Psychobiotics against depression

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What we eat is what we are made of.
It is not just a saying. Carbohydrates, fats and proteins are made of the very same elements our body is made of, that’s why we need these nutrients.

How do our genes interact with these nutrients? This is what nutrigenomic studies. And since we all have a different body, the effort is to understand general rules but also personalized diets for each one of us.

But scientists have gone even further. Not only what we eat has an effect on our body, but also our mind. Recent researches tell us that there are probiotics (like the ones we find in fermented milk and yogurt) with antidepressant and anxiolitic activity. The syptoms of depression and chronic fatigue syndrome were indeed alleviated. They called them psychobiotics.

Wait a moment: are they saying that the therapy for depression is 125 ml of yogurt every day?
Probably, even though not immediately and not without psychotherapy.
But scientists observed that some probiotics (e.g. Bifidobacterium infantis) produce and deliver neuroactive substances active in the connection brain-gut, such as serotonin and aminobutyric acid.

This connection is evident even in fetuses: the gut flora of the baby has an important influence in the development of the brain. And its gut flora is directly influenced by the vaginal flora of the mother.

These studies confirm we need more attention about the use of antibiotics: high dosage and long use destroy the microorganisms in our digestive tract, with consequences on our brain and mind yet to be assessed.

The results of the latest researches were presented at the 47th meeting of Italian Psychiatric Society in Taormina by John. F. Cryan, neuroscientist at University College Cork (Ireland).

Dinan, T.G., Stanton, C., Cryan, J.F. (2013). Psychobiotics: a novel class of psychotropic. Biol Psychiatry, 74:720-726