Posted on Thu, 7 Mar 19
A diet that is designed to improve the health of billions of bacteria living in your digestive system has been shown to reduce body weight and mitigate depression.
A hot question in research right now is whether or not a gut microbiome-targeted dietary intervention could improve mental health. There have been suggestions that it could from animal studies and clinical trials of probiotics, but few, if any, dietary interventions have carefully assessed the diet-microbiome-brain connection.
A fascinating new study suggests putting your gut bacteria on a diet might be good for your brain. In the study, a group of overweight women were educated on the relationship between gut bacteria, obesity and mental health and well as the influence of diet on gut bacterial composition. They were then counselled in healthy eating with specific instructions targeting the gut microbiome including increasing dietary fibre and fermented foods, especially yoghurt.
At the end of the 8-week programme participants had significantly increased their intake of dietary fibre, vegetables and dairy (including yoghurt) consumption. And the diet significantly improved microbiome diversity, a barometer of gut bacterial health, as well as resulting in significant reductions in body weight (by about 1.6 kg) and depressive symptoms. Significant improvements in self-rated overall health were also observed.
Commenting on their findings, the research group, from Nagoya University Graduate School of Medicine and Fukushima Medical University, Japan noted that “This study primarily showed that nutritional education focusing on gut microbiota had positive effects on obesity and the depression scale. In addition, the study showed that gut microbiota diversity increased after nutritional education focusing on gut microbiota. For the first time, we examined the proposition that obesity, mental health, and gut microbiota are modulated by nutritional education focusing on gut microbiota.”
Uemura M, Hayashi F, Ishioka K, et al. Obesity and mental health improvement following nutritional education focusing on gut microbiota composition in Japanese women: a randomised controlled trial. Eur J Nutr. 2018 Dec 6. doi: 10.1007/s00394-018-1873-0.