Probiotic-rich foods may reduce depression symptoms

The microbiome is one of the most complex and influential systems in the human body. We know food can affect our mood, but science has examined a new link between mental health and the gut.

They start out as a single cell, so it makes sense that there would be a permanent link between the gut and the brain. This is what’s known as the gut-brain axis, and new research has examined the link between a healthy microbiome and depression symptoms.

A new paper published in the Scientific Reports journal examined the impact of probiotics and prebiotics, specifically galactooligosaccharides (GOS), and how they could help treat psychiatric conditions. Though, the authors note, their findings warrant further investigation.

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“This new research marks a significant step forward in that we were able to show that we can use a simple and safe food supplement such as prebiotics to improve both the abundance of beneficial gut bacteria in the gut and to improve mental health and well-being in young women,” Dr. Kathrin Cohen Kadosh, senior author of the study, told Medical News Today.

GOS is an indigestible carbohydrate. This means when they reach the gut intact, they feed the microbiota that live there. They’re found naturally in diary products, beans, and certain root vegetables. It’s possible that poor diet in adolescence and young adulthood could affect anxiety due to its influence on gut health.

“The GOS dietary supplement in our study led to an increase in beneficial gut bacteria, which in turn affected behavior and well-being,” said Dr. Cohen Kadosh.

“Based on this, it is plausible to suggest that a diet rich in GOS could have similar effects outside the lab; we already know that this is the case in animals.”

Probiotic-rich foods are things like yoghurt, kefir, miso, tempeh, buttermilk, sauerkraut and other fermented vegetables into your diet.

Prebiotic-rich foods include bananas, soybeans, Jerusalem artichokes, whole oats, wheat, barley, garlic, flaxseeds, legumes, tomatoes and green vegetables.

“Keeping the digestive system healthy is a foundation stone to general health and wellbeing. Having poor digestion will affect the health and functioning of every system in the body, the brain, nervous system, hormonal balance, reproductive system and even the liver’s ability to properly detoxify,” nutritionist Lisa Guy previously told Body+Soul.