The living colonies of bacteria in your gut do a whole lot of good for your body. These bacteria prevent various diseases, aid in digestion, and produce vitamins that your body needs.
The bacteria in your gut might play a role in your mental health
The study, published in the scientific journal Nature, details how two bacterial groups, Coprococcus and Dialister, are linked to depression. The researchers found that people who had depression had particularly low levels of those types of bacteria.
The researchers also found that certain types of bacteria in the gut can interact with the nervous system. According to them, certain types of bacteria can synthesize serotonin and dopamine. These chemicals are responsible for maintaining a person’s mental health.
It’s possible that people who are suffering from depression lack these types of bacteria in their gut. This means that gut bacteria might play a bigger role in a person’s overall health.
The researchers are already planning further study on the subject
The study’s lead author, Jeroen Raes, a professor at the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium and Flemish Institute of Biotechnology, said that this is “the first time this kind of work has been done in such a large scale in humans. Most previous work has been done in animal models.”
“We don’t yet know whether these neuroactive compounds produced in the gut can reach the brain. Can they traverse the blood-brain-barrier? Or perhaps they act directly on the vagus nerve in the intestines, which sends signals directly to the brain,” he added.
He continued, “Our goal would be to isolate these specific bacteria and culture them in animal models to see if they elicit or change behavioral traits. If this is proven then they next step would be to set up human trials to see if procuring these bacteria can improve symptoms in people with depression.
Their current research still has some limitations since gut bacteria varies depending on the region. This means that in places like Asia and Africa, there could be different findings.
The researchers added that their findings don’t necessarily mean that a healthy gut can cure depression. Regardless, it’s still important for people to prioritize their gut health.
Your gut health is extremely important
More and more scientists are looking into the bacteria present in our stomachs. They hope to find more connections between the gut and other bodily functions.
Previous research has found links between diseases such as multiple sclerosis and childhood leukemia to the microbiome. This means that we can potentially prevent these illnesses by focusing research on gut bacteria.
In fact, people these days are undergoing fecal transplants, where bacteria from the gut is transplanted to another person. It might sound gross, but the process can save lives, particularly among people who lack important types of healthy bacteria in their gut.
But for the rest of us, eating foods rich in fiber and fermented foods can help give a boost to our gut health. Foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, and pickles can do wonders in improving our microbiomes.