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Depression could be down to your gut bacteria.

Nutritionist

Have you got it in you?

Would you consider eating a live organism? ‘I’m a celebrity get me out of here’ probably springs to mind. However, there are 10 trillion live organisms living inside your gut right now. They vary from fungi, yeast, mould and bacteria and play a key role in immune function, metabolism, brain-gut communication, muscle accrual, depression, autism, psoriasis and digestion.

Factors affecting diversity

There are several factors that impact the diversity of these little creatures, from how you were born to what you eat. If the diversity of these special guests is altered, it can lead to various disorders and diseases. Like all living organisms, these microbiotas need certain conditions and nutrients to thrive.

Prebiotics

These gut bugs need nutrients called prebiotics. Prebiotics are non-digestible short-chain carbohydrates that are fermented in the large intestines. They stimulate the growth and activity of the gut microbes. Inulin and fructo-oligosaccharides have been shown to stimulate the Bifidobacterium and lactobacillus species which have great health benefits to the host.

Health benefits

These health benefits include: constipation relief, decrease in diarrhoea, reduced risk of osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, obesity and type 2 diabetes and depression.

Depression

Depression is increasing with incidents of suicide rising in the younger male population. One in 6 people experience depression at some point in their lives. There are more incidences of self-harm than ever before. Three hundred million people suffer from depression, 4.4% of the entire world population. In the UK there were 19.7% of the population that had depression or anxiety in 2014, a 15% increase from the previous year. There were 800,000 deaths from suicide caused by depression. The leading cause of death in 15 – 29-year olds worldwide is suicide.

Gut microbes and the brain

Studies have found a link between the microbes in the gut and the brain. Imagine that, those little tiny microorganisms dwelling in your gut can actually influence your brain and vice versa. It is said that the vagus nerve (the nerve that connects the brain to the body) is the main route of communication between brain and gut. Could those gut bugs assist in the elimination of depression?

The evidence

Studies have shown that when the microbiome was missing, germ free animals had abnormal brain development. Microbiota can change brain chemistry and alter behaviour including depression. The gut-brain axis is a real thing. The gut communicates with the brain and the brain communicates with the gut. They’re not having a full-on conversation but there have been many studies that have proven this link. With the evidence that the brain and gut are linked, what is the evidence on how the microbiota impacts on depression?

Microbes and depression

Poor richness and diversity of the microbiota has been associated with depression, where a lack of specific phylum is present in those experiencing the devastating symptoms of depression.

The microbiota in patients with depression was shown to be different than those without depression. Another study has shown a reduction in stress levels when given prebiotics over a four-week period.

The evidence is promising and could lead to a completely different method of treatment for many diseases. So, what are you waiting for? Go out there and find yourself some prebiotics to give your gut bugs the shake-up they need to get you healthy.

If you would like more information on foods that contain prebiotics, please get in touch. If you would like to have your diet analysed either send me an email or book in for an appointment.

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ses. So, what are you waiting for? Go out there and find yourself