Your Microbiome Affects Your Mood. Can your diet change your mood? And does your gut health have anything to do with it?

Your Microbiome Affects Your Mood

Your Microbiome Affects Your Mood

Can your diet change your mood? And does your gut health have anything to do with it?

Here is a fascinating new study that helps us better understand what we are starting to call the microbiota-gut-brain axis.

Researchers analyzed the diets and moods of people in 3 study groups (including people with mild depression). Here’s what they found:

🩸 Higher circulating levels of proline (an amino acid from food) in the blood plasma were linked with more severe depression.

🧬 Circulating levels of proline depended on the gut microbiota. Some people with high dietary consumption of proline did not have high proline in their blood circulation.

💛 People with high levels of proline in their diets but not in their blood circulation had more Bifidobacterium and microbes producing short-chain fatty acids in their gut microbiome (these are the healthy and helpful gut bugs!).

Whenever we see an “association” like this, we need to ask what came first? Does depression disrupt the microbiome, or does a disrupted microbiome cause depression?

The researchers in this study were extremely thorough. They went on to do fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) from humans to mice to explore whether the microbiome could be causal in depression, and…

….the answer they got was YES!

It’s important to compare this to traditional treatment for depression. It is estimated that 300 million people worldwide suffer from depression. Traditional treatment (meds such as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors and tricyclic antidepressants) only helps in 50% of those treated and relapse rates are about 40%.

I have written about the gut/brain axis in the past, a rapidly developing area of medical research for chronic illness. This study is specifically looking at the microbiome/gut/brain axis and its involvement in depression. This fascinating research takes the examination of the root cause of depression to a completely different level. If you like reading medical journals and studies, click the link below to look at their work. For those that don’t, I’ll distill the information for you. It is a long and very technically detailed article.

In this study, elevated circulating proline levels were consistently found to be associated with higher depression scores. Elevated proline levels have also been associated with epilepsy, schizophrenia, seizures, and dementia. Elevated proline levels have been shown to alter the communication between nerve cells in the nervous system by the neurotransmitters GABA and glutamate which have opposite effects on neurons.

The researchers in this study feel that one of the underlying root causes of depression is from elevated proline levels that alter the normal physiologic balance of GABA and glutamate in the synapses between neurons as they communicate. These researchers propose that dietary management to reduce proline consumption is a key to ameliorating depression symptoms.

So what foods contain a lot of proline? Here is a list:

