18 March 2017
Yoghurt is good for digestion, clear skin and glossy hair. But a new study has found yoghurt could also treat depression.
Researchers at the University Of Virginia School Of Medicine have found yoghurt’s probiotic bacteria, lactobacillus, in the gut affects the level of a metabolite in the blood called kynurenine, which has been shown to drive depression.
Experiments on mice showed playing with this ‘good bacteria’ alone was strong enough to ease blood pressure, stress and depression.
When Lactobacillus was diminished in the gut, the levels of kynurenine went up – and depression symptoms set in.
Lead researcher Dr. Alban Gaultier of the UVA Department of Neuroscience and its Center for Brain Immunology and Glia, noted: “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.
“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 world.”
The role of the gut microbiome – the bacteria that live inside us – has been of tremendous interest to researchers studying depression and other health conditions, both mental and physical.
Gaultier set out to see if he could find a concrete link between depression and gut health.
“When you’re stressed, you increase your chance of being depressed, and that’s been known for a long, long time.
“So the question that we wanted to ask is, ‘does the microbiome participate in depression?’ The answer appears to be yes. A single strain of Lactobacillus is able to influence mood,” Gaultier said.
The researchers warned that yogurt should not yet be seen as a treatment alone.