This knowledge has led to the concept of psychobiotics, the probiotics and prebiotics that can improve our mental health. Probiotics are live microbes found in fermented foods - think sauerkraut, kimchi and yogurt. Prebiotics are bacteria that feed probiotics.
These bacteria are capable of producing and delivering neuroactive substances which act on the brain-gut axis. Evidence is emerging of benefits in alleviating symptoms of depression and of chronic fatigue syndrome.
As researchers explored other aspects of our microbiome, a team found dramatic microbiome imbalances in the feces of participants with bipolar disorder compared to the control group. This reinforces the hypothesis that there is a link between gut health and mental health.
This exciting new research may eventually allow doctors to prescribe psychobiotics as part of a mental-health treatment protocol. Probiotics and prebiotics may someday be used, either alone or with other treatments to alleviate anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues - even, perhaps, autism and dementia.
As we become aware of this up-to-the-minute research, it reminds us to embrace a variety of whole foods, including fermented foods, in our diet every day for optimal health, energy and well-being.
Stay Active, Keep Moving and
Enjoy Your (Fermented) Food