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Poor gut health can promote depression, research finds

A study, published in the Nature Microbiology, suggests a connection between gut and brain health. The researchers of the study analyzed the fecal microbiome data of more than 1,000 people. All of them were enrolled in the Flemish Gut Flora Project. This data was pooled with data on depression diagnoses for exploring the link between gut bacteria, depression and quality of life. The research reveals that people suffering from depression exhibited low levels of gut bacteria.

Mental health problems have been a topic of great attention for many years. It is a majorly growing health concern and scientists have been trying to uncover it causes since years. This new study out of Belgium adds that depression could well be a symptom of poor gut health.

The study enumerates that depression comes with persistently low levels of two gut bacteria in particular, Dialister and Coprococcus. This fact holds true even among those who took antidepressants. The results were validated via an autonomous cohort of more than 1,000 people who took part in the Dutch LifeLines DEEP and clinically depressed patients. The findings of the study were significant as they suggest a probiotic-based treatment for depression.

This treatment could be effective and safe as compared to the use of modern antidepressants which brings greater side effects. Many of the most widely used antidepressants today come with black box warnings. This is because they elevate the risks of suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

Some of the common side effects of antidepressants include insomnia, constipation, nausea, blurred vision, weight gain, increased appetite, and sexual problems. On the other hand, probiotics are relatively safe for most people. Moreover, they offer other benefits for your health as well. Thus, they can serve as a potentially great solution for a big problem like depression facing the world today.

Discoveries related to the brain-gut axis can lead to promising treatments

Recent research about the brain-gut axis may lead to some safe, effective, and new treatments for mental health problems.

The intestine actually has a nervous system of its own. It generates similar neurotransmitters to those created by the brain, for example, serotonin, acetylcholine, and melatonin. Moreover, it’s also believed that the brain and gut communicate with one another. You may have noticed that feeling anxious or depressed causes an upset stomach, poor gastrointestinal conditions lead to depression or anxiety, etc. Hence, restoring the balance of the gut microbiome, using probiotics, could help address these issues.

In addition, brain imaging also shows that people who take probiotics experience changes in the parts of their brain. In particular, the part of the brain involved in mood is affected. Furthermore, researchers hope to extend their work and evaluate whether probiotics can help address issues like bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and autism. Note that gut bacteria has also been associated with conditions like obesity, colon cancer, and type 2 diabetes as well.

Depression and anxiety are complex cognitive conditions that are growing very common among people. There are various factors influencing such mental health issues like,

  • Lack of exercise
  • Nutrient deficiencies
  • Stress
  • Thyroid problems
  • Allergies

Half of the people suffering from the situation use antidepressants but are deprived of the desired results. Thus, we require a holistic approach that addresses the many factors involved in its development. Probiotics, proper nutrition, and a clean diet can be helpful in improving people’s mood and overall health with minimum or no side effects.

Michelle Kwan

Michelle Kwan has studied bio-medical sciences and loves to contribute her research into the field of health through her writing. Her expertise includes product reviews and health news reporting but she enjoys writing research-based news, the most. Twitter- @MichelleKwan19

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