Thursday, 8 September 2011

Probiotics or Prozac?

A friend of mine was telling me recently about how much her diet effects her mood, something I think a lot of people are unaware of. However if most people on a healthy diet were given a high sugar, high fat, low nutrient diet for a couple of weeks their mood would become depressed to some degree.

But it's not just the food you eat that's affecting your mood but also the bacteria growing in your gut. According to new research published inThe Economist, admittedly done on rats not humans, taking probiotics improved their mood and drive and reduced their levels of stress hormones.

So should doctors be prescribing probiotics rather than prozac? Well possibly (along with tyrosine and other nutrients needed for neurotransmitter production). But the link made in the article of most interest to me was that the over-prescription of antibiotics could be responsible for increasing the incidence of depression.

Certainly I think that doctors prescribe, and patients happily take, antibiotics without being fully aware of the possible repercussions. Every time you take probiotics you are killing off your gut bacteria, both good and bad, but the bad bacteria regrow more quickly so antibiotics make them more likely to take over. This can lead to gut disturbances, reduced immunity (your gut bacteria are a key part of your immune defence) and in depressed mood. Multiple courses over several years will put you at most risk, and any course of antibiotics should be followed by a course of probiotics, even just to lift your spirits.

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