Regular consumption of probiotics – live bacteria and yeasts – which are famous for being good for the gut, may also alleviate symptoms of depression, according to a new study.
The findings showed that double the number of adults having irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and having depression exhibited improvement from depression when they took a specific probiotic than the number of adults with IBS who took a placebo.
IBS affects the large intestine and leads to modified bowel habits like diarrhoea and constipation and abdominal pain. It also causes modified bowel habits like diarrhoea and constipation. They are also often suffering from chronic anxiety or depression.
“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,” said Premysl Bercik, Associate Professor at McMaster University in Canada.
Further, the research revealed that the microbiota environment in the intestines is in direct contact with the brain, offering evidence that behaviour too is affected by bacteria.
The research team studied 44 adults with IBS and mild to moderate anxiety or depression and the study was published in the journal Gastroenterology.
They were monitored for 10 weeks, as half of the patients took a daily dose of the probiotic Bifidobacterium longum NCC3001, while the others ingested a placebo.
After six weeks, 14 of 22, or 64% of the patients taking the probiotic had lower depression levels, compared to seven of 22 (or 32%) of the patients who had been administered only a placebo.
Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) revealed that the improvement in depression scores was linked with with changes in multiple brain areas involved in mood control, the researchers observed.