Fight depression… with yogurt!
It could be the tastiest way to fight depression yet... and it's available in strawberry, blueberry, peach, or honey.
It's yogurt, as new research reveals how the live bacterial cultures found in this healthy treat could help boost your mood and chase away the blues.
The key is a type of bacteria called Lactobacillus found in yogurt, as well as in many probiotic supplements.
But it's also found in your gut, where it's a critical part of the colony of friendly bugs that help with everything from digestion to nutrition to metabolism.
Now, the new study on mice shows how those same Lactobacillus bacteria can influence and alter your mood by balancing out a metabolite in the blood that's been linked to depression.
When the mice were deliberately stressed, their levels of Lactobacillus plunged.
You've heard of "killer stress," right? In this case, it seems to be true as stress literally killed off those important stomach germs.
Once the Lactobacillus population dropped, levels of that metabolite -- called kynurenine -- jumped.
The higher the kynurenine levels, the more the mice began to show the signs and symptoms of depression.
Now this is where it gets REALLY interesting: Simply replacing the Lactobacillus by feeding it to the mice had an immediate and dramatic effect.
As the Lactobacillus levels rose, the levels of kynurenine dropped... and the depressive symptoms practically vanished.
Since this is a study on mice, we have to take it with a grain of salt... or at least a sprinkle of granola.
But we do know from HUMAN studies that the bacteria balance in the gut plays a major role in mood -- and that boosting the levels of good bugs can help fight depression, beat stress, and ease anxiety.
And it can begin with something as simple as a cup of yogurt.
Whether you're facing depression or not, those same bacteria can help in so many other ways -- but before you hit the supermarket to stock up, let me share two quick tips.
First, make sure your yogurt actually contains "live" or "active" cultures and in helpful amounts.
And second, watch out for yogurts with added sugars or chemical no-cal sweeteners. Some of the worst are the "fruit on the bottom" blends that contain a little bit of fruit sitting in a puddle of sickly sweet syrup.
The best option is to buy plain yogurt and add your own fruit, honey, or granola.
If you don't like yogurt, don't worry: You can get the same healthy mood-boosting cultures from a quality probiotic supplement. Look for one with multiple human-tested strains, especially one with multiple strains of Lactobacillus as well as Bifidobacterium longum, another type of probiotic bacteria shown to help enhance mood.