Science has proven that the bacterial makeup in our microbiome profoundly affects our physiology. New findings are connecting the gut bacteria to the brain via the gut-brain axis.
As a result, probiotics and prebiotics that can influence our mental function have been termed psychobiotics. Probiotics are live microbes found in fermented foods like sauerkraut and kefir. Prebiotics are bacteria that feed probiotics.
Timothy Dinan, MD, PhD coined the term “psychobiotics.” He writes “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 in chronic fatigue syndrome.” He further explains – “Our gut microbes are an essential part of the unconscious system that regulates our behavior.”
Researchers are hopeful that perhaps someday psychobiotics can be used to alleviate anxiety and depression – even perhaps autism and dementia.
Simon Evans, PhD has been exploring other aspects of the “psycobiome” – his research has discovered dramatic microbiome imbalances in the feces of participants with bipolar disorder compared with a healthy control group.
He’s optimistic that medical professionals will eventually prescribe psychobiotics as a means to treat and manage mental health problems.