Can Yogurt Help Treat Depression?

Can yogurt treat depression? Really, what’s that all about?

Yogurt is a fermented food that has the good bacteria for your intestines. Real live cultures of Lactobacillus in the foods you eat can help balance the bacteria in your gut. That promotes a healthy gut environment so the balance of good bacteria out weighs the bad bacteria. This reduces the levels of anxiety and depression(1).

There is a high correlation of depression and anxiety in people that have irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn’s Disease(1). With these gut problems there is an imbalance of the good bacteria. They don’t make the right amounts of GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid). Other reasons for having an imbalance in intestinal flora is eating a diet high in processed sugary foods. Taking antibiotics will disrupt the normal bowel flora. As well as certain medications.

GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid) is the main inhibitory neurotransmitter of the central nervous system. It works to slow down the hyperactivity in the brain causing anxiety, then being overwhelmed with a sense of hopelessness and depression. By having a healthy gut, you increase your ability to make higher levels of GABA and decrease pathogenic bacteria.

Not just yogurt, but naturally fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, and lots of other vegetables have the good bacteria in it. We need to be aware of where we get our fermented foods. The commercialized products we get at the grocery stores may not be the best source of good gut food. They are processed for mild taste and shelf life so the bacteria are not helpful. The yogurt you get out of the dairy case may be filled with sugar, High fructose corn syrup, dyes and additives which can even be more harmful for your intestines.

Making your own fermented vegetables is an option and might be fun. There are many recipes available online. However, shopping at local health food stores for unprocessed products and natural yogurts such as kefir and lassi.Drinking kombucha can provide good bacteria also. Eating a variety of different foods can increase your chances to help get all the right bacteria.

Don’t like fermented foods? Take a supplement to get your good gut bacteria, called probiotics. Get a good brand from a reputable source. The bottles need to be protected from the sun and heat. They are live cultures, you don’t want to kill them before you get them into your system. Everyone’s gut is different, so no one supplement is right for everyone. Rotate the variety of bacteria strains you take so you can get a broad spectrum. I have my favorite from this company.

There are more reasons to get your gut working properly and having a good balance of bacteria. Things like immune support, behavioral and learning issues in children, autism, food sensitivities and more. Maybe a subject for another blog post.

I’d love to hear from you. Please leave comment and let me know what you have  done to help your guts feel better.

Reference1 Ingestion of Lactobacillus strain regulates emotional behavior and central GABA receptor expression in a mouse via the vagus nerveJavier A. Bravoa,1,Paul Forsytheb,c,1,Marianne V. Chewb,Emily Escaravageb,Hélène M. Savignaca,d,Timothy G. Dinana,e,John Bienenstockb,f,2, andJohn F. Cryana,d,ghttp://www.pnas.org/content/108/38/16050.short
Reference2 Microbiota alteration is associated with the development of stress-induced despair behavior,Ioana A. Marin, Jennifer E. Goertz, Tiantian Ren, Stephen S. Rich, Suna Onengut-Gumuscu, Emily Farber, Martin Wu, Christopher C. Overall, Jonathan Kipnis & Alban GaultierScientific Reports 7, Article number: 43859 (2017)doi:10.1038/srep43859MicrobiomeStress and resiliencePublished online:07 March 2017
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