May 11, 2021
Eating yogurt that contains probiotics may help you feel less stressed and depressed, Study Finds reports.
Researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine recently studied mice who were fed a “friendly,” probiotic bacteria found in live-culture yogurts called Lactobacillus. The team found that the rodents’ depressive symptoms were largely reversed by consuming the yogurt.
Scientists have long known that stress plays a large role in our moods. However, the role of our gut microbiome—which contains thousands of bacterial organisms—in either sustaining or blocking such feelings has not been explored extensively
With 7% of Americans suffering from depression at any given time, the study’s implications are enormous.
For their experiment, the researchers examined the composition of the mice’s microbiomes before and after being subjected to stress—and found that the level of Lactobacillus in their gastrointestinal systems decreased markedly after the mice had experienced stress. Concomitant depression also resulted.
According to the report by Study Finds, as soon as the mice were fed probiotic yogurt, their mood reverted back to a more stable state.
“A single strain of Lactobacillus is able to influence mood,” says lead researcher Dr. Alban Gaultier, a neuroscientist, in a university release.
They verified the phenomenon they had observed by examining how much kynurenine— a chemical that drives depression— had increased while the Lactobacillus had diminished.
“This is the most consistent change we’ve seen across different experiments and different settings we call microbiome profiles,” notes Ioana Marin, a research student.
While the study still must be conducted on humans to determine whether the same results can be achieved, its breakthrough findings show promise. One potential issue with the research is the fact that it’s much harder to measure depression in mice than it is in humans.
Gaultier plans to first examine the effects of Lactobacillus on those with multiple sclerosis—sufferers also commonly experience 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,” says Gaultier. “It would be magical just to change your diet, to change the bacteria you take, and fix your health—and your mood.”
In the meantime, no clinically depressed individuals should solely eat yogurt in lieu of taking medication, the researchers warn.
The researchers published their findings in the journal Scientific Reports.
Research contact: @StudyFinds