The “Gut” – Depression Connection

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Improving gut health with a good diet and prebiotic supplements like Prebiotin® Prebiotic Fiber may soon be part of a therapeutic approach to lessen the impact and length of clinical depression, affecting more than 16.2 million Americans annually.

Why does the state of our gut microbiome matter? Over 90% of the bacteria in the gut are capable of producing neurotransmitters (chemical messengers to the brain), according to a major European study, including the well-known brain chemical serotonin, which regulates mood and appetite.

In this way, bacteria are able to stimulate the enteric nervous system (ENS), which includes the 100 million nerve cells lining our gastrointestinal tract. ENS is often called the “second brain” because it controls the whole digestive process. It is also integral in sending signals to the brain that impact how our brains function.

The kind of signals sent may depend on the type of bacteria in the gut microbiome.

“We know from decades of research the importance of a healthy balance of microorganisms in the gut microbiome in reducing risk symptoms related to common health conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and gastrointestinal illnesses,” says Greg Cooper, Director of Business and Product Development for Prebiotin. “Researchers are now finding that mental health conditions like depression are also linked to the type and amount of specific bacteria in the microbiome–and that diet and exercise can impact microbial composition.”

Numerous studies show that poor diets based on fatty, processed, and high-sugar foods produce a gut microbiome that is less diverse and induces inflammation that can lead to leaky gut syndrome, which makes us more prone to diseases.

A 2018 study at Harvard Medical School’s Joslin Diabetes Center found that mice put on a high-fat diet showed significantly more signs of anxiety, depression, and obsessive behavior than animals on standard diets.

Fiber-rich foods high in prebiotic fiber and fermented foods nourish beneficial bacteria that keep the barrier between the colon and the rest of the body strong to prevent toxins from moving into the bloodstream, resulting in less disease risk.

A recent human study compared diet interventions versus just social support in individuals with major depression. Researchers concluded that “dietary improvement may provide an efficacious and accessible treatment strategy for the management of this highly preventable mental disorder.”

Prebiotin to help shift microbial composition

Prebiotin is fully fermented in both sides of the colon, nurturing beneficial bacteria like bifidobacteria and lactobacilli.

These types of bacteria generate more beneficial short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) like butyrate,  especially effective in reducing the inflammation that is linked to depression.

“By making diet and lifestyle changes, we can shift the microbial composition of the gut microbiome and possibly change the course of depression, considered the world’s leading cause of disability,” says Prebiotin CEO Ron Walborn Jr.“We are happy to offer a product that research has demonstrated can support this shift and offers hope, especially since depression can cause significant changes in cognition even after the symptoms of depression lift.”

The Cost of Depression

Depression costs U.S. employers an estimated $100 billion each year, including $44 billion a year in lost productivity alone. For some, depression does not lift and can result in suicide, the 10th leading cause of death. Over 47,000 Americans commit suicide each year.

Veterans are especially vulnerable to depression and suicide. According to a VA report, 20.6 veterans commit suicide every day.

For help, call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL) at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), 24/7. Veterans in crisis or their families can receive free, confidential support 24/7 by calling the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255, texting 838255, or chatting online. 

For more detailed information on prebiotics and depression, please see Prebiotin’s latest post

Jackson GI Medical/Prebiotin was founded by visionary gastroenterologist Dr. Frank Jackson in 2008 and is dedicated to the responsible development and marketing of medically-credible nutritional supplements backed by third-party research. Located in Harrisburg, PA, the company can be reached at 855-466-3488 or online at

Contact: Anne Mercer Larson, 855-466-3488,

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