Could yogurt treat depression? ‘Good bacteria’ boosts mood by changing brain activity


Yogurt could help combat depression as a new study reveals so-called ‘good bacteria’ ease symptoms of the mental health disorder.

Some 64 per cent of adults with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and symptoms of depression saw their mental health improve within just six weeks of taking a daily ‘good bacteria’, or probiotic, supplement, the study revealed.

This is compared to just 32 per cent of patients noting an improvement after taking a placebo.

MRI scanning revealed probiotic-receiving patients experienced changes in the areas of their brains associated with mood.

Probiotics, commonly found in yogurt, ease symptoms of depression in 64% of sufferers

Researchers from McMaster University analysed 44 adults with IBS and mild-to-moderate anxiety or depression over 10 weeks.

Half of participants were given a daily dose of a probiotic, known as Bifidobacterium longum NCC3001, while the others took a placebo.

Probiotics are commonly found in yogurts, as well as fermented foods, such as sauerkraut.

After six weeks, 64 per cent of the study’s participants taking the probiotic had a reduced depression score by at least two points versus 32 per cent of those receiving a placebo.

The study also found a reduction in depression scores at 10 weeks and an overall improvement to quality of life among the probiotic group.

In addition, functional magnetic resonance imaging, which uses MRI scanning to measure brain activity, showed that depression improvements were associated with changes to the areas of our brain that regulate mood.

The findings provide further evidence of the communication between our gut’s bacterial make-up and our brain, according to study author Dr. Premysl Bercik.

He said: ‘This study shows that consumption of a specific probiotic can improve both gut symptoms and psychological issues in IBS.

‘This opens new avenues not only for the treatment of patients with functional bowel disorders but also for patients with primary psychiatric diseases.’

Study author Dr. Maria Pinto Sanchez added: ‘The results of this pilot study are very promising but they have to be confirmed in a future, larger scale trial.’

The results were published in the journal Gastroenterology.

This comes after researchers from the University of Virginia School of Medicine revealed probiotics are good for us due to the communication between the bacteria and us as hosts.

Bacteria secrete a carbohydrate that instructs the immune system to release certain beneficial chemicals, they found.

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