It's mental health week and I'm reminded of my past struggles with crippling depression and anxiety. It's not a simple case of "all in your head". This is real, it's biochemistry. And the great thing about chemistry is that we can change it. According to Rios et al (2017), accumulating evidence implicates the involvement of the gut microbiota in processes relevant to mood disorders. The gut microbiota (microbiome) are bacteria, yeast and other microbes that live in the gut and you can think of this organ as a chemical factory. These little critters produces metabolites which can be beneficial or detrimental to mental health.
A recent study by Skylerman et al (2017) titled: Effect of Lactobacillus rhamnosus HN001 in Pregnancy on Postpartum Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety: A Randomised Double-blind Placebo-controlled Trial conducted an insightful study with 423 women in Auckland, New Zealand using L.rhamnosus a species of bacteria commonly found in Kefir and other fermented food. According to the researchers, the women who received this bacterial strain had significantly lower depression and anxiety scores in the postpartum period. This probiotic may be useful for the prevention or treatment of symptoms of depression and anxiety postpartum.
If you are suffering from a mental illness, consumption of fermented foods may be worth exploring. Start here