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Can Gut Bugs Cause Depression?

sharma-obesity-gut-buts1Regular readers will by now be well aware of the rapidly growing body of researcher supporting the idea that your gut bugs (of which you have more than you have cells in your body) may well play a key role in determining your risk for obesity and other metabolic disorders.

Now, a paper by Ruth Ann Luna and Jane Foster from Baylor College of Medicine and McMaster University, respectively, published in Current Opinion in Biotechnology, review the evidence that gut bugs may well also have significant effects on your stress response as well as other aspects of mental healthy, including depression.

As one example, they cite a study that shows,

“…a general underrepresentation of the Bacteroidetes phylum in depressed patients and an association of the Lachnospiraceae family with the depression group, and interestingly, even with a decrease in Bacteroidetes, specific operational taxonomic units (OTUs) identified as members of the Bacteroidetes phylum correlated with depression.”

They also cite a number of studies showing that stress can affect gut bug populations and that certain gut bacteriomes are associated with a greater stress response, suggesting that the relationship between gut bugs and stressors may well be a two-way street.

The authors go on to describe a number of pathways that may link gut bugs to humoral, neural, and cellular signaling pathways to brain function.

Clearly, this appears a rich area of research that may well reveal pathways common to both neurological and metabolic issues, both of which may turn out to be amenable to dietary and probiotic interventions.

London, UK

ResearchBlogging.orgLuna RA, & Foster JA (2014). Gut brain axis: diet microbiota interactions and implications for modulation of anxiety and depression. Current opinion in biotechnology, 32C, 35-41 PMID: 25448230


  1. In truth, it’s the gut bug profile that affects emotions. Food, stress, and, ingested microbes determine that gut bug profile as well as what sort of chemicals they produce. Whether chemicals released by gut bugs are beneficial or detrimental depends upon the quality of food intake – fiber, mineral content, fatty acid profile, and ratios of carbohydrate, protein, and fat.

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  2. I cannot help but ponder how distorted the view of reality for researchers and others focusing on these correlations…

    I.e. These disabling “mental” conditions subside, for instance, only after the lenses of medical pathology are removed. The gut bugs research makes me laugh—until I recall how crazymaking these discourses are for real, vulnerable human beings trying to sort out the origins of their suffering. We might as well try to suggest that parasites from outer space, a la body snatchers film genres, are causing our mental and emotional suffering. The omg creepy colonization by gut bugs paradigm and the alienation resulting from outer space parasitic invaders paradigm are both variations of reification—social domination in action—as long as we keep swallowing those fantastic tales of menace.

    Oh, alienation and colonization are making us sick, tragically, because domination harms human beings…Kills human beings, too, btw.

    These gut bug narratives are forms of symbolic violence. The imaginary in-the-future-healing-treatments which will supposedly save our insides from these damaging gut invaders are, perhaps, strategically and socially-constructed NEW false deprivations, now, thanks to articles and posts like these…socially constructed “medical needs” invented…Ta DA!…by capitalist bullshit peddled (as if for free, no money up front) exactly like we have witnessed here—fake needs which serve to keep folks feeling deprived and worried and STRESSED OUT about not having access to treatments they now believe could actually prove to be the long awaited secret remedy for their suffering.

    See what a simple and neat trick we just witnessed….dominant discourses constructing new waves of false dependency and feelings of powerlessness among the colonized, er, among the gut bug infested masses.

    Good thing I have my trusty “tin foil hat” here…to protect me. 🙂

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  3. The link between gut bugs and depression is becoming more and more discussed topic. My personal opinion is that these 2 things are connected and time will prove me right.

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