Friday 18 October 2019

Mood food: scientists developing probiotic to treat depression

Prof John Cryan and Prof Ted Dinan from University College Cork, who have been researching gut bacteria for 14 years. Photo: APC Microbiome Institute
Prof John Cryan and Prof Ted Dinan from University College Cork, who have been researching gut bacteria for 14 years. Photo: APC Microbiome Institute

Áilín Quinlan

Irish scientists who discovered a link between mood and gut bacteria are developing a probiotic to treat depression.

Professors Ted Dinan and John Cryan have spent 14 years investigating how the trillions of bacteria living in our gut - the microbiota - can control our brains.

"What we have discovered is that the microbiota influences our emotions to a very significant extent," said Professor Dinan of University College Cork and consultant psychiatrist at Cork University Hospital.

"We have shown that people who are clinically depressed have less diversity in the microbiota in their gut than people who are not depressed.

"A large amount of this is probably down to what they eat," he said, adding that however, other factors such as the impact of antibiotics, can play a role.

"The Mediterranean diet is probably the best for health in terms of heart, mood and the microbiota," he said.

The experts began investigating how probiotics - bacteria associated with healthy gut flora - such as those in 'live' yoghurt - could have potentially positive effects on mood.

"We were trying to identify the bacteria, which, when we ingest them, are potentially beneficial."

Over the next few years, he and Prof Cryan will be developing a 'psychobiotic', or in other words "a good probiotic product for treating the milder forms of depression".

'The Psychobiotic Revolution; Mood Food and the New Science of the Gut-Brain Connection', which is co-authored with science journalist Scott Anderson, is scheduled to go on sale in Irish bookshops at the end of this month.

Irish Independent

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