Yogurt is a delicious and nutritional treat people often confuse as a remedy for all sorts of health conditions (often with the sneaky help of science).
But can yogurt treat depression, one of the most pervasive, frustrating and common health problems affecting more than 16 million adults in America annually?
A recent study appearing in Scientific Reports concluded feeding mice a proprietary strain of Lactobacillus reuteri in yogurt made from live cultures was enough on its own to reverse depressive symptoms in stressed out mice.
A team of scientists at the University of Virginia’s School of Medicine came to that finding after studying the gut health of tiny mice and discovering the depletion of Lactobacillus reuteri triggered the onset of depression.
To take it a step further, that loss of Lactobacillus reuteri was responsible for spiking levels of kynurenine (a metabolite in blood) that bring on depressive symptoms. Once mice were fed Lactobacillus reuteri with their food, however, their stress levels returned to nearly normal, scientists said.
This research does represent evidence that the gut-brain axis – the link between your brain, emotions and intestines – is very much a reality, and maintaining a healthy balance among all three is critical for good physical and mental health.
University of Virginia scientists were so pleased with these results on mice, they plan to turn their attention to human subjects, specifically with multiple sclerosis patients who struggle with depression too.
However, one probiotic strain may not be enough to do the trick. Other studies have found probiotics formulated with Bifidobacterium longum may have a similar beneficial effect on treating depression.
What’s more, there’s no guarantees the yogurt you’ll find in a grocery store will contain exactly the right amounts or combinations of beneficial bacteria that make much of a difference on balancing your emotions.
But, there is growing evidence that a probiotic containing multiple strains of beneficial bacteria – think EndoMune Advanced Probiotic — may be a more effective solution for treating depression and a safer one given all of the side effects associated with antidepressants.