Specific Gut Bacteria Linked to Depression

What if there was a new way to treat depression by targeting its underlying cause?

That is one of the goals of recent research aimed at understanding the complex dynamics of how our gut health influences our mental health. Trillions of bacteria, viruses, and fungi living within your digestive system make up the gut microbiome. There have been a large number of studies in the last few years aimed at identifying how this ecosystem of microorganisms within your gut influences the health of your entire body. New data has singled out a specific bacteria that could be behind cases of depression.

The findings were taken from a study that did not set out to link the gut to depression. The study’s aim was to determine how genetics and diet play a role in the makeup of an individual’s gut microbiome. These findings were sort of stumbled upon. The researchers looked at data from a 40-year long Finnish study that assessed the genetic makeup of 6000 participants, identified their gut microbiome, and tracked the details of their diet, lifestyle, and health outcomes.

The findings:

  • The team analyzed which genetic variants could influence certain microbes in the gut to be more abundant and how individual microbes could contribute to 46 common diseases.
  • They found two parts of the human genome that were responsible for influencing gut microbiome composition: the gene for digesting the milk sugar lactose and the gene that helps specify blood type.
  • While looking at these various conditions of the gut they discovered that patients who were undergoing cases of depression had a higher number of the bacterium Morganella present in their guts.

The takeaway:

Take care of your gut. More and more research is showing how significant the makeup of your gut may be to your mood and mental health. But despite the growing findings, this field of study is still relatively new. The next steps for real-world use of this information would be to identify how Morganella plays a role in depression and how either supplementing different bacteria or somehow reducing this specific microbe could help to treat patients who are suffering from depression.

One thing is for certain, your gut health matters when it comes to physical and mental health!

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