Eating yogurt may help alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety, according to a new study.
Researchers from the University of Virginia in the US, reversed depression symptoms in mice by feeding them a probiotic bacteria Lactobacillus found in yogurt.
They also discovered a specific mechanism for how the bacteria affects mood, providing a direct link between the health of the gut microbiome and mental health.
The researchers were able to induce depression symptoms in mice and then alleviate the symptoms simply by feeding them Lactobacillus.
“The study will help us not to bother with complex drugs and side effects when we can just play with the microbiome. It would be magical just to change your diet, to change the bacteria you take and fix your health and your mood,” said lead researcher Alban Gaultier from the University of Virginia in the US.
“A single strain of lactobacillus, is able to influence mood,” Gaultier observed.
In addition, the study found that the amount of lactobacillus in the gut affects the level of a metabolite in the blood, called kynurenine, which has been shown to drive depression. When lactobacillus was diminished in the gut, the levels of kynurenine went up and depression symptoms set in.
While there is no harm in people with depression eating yogurt, people receiving treatment for depression should not stop taking their medications without consulting their physicians, the researchers suggested.
This finding could lead to new strategies for treating psychiatric conditions. Based on the findings, the researchers plan to begin studying the effect in humans as soon as possible.
The study was published in the journal Scientific Reports.