In our country depression is the most prevalent mental health condition. 80% of people do not receive treatment, and those that do face major side effects with medications. Could a change in diet alleviate symptoms for millions of sufferers? Scientists are optimistic it can happen with probiotics.
Scientists at the University of Virginia School of Medicine found a direct link between mental health and gut microbiome when they fed mice Lactobacillus probiotic bacteria found in yogurt resulting in a reversal of depression symptoms.
Scientists found when mice were stressed their gut microbiome changed and they lost Lactobacillus bacteria which then was followed by depression symptoms. Feeding mice Lactobacillus bacteria with their food reversed their depression symptoms.
Lactobacillus bacteria in the gut also impacted the level of a metabolite called kynurenine in the blood, which other studies have shown impact depression.
The team of scientists plan to apply their findings on humans to study how the microbiome and probiotics could alter depression. People with depression should not stop taking medications without consulting their physicians, but including yogurt daily could be beneficial.
Yogurt begins with Lactobacillus cultures, but some products are heat treated which kills the good bacteria. The National Yogurt Association has a Active Cultures Seal on products that contain at least 100 million live and active cultures per gram. Look for the seal to ensure sufficient quantities of probiotics are in the yogurt you are eating.