for sharing

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Janis K
Janis K2 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Janis K
Janis K2 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Carl R
Carl R2 months ago

Thanks!!!

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