Eating yogurt which contains probiotic bacteria may help reverse symptoms of depression, according to a new study which shows that gut microbes can affect mental health.
Researchers from the University of Virginia in the US, reversed depression symptoms in mice by feeding them a probiotic bacteria Lactobacillus found in yogurt.
They also discovered a specific mechanism for how the bacteria affects mood, providing a direct link between the health of the gut micro-biome and mental health.
“The big hope for this kind of research is that we won’t need to bother with complex drugs and side effects when we can just play with the micro-biome,” said Alban Gaultier of University of Virginia.
The researchers were able to induce depression symptoms in mice and then alleviate the symptoms simply by feeding them Lactobacillus.
Looking at the composition of the gut micro-biome before and after mice were subjected to stress, it was found that the major change was the loss of Lactobacillus.
With the loss of Lactobacillus came the onset of depression symptoms, researchers said.
Feeding the mice Lactobacillus with their food returned them to almost normal.
“A single strain of Lactobacillus, is able to influence mood,” Gaultier said.
The amount of Lactobacillus in the gut affects the level of a metabolite in the blood called kynurenine, which has been shown to drive depression, researchers said.
When Lactobacillus was diminished in the gut, the levels of kynurenine went up and depression symptoms set in.
“It would be magical just to change your diet, to change the bacteria you take, and fix your health and your mood,” Gaultier said.
Source: journal Scientific