Your Gut Has More Sway On Your Mental Health Than You Think, Study Says

mbg Contributor By Elizabeth Gerson
mbg Contributor
Elizabeth Gerson is a former mindbodygreen intern and a student at Stanford University studying Psychology and Communication with a specialization in Health & Development.
Your Gut Has More Sway On Your Mental Health Than You Think, Study Says

Image by Javier Díez / Stocksy

If you're sick of hearing about the importance of the microbiome, sorry to burst your bubble: Scientists just made yet another discovery linking our gut to our overall health. The latest connection? Gut bacteria and depression, according to the latest research.

A study published in Nature Microbiology examined the microbiomes of about 1,000 people who had been clinically diagnosed with depression. They found reduced levels of two specific types of bacteria all across the board (when compared to healthy controls). 

Even those who were on antidepressants still had low levels of these important bacteria, which only strengthens the connection between the strains and our brains. What's more, past studies that have linked gut health to mental health primarily tested on animals. This is the first time we've seen a clear link in humans, making the findings a whole lot more impactful.

Jeroen Raes, study author, told mbg, "This paves the way for treatments in depression. One option is novel, next-generation probiotics. I really think there is a future in this: using cocktails of human-derived bacteria as treatment—bugs as drugs, as they say."

If there's one thing you take away from this article, it should be that proper gut health is really, really important, not only for the almost 7 million U.S. adults who have depression but also for anyone trying to optimize their health. Poor gut health can make you gain weight or deplete your energy levels, for example. 

While this is the largest study to link gut bacteria with depression in humans, the researchers stress that these results are correlational. Causality still needs to be proven. They plan on conducting future studies by isolating and culturing specific bacteria in order to really see their effects on humans play out. 

If you've been feeling a bit off lately, it may be worth a shot to get your microbiome tested. Those little bacteria have a big impact, and understanding them may just be the next step to living your happiest, healthiest life. 

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