Your Gut Bacteria Linked to Anxiety and Depression. Here’s What to Do to Stay Mentally Healthy

Your Gut Bacteria Linked to Anxiety and Depression. Here’s What to Do to Stay Mentally Healthy

• Kefir, a fermented milk product that tastes similar to yogurt, is a great way to boost healthy bacteria on the go. Unlike yogurt, kefir is liquid and drinkable.

• Miso is a traditional Japanese food made from fermented grains, such as barley, rice or soybeans. It adds a strong, meaty flavor to soups and noodle dishes.

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• Sauerkraut is a fermented cabbage dish that originated in Germany. It goes best with sausages like bratwurst, but don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Grill it with apples and cheddar between two tortillas for a fusion-style quesadilla.

• Kimchi is a spicy fermented cabbage, the Korean version of sauerkraut. Try it with rice and noodle dishes, or get creative and top a hamburger with kimchi. Kimchi complements almost any savory food.

Other Methods to Optimize Gut Bacteria

Diet isn’t the only lifestyle factor that affects intestinal bacteria balance. A key component in promoting healthy gut bacteria growth is to avoid antibiotics unless they are really necessary. Antibiotics not only kill bad bacteria, but also the good bacteria in your gut. A new procedure that may help restore severely unbalanced gut bacteria is fecal microbiota transplantation, which uses healthy bacteria from a donor to colonize a patient’s intestinal tract.

If you are struggling with depression, anxiety or another mental disorder, increasing healthy gut bacteria is a harmless and potentially life-changing treatment to consider, but remember that every person has a slightly different balance of gut bacteria. Talk to your healthcare provider to determine which dietary changes, lifestyle changes, supplements and procedures are right for you.