Some compelling recent animal studies have shown that behavior, anxiety, stress and depression are all linked to the gut microbiota. But the most compelling line of evidence by far comes from studies on antibiotic use in humans. A large UK study found those treated with more than five courses of penicillin increased their risk for depression by 50% and also found that antibiotics increased the risk for anxiety. Researchers found no correlation with anti-virals, and only a small one with anti-fungals. This all points to the involvement of bacteria in depression and anxiety, but not viruses or fungi.
This scientific evidence is fascinating but what is the real world impact? For those who struggle with anxiety and depression this means that what we put into our gut is important for far more than our physical health. Eating a healthy, balanced diet is good for our mental health and that of our children. There is also some early research into the use of probiotics for this purpose that could be promising.
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