April showers bring May flowers, but before then we are in the dumps. Truly, the gloomy, rainy weather that comes with the start of spring can have an effect on our moods. But according to a recent study, one way to curb feelings of depression or overall mood disorders may be to take in more probiotics.
Researchers at University of Virginia School of Medicine found that offering mice the probiotic Lactobacillus, also found in yogurt, led to a reversal of depression symptoms. When conducting the study, scientists learned that decreased levels of Lactobacillus in the gut (often caused by stress) led to increased levels of the metabolite kynurenine, which in turn caused “depressive-like behavior” in the mice. After feeding those same mice a probiotic, the symptoms dissipated.
The scientists believe this study could indicate a direct link between gut health and mental health.
They plan to continue this research in humans in the future. “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 Alban Gaultier, PhD. “It would be magical just to change your diet, to change the bacteria you take, and fix your health—and your mood.”
Until then, Gaultier recommends that patients with depression continue taking their meds as usual.
But adding a little yogurt into your diet couldn’t hurt—at least until those May flowers start to sprout.
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