“The Psychobiotic Revolution,” a biomedicine breakthrough, could help change the way we treat conditions such as depression and anxiety.
“The Psychobiotic Revolution," a book released in 2017 by Irish scientists, reveals that our brain health and state of mind are intimately connected to our gut bacteria (microbiome). These discoveries could help change the way we treat conditions such as depression and anxiety.
For the last 14 years Professor John Cryan, Chair of the Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience at University College Cork (UCC) and Ted Dinan, Professor of Psychiatry at the University, have worked to establish the gut-brain connection at the SFI Research Centre, APC Microbiome Ireland.
They have painstakingly researched how the food we eat has an impact on our psychological well-being, investigating how the bacteria living in our gut, the microbiota, can influence our brains.
And they have used clinical trials to establish that our diet plays a major role in our state of mind and mental health.
Together, and with the help of acclaimed US science writer Scott C Anderson, they produced a book which was heralded as ‘ground-breaking’ and ‘a game changer’ across the globe – both within the scientific community and beyond.
“We have discovered that the gut microbiota influences our emotions. We have shown that people who are clinically depressed have less diversity in the bacteria in their gut than people who are not depressed. The question now is how can we improve the diversity of our bacteria,” explains Professor Dinan.
“It proves the theory that a healthy gut is connected to a healthy mind,” says Professor Cryan.
He added: “We’re talking about a paradigm shift in relation to how we conceptualize how our brains work. In medicine, traditionally, we tended to compartmentalize systems in the body so if you’re interested in what happens in neuroscience or psychiatry you’re interested in what happens from the neck up. However, what we are talking about in this book is so very different as we show how bacteria in the gut can influence brain function.”
The success of ‘The Psychobiotic Revolution’ globally was also celebrated as a success story for Irish science, for UCC’s APC Microbiome Ireland research center and for Science Foundation Ireland which funded much of this vital research.
And it could have a major impact on how patients with depression, in Ireland and beyond, are treated.
Professor Dinan explains: “For so long it’s generally been perceived that anti-depressants and cognitive behavioral therapy are the mainstay of treating depression, but our work clearly shows that your microbiota is very important and that for a more holistic management of depressive illness we should be focusing on diet and exercise as well.”
"The Psychobiotic Revolution" is accessible to those unfamiliar with biomedicine. and explains in layman's terms how to increase the diversity of your diet.
Indeed, The Lancet wrote: “Although decidedly aimed at the lay reader, the tone throughout is very humorous; I found myself swiftly turning pages, excitedly anticipating the next witty joke. Overall, this is a great book that encourages you to ‘take charge of your gut to optimize your mind and your mood’. This is a book that you would reluctantly lend to friends, in the fear that they might not return it”
And The Guardian said: “The hope is that it may one day be possible to diagnose some brain diseases and mental health problems by analyzing gut bacteria, and to treat them – or at least augment the effects of drug treatments – with specific bacteria. Cryan and his colleague Ted Dