Based on several new studies that have started to emerge, I often recommend a probiotic to my patients. Probiotics are anti-inflammatory bacteria that naturally reside in your gut, but they can also be found in local drugstores as a supplement. A probiotic could help to support the growth and balance of the good bacteria against the unhealthy strains of bacteria in your gut.
Studies have examined probiotics in mental health, and the initial results look highly promising. Probiotics were found to have some helpful benefits in depressed and anxious patients. And diets geared toward supporting the growth of this good bacteria were found to improve cognitive, emotional, physical, and digestive well-being. Further, when comparing probiotics to mental health medications, probiotics do not carry the same potential risks and side effects. As they are studied further—and as we understand more about the roles of good gut bacteria in depression—probiotics will likely become a more standard recommendation of all mental health professionals.
There are several other ways that you can protect your gut and thus protect your mental health as well. Good self-care, hydration, and getting adequate sleep are crucial. Avoid processed foods, and eat foods such as kimchi and kefir, which are also protective for these good strains of bacteria. So, remember this gut-brain connection, and that taking care of your mental health is key to your overall health and happiness.
Just a note: this article should not be taken as medical advice and for any specific medical questions, your personal physician should be consulted!