Probiotic found in yoghurt may help reverse depression symptoms


A probiotic found in yoghurt may help reverse depression symptoms, researchers claim. Screen Shot 2017-03-10 at 11.52.47 AM Academics at the University of Virginia School of Medicine have reversed "depressive-like behaviour" or "despair behaviour" in mice by feeding them Lactobacillus, a probiotic bacteria found in live-cultures yoghurt. From doing so, they have found a precise mechanism for how the bacteria affect mood, providing a direct connection between the health of the gut microbiome and mental health. Based on their findings, the researchers are hopeful that their revelation will hold true in humans and they are planning to check their findings in patients with depression. "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 microbiome," explained lead researcher Dr Alban Gaultier. "It would be magical just to change your diet, to change the bacteria you take, and fix your health - and your mood." Depression is one of the most common mental health conditions in the United States, with up to seven per cent of people experiencing a major depressive episode. Dr Gaultier added that he believes the gut bacteria has a role in mood, as after looking at the composition of the gut microbiome before and after mice were subjected to stress, his team found that the big alteration was the loss of Lactobacillus. With this came the onset of depression symptoms, but feeding the mice the probiotic with their food returned them to almost normal. "A single strain of Lactobacillus is able to influence mood,” Dr Gaultier observed. The researchers also found that the amount of Lactobacillus in the gut affects the level of a metabolite in the blood called kynurenine, which has been linked to trigger depression. When Lactobacillus was weakened in the gut, the levels of kynurenine went up - and depression symptoms set in, it was reported. The findings have been published online by the journal Scientific Reports. © Cover Media

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