Fermented Foods for Depression

The last time I took a child to the doctor for an ear infection the doctor suggested I let the infection run its course. A shocker after 28 years of parenting. But in those 28 years, we have learned that overprescribing of antibiotics is causing more harm than good. Killing our healthy gut flora is one such harm. Read on to see what Abigail has discovered about the side-effects of an unhealthy gut.

Posted by Abigail

Can eating fermented foods make you happier? It turns out that the joy procured from participating in making and consuming traditionally fermented foods is twofold. First, the process is pleasurable and serves as an enjoyable hobby and food storage method for many home preservationists. Second, many recent studies seem to suggest that a healthy gut may be a possible treatment for depression and anxiety.

Is there really a connection between gut health and the way our brains work? Scientists have been taking an interest in this very topic, and it turns out that the effects of a healthy microbiome are more far-reaching than just good digestion. The composition of the gut microbiota (for good or for bad) can affect physiology, contribute to various diseases, communicate with the central nervous system and even influence brain behavior and function. [1]

Many researchers find promise in how microbiota can affect healthy human brain function. The authors  of one study stated that studying the gut-brain axis “may provide novel approaches for prevention and treatment of mental illness, including anxiety and depression.” [2] Another new study suggests that there is “promise in the development of interventions targeting the gut microbiota for the prevention and treatment of common mental health disorders.” [3]

Fermented Foods for Depression

How exactly might probiotics serve as a treatment for mental illnesses? Research suggests that probiotics can positively affect many factors associated with depression and anxiety. According to a study on probiotics for Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) in Medical Hypotheses, “probiotics have the potential to lower systemic inflammatory cytokines, decrease oxidative stress, improve nutritional status, and correct SIBO [Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth].” The authors of the study concluded that probiotics should be considered as an adjuvant treatment for major depressive disorder.  [4]

While more research needs to be done in this area, it is clear that probiotics are promising promotors of mental health and possible treatment for some mental illnesses. We also know that fermented foods carry high amounts of varied probiotics—far more than a supplement—and help to promote a healthy microbiome. That healthy microbiome can, in turn, affect many elements of our health and well-being, including, but not limited to, our mental health.

I am not a doctor, scientist or health professional. The contents of this post are meant solely for informational purposes. It is my desire that it will inspire more of your own research and promote healthy conversations with your doctor. Your health care decisions should be made solely between you and your healthcare professional. Talk to your doctor about the role probiotics and a healthy microbiome can play in your overall health before making any treatment decisions.

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Fermented foods for depression? Trying certainly can’t hurt. Besides, fermenting your own foods at home is easy and enjoyable. If fermenting foods intimidates you, click on the tab “the basics” for some of the easiest instructions you will find. Need tools? Check out our store.

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Sources:
[1] Cryan J.F. & Dinan T.G. (2012). Mind-altering microorganisms: the impact of the gut microbiota on brain and behaviour. Nature Reviews. Neuroscience, Volume 13, Issue 10, Pages 701-712. doi: 10.1038/nrn3346 [2] Foster, Jane A. & McVey Neufeld, Karen-Anne. (2013). Gut-brain axis: how the microbiome influences anxiety and depression. Trends in Neurosciences, Volume 36, Issue 5, Pages 305-312. doi:10.1016/j.tins.2013.01.005. [3] Dash S., Clarke G., Berk M., & Jacka FN. (2015). The gut microbiome and diet in psychiatry: focus on depression. Curr Opin Psychiatry, Volume 28, Issue 1, Pages 1-6. doi: 10.1097/YCO.0000000000000117 [4] Logan, Alan C. & Katzman, Martin. (2005). Major depressive disorder: probiotics may be an adjuvant therapy. Medical Hypotheses, Volume 64, Issue 3, Pages 533–538. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.mehy.2004.08.019

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three children on her acre-and a half homestead in scenic Pennsylvania. You can visit her blog about living the homegrown life (and seeking contentment while doing it) at They’re Not Our Goats.

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