Proline (g) Proline food sources (100 g)
12.295 Gelatins, dry powder, unsweetened
8.89 Gelatin desserts, dry mix, reduced calorie, with aspartame, added phosphorus, potassium, sodium, vitamin C
8.89 Gelatin desserts, dry mix, reduced calorie, with aspartame, no added sodium
7.262 Snacks, pork skins, plain
6.769 Snacks, pork skins, barbecue-flavor
4.96 Soy protein isolate, potassium type
4.96 Soy protein isolate, potassium type, crude protein basis
4.96 Soy protein isolate
4.86 Cheese, parmesan, shredded
4.622 Cheese, parmesan, grated
4.5 Soy protein isolate, PROTEIN TECHNOLOGIES INTERNATIONAL,SUPRO
4.4 Soy protein isolate, PROTEIN TECHNOLOGIES INTERNATIONAL, ProPlus
4.18 Cheese, parmesan, hard
3.869 Cheese, gruyere
3.789 Seal, bearded (Oogruk), meat, dried (Alaska Native)
3.718 Cheese, romano
3.693 Cheese, goat, hard type
3.69 Cheese, swiss
3.503 Milk, dry, nonfat, regular, with added vitamin A and vitamin D
3.503 Milk, dry, nonfat, regular, without added vitamin A and vitamin D
3.481 Whale, beluga, meat, dried (Alaska Native)
3.439 Milk, dry, nonfat, calcium reduced
3.4 Milk, dry, nonfat, instant, with added vitamin A and vitamin D
3.4 Milk, dry, nonfat, instant, without added vitamin A and vitamin D
3.323 Cheese, fontina
3.322 Milk, buttermilk, dried
3.298 Soy protein concentrate, produced by acid wash
3.298 Soy protein concentrate, produced by alcohol extraction
3.298 Soy protein concentrate, crude protein basis (N x 6.25), produced by acid wash
3.259 Egg, white, dried, stabilized, glucose reduced
3.251 Cheese, edam
3.245 Cheese, gouda
3.231 Cheese, parmesan, dry grated, reduced fat
3.153 Egg, white, dried
3.098 Egg, white, dried, powder, stabilized, glucose reduced
2.98 Fish, whitefish, dried (Alaska Native)
2.969 Cheese, tilsit
2.892 Egg, white, dried, flakes, stabilized, glucose reduced
2.892 Cheese, port de salut
2.862 Seal, bearded (Oogruk), meat, partially dried (Alaska Native)
2.848 Pork, fresh, variety meats and by-products, ears, frozen, raw
2.838 Cheese, caraway
2.81 Spices, mustard seed, ground
2.806 Cheese, cheddar
2.766 Cheese, provolone
2.766 Cheese, provolone, reduced fat
2.759 Cheese, monterey
2.754 Spices, poppy seed
2.753 Cheese, mozzarella, part skim milk, low moisture
2.75 Soy flour, defatted, crude protein basis (N x 6.25)
2.75 Soy flour, defatted
2.722 Soy flour, low-fat, crude protein basis (N x 6.25)
2.7 Spices, basil, dried
2.678 Cheese, colby
2.634 Cheese, cheshire
2.629 Soy meal, defatted, raw, crude protein basis (N x 6.25)
2.629 Soy meal, defatted, raw
2.612 Cheese, goat, semisoft type
2.594 Cheese, muenster
2.586 Tofu, dried-frozen (koyadofu), prepared with calcium sulfate
2.586 Tofu, dried-frozen (koyadofu)
2.58 Cheese, Mexican blend
2.575 Cheese, brick
2.549 Milk, dry, whole, with added vitamin D
2.549 Milk, dry, whole, without added vitamin D
2.526 Cheese, low fat, cheddar or colby
2.526 Cheese, low-sodium, cheddar or colby
2.516 Cheese, pasteurized process, swiss
2.498 Cheese, mozzarella, part skim milk
2.494 Seeds, sunflower seed flour, partially defatted
2.459 Cheese, brie
2.439 Cheese, limburger
2.403 Cheese, mexican, queso asadero
2.382 Seaweed, spirulina, dried
2.379 Soybeans, mature seeds, raw
2.365 Mollusks, whelk, unspecified, cooked, moist heat
2.36 Smelt, dried (Alaska Native)
2.351 Cheese, mozzarella, whole milk
2.346 Cheese, camembert
2.321 POPEYES, Fried Chicken, Mild, Wing, meat only, skin and breading removed
2.32 Cheese spread, pasteurized process, American
2.315 Soybeans, mature seeds, dry roasted
2.31 Spices, paprika
2.304 Peanut flour, defatted
2.3 KENTUCKY FRIED CHICKEN, Fried Chicken, EXTRA CRISPY, Wing, meat only, skin and breading removed
2.296 Meat extender
2.289 Seeds, sesame flour, low-fat
2.254 Beef, cured, breakfast strips, cooked
2.251 Cheese, pasteurized process, pimento
2.249 Cheese, mexican, queso chihuahua
2.241 Cheese, goat, soft type
2.237 KENTUCKY FRIED CHICKEN, Fried Chicken, ORIGINAL RECIPE, Wing, meat only, skin and breading removed
2.23 Cheese food, pasteurized process, swiss
2.226 Turkey, skin from whole (light and dark), roasted
2.224 POPEYES, Fried Chicken, Mild, Breast, meat only, skin and breading removed
2.224 Cheese, mozzarella, whole milk, low moisture
2.221 Fish, cod, Atlantic, dried and salted
2.187 KENTUCKY FRIED CHICKEN, Fried Chicken, EXTRA CRISPY, Breast, meat only, skin and breading removed
2.18 Lasagna, Cheese, frozen, prepared
2.151 Cheese, mexican, queso anejo
2.147 KENTUCKY FRIED CHICKEN, Fried Chicken, ORIGINAL RECIPE, Breast, meat only, skin and breading removed
2.127 POPEYES, Fried Chicken, Mild, Drumstick, meat only, skin and breading removed
2.125 Seeds, cottonseed flour, low fat (glandless)
2.111 KENTUCKY FRIED CHICKEN, Fried Chicken, ORIGINAL RECIPE, Drumstick, meat only, skin and breading removed
2.103 Pork, cured, bacon, cooked, broiled, pan-fried or roasted
2.1 Cheese, blue
2.094 Seeds, cottonseed meal, partially defatted (glandless)
2.089 Cheese, roquefort
2.089 Beef, variety meats and by-products, lungs, cooked, braised
2.084 Spaghetti, protein-fortified, dry, enriched (n x 6.25)
2.084 Macaroni, protein-fortified, dry, enriched, (n x 5.70)
2.084 Macaroni, protein-fortified, dry, enriched, (n x 6.25)
2.084 Spaghetti, protein-fortified, dry, enriched (n x 5.70)
2.078 KENTUCKY FRIED CHICKEN, Fried Chicken, EXTRA CRISPY, Drumstick, meat only, skin and breading removed
2.075 Wheat flour, whole-grain
2.06 Soybeans, mature seeds, roasted, no salt added
2.06 Soybeans, mature seeds, roasted, salted
2.06 Turkey, enhanced, skin from whole, (light and dark), roasted
2.035 Soy flour, full-fat, roasted

Here is a little excerpt from the book Super Gut by William Davis MD.

“It’s been known for years that about a third of people who experience depression…show increased measures of inflammation such as C-reactive protein and other markers. The same people who show increased markers of inflammation with depression are also those most likely to prove resistant to prescription antidepressant medications.

In a number of clinical studies, brave volunteers without depression have willingly received injections of the LPS (lipopolysaccharide) endotoxin derived from the cell walls of bacteria. Within hours of receiving this artificial increase in LPS, they developed the signature emotions of depression: dark mood, anxiety, loss of motivation, disinterest in everyday activities, and impaired cognitive function. Imaging of brain function in these people revealed all the brain hallmarks of depression. The conclusion: the products of bacterial breakdown that enter the bloodstream play a role in causing depression, especially in those unresponsive to conventional treatment. ….Lost from these observations is the fact that, outside of these artificial situations in which LPS is directly injected, the high levels of LPS circulating in the bloodstream of many people in everyday life originate with bacterial overpopulation that leads to endotoxemia.”

Dr. Davis’ recommendation for this issue is homemade yogurt containing Lactobacillus helveticus and Bifidobacterium longum with an addition of L. casei and he has a recipe in his book.

There are so many details I could unpack from this study, but for now, I’ll leave it at this.

🥗 The foods you eat can influence your mood, but what might be even more important is the health of your gut microbiome. So now the question becomes—what are you doing to nourish your gut?

Reference
Mayneris-Perxachs J, Castells-Nobau A, Arnoriaga-Rodríguez M et al. Microbiota alterations in proline metabolism impact depression. Cell Metab . 2022; 34: 681-701.

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