Credit: © nungning20 / Fotolia

Credit: © nungning20 / Fotolia

Could probiotics be the answer to fighting depression symptoms?

In February, we learned that diet plays a major role in treating depression. Could probiotics be the answer to fighting depression symptoms? 

Probiotics are microorganisms, often called ‘good bacteria.’ They are found in various fresh and fermented foods and you can also take as supplements.

Let’s find out.

Until recently, mental health was almost too taboo to talk about. Thankfully, it is starting to be recognized as a very important aspect of overall health, and people are starting to open up about depression and anxiety.

Suicide is still a major problem – not just in the U.S. – but worldwide.

The World Health Organization estimates that over 800,000 people die from suicide every year, which is about one person every 40 seconds.

Probiotics may help relieve symptoms of depression, and may help relieve gastrointestinal upset, according to new research from McMaster University.

In the study, the researchers found that twice as many adults with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) showed improvements from depression symptoms when they took a specific probiotic.

The study provides further evidence that gut bacteria communicates directly with the brain, explained senior author Dr. Premysl Bercik, an associate professor of medicine at McMaster and a gastroenterologist for Hamilton Health Sciences.

This study shows that consumption of a specific probiotic can improve both gut symptoms and psychological issues in IBS. This opens new avenues not only for the treatment of patients with functional bowel disorders but also for patients with primary psychiatric diseases,” he said.

At the six-week mark in the study, 64 percent of the patients taking probiotics had decreased depression scores.

Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) showed changes in multiple areas of the brain responsible for mood control.

This is the result of a decade long journey — from identifying the probiotic, testing it in preclinical models and investigating the pathways through which the signals from the gut reach the brain,” said Bercik.

The results of this pilot study are very promising but they have to be confirmed in a future, larger scale trial,” said Dr. Maria Pinto Sanchez, the first author and a McMaster clinical research fellow.

The study was published in the journal Gastroenterology.

If you wish to take probiotics, we recommend  Natren Probiotics as a reputable source.

Note: None of the information in our website is intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease. The content on our website is for educational purposes only.

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1. “First Study Shows Tie between Probiotic and Improved Symptoms of Depression.” McMaster University. McMaster University, n.d. Web. 27 May 2017.
2. “Probiotic Bifidobacterium Longum NCC3001 Reduces Depression Scores and Alters Brain Activity: A Pilot Study in Patients With Irritable Bowel Syndrome.” Gastroenterology. Gastroenterology, n.d. Web. 26 May 2017.

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