Microbiome & Mental Health

 Microbiome & Mental Health


There is no doubt that the Microbiome plays a key role in your physical health. But did you know it can even affect your mental health? While there are still many aspects of the Microbiome that are not understood, we do know that the gut bacteria influence multiple aspects of our mental health, including mood and anxiety. There are several ways to modify your Microbiome, such as eating probiotics and prebiotics, which can positively impact your mood.

What is the Microbiome?

You may have heard of the microbiome, but you probably don't know what it is.

The microbiome is the collection of microorganisms that live in your body and the collective genome of all those microorganisms. Microbes are everywhere — on your skin, in your nose and mouth, inside your gut — even in places we haven't looked yet like the mouth or vagina! They're even on other surfaces like shoes or countertops! There are so many tiny living creatures that they outnumber human cells by 10 to 1 (in some cases). In other words: you have more microbes than you do human cells!

Microbiome science has been advancing quickly over the past few years with new discoveries about how our bodies interact with these tiny organisms every day—and why it matters for our overall health and well-being.

Can the Microbiom affect your mental health?

Your microbiome, the population of bacteria that live inside your body, can affect your mental health. The microbiome has been linked to depression and anxiety.

A study in 2018 found that people with major depressive disorder had different microbiomes compared to people without this condition. And another one found that depressed women had less diversity in their microbiome compared to non-depressed women.

The researchers also showed that giving mice antibiotics caused them to develop anxiety symptoms similar to those seen in humans with mental illness (like PTSD or schizophrenia).

How do you modify your Microbiome?

Eat a variety of foods. Eating a varied diet will help you consume a wide range of nutrients and eliminate food intolerances that may contribute to your mental health symptoms.

Start with fermented foods, which are the most probiotic-rich choices available. Fermentation—also known as lacto fermentation—is the process in which bacteria breaks down sugar into lactic acid. It’s how we get cheese, yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut and other cultured or pickled products. When it comes to mental health, these foods can improve digestion by adding good bacteria to the gut while eliminating bad bacteria that cause bloating or constipation (both common issues for people struggling with anxiety).


Prebiotics are substances that feed the good bacteria in our guts. They are found in all sorts of foods, and they help increase the number of beneficial bacteria in your gut.

There are two kinds of prebiotics: fructans and galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS). Foods that contain these prebiotics include artichokes, asparagus, bananas, chicory root (which is often used to make coffee creamer), garlic cloves and leeks. You can also find them in supplements if you don't want to eat them or if your doctor recommends it because you have trouble digesting foods high in fiber.

Prebiotics help increase the amount of good bacteria in your gut by giving them more food on which to grow! This is different from probiotics because with probiotics you're actually adding new types of bacteria into your stomach; prebiotics allow existing ones to thrive!

Feed Your Gut


Probiotics are the good bacteria that help your body function properly. They can be found in foods like yogurt and kimchi, as well as supplements.

Probiotics have been shown to be beneficial for our mental health—and they’ve been proven to help with depression. Researchers at the University of California Los Angeles found that when people with major depressive disorder took a probiotic supplement for six weeks, their symptoms improved significantly compared to those who took a placebo pill. The study suggests that probiotics may be an effective treatment for depression—and it’s one worth trying if you suffer from this mood disorder or any other mental health condition.

Your Microbiome has more power over your mental health than you might think

For years, scientists and research professionals have debated the influence that one’s Microbiome has on their mental health. It’s a fascinating topic with many facets, but the main focus of this article is to bring light to how your Microbiome affects your moods and emotions (which I will refer to as “mental health” throughout).

Mental Health is an umbrella term used to describe our emotional health including feelings such as happiness, sadness and anger. It can also include our cognitive abilities like memory or attention span.

The Microbiome plays a large role in these emotions/mental states because there are trillions of micro-organisms living inside our guts influencing every aspect of our body including: digestion, immune system function and even brain function!


The days of treating mental health with medicine alone may be coming to an end. The recent discovery of the human microbiome, a community of microbes that live in and on our bodies and are part of what makes us who we are, has caused many scientists to rethink how they approach mental health care. The Microbiome can affect your mood, decision making ability and even regulate the chemicals in your brain that control anxiety.


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