Could Gut Health Play a Key Role in Mental Health?

In a recent post, Today Online explored the relationship between gut health and mental health in Singapore. Scientists are discovering that the microbes in the digestive tract have a lot to do with mental and emotional wellbeing. Adjusting the health of the gut could, in some cases, result in better mental health overall.

The Bacteria in the Gut

Human beings play host to trillions of tiny organisms, so small that they can only be seen under a microscope. Many of those microorganisms reside in the digestive tract. When infection takes over the body, a human may take an antibiotic to kill the bad bacteria; but in the process, the beneficial bacteria die as well. It’s important to replace those good bacteria by eating yogurt and certain fermented foods or by using probiotics.

A New Group of Probiotics

Beyond the immediate ramifications for digestive function and comfort, the bacteria in the gut actually affect the health of the brain as well. Early research suggests that certain types of probiotics may be valuable to mentally ill patients, restoring balance and resulting in better mental health. These new probiotics are being called “psychobiotics.”

Uncertain Claims

Some experts are still skeptical that gut microbiota can actually influence the brain. Those who hold to the theory suggest that the gut microbes might communicate with the brain via the spinal cord, vagus nerve, hormones, or immune system. Since the idea is only a few years old, not much research into the concept exists.

Early Research

Professor Tsai Ying-Chieh of Taiwan has done preliminary research on the subject. He works at the Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology of National Yang-Ming University, and most of his research has been conducted with mice. Professor Tsai and his team isolated Lactobacillus plantarum PS128, a strain of psychobiotics, that increased dopamine levels in the mice. Higher levels of dopamine in humans usually means less worry and an uplifted mood— the opposite effect of stress and depression in Singapore.

The next step for Professor Tsai was testing of Lactobacillus plantarum PS128 on a group of 80 boys on the autism spectrum. The research team noted some improvement in the behaviours of the boys, but it will take additional research and clinical trials to find the right way to apply these findings in medicine.

Future Possibilities

Medical professionals have hope that in the future, psychobiotics might prove useful for patients with autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Parkinson’s disease, depression, and learning problems; but such uses might not be possible for years. The chairman of the Medical Board at the Institute of Mental Health in Singapore, Daniel Fung, explains that there is “no strong clinical evidence to suggest any particular food or dietary supplements can improve mental disorders.”

Therapy and Treatment from a Psychiatrist in Singapore

Until research into psychobiotics is complete, you can count on the mental health specialists at Adelphi Psych Medicine Clinic to serve your needs. When you visit a psychiatrist in Singapore at our comfortable, modern clinic, you will be welcomed and well-cared for throughout your appointment.

Our treatments include EMDR, cognitive behavioural therapy, medication, talk therapy, and art therapy, along with other methods. We are dedicated to finding the treatment path that will take you back to good mental health.

News Feed from Adelphi Psych Medicine Clinic

Source: Today Online, 27 Sept 2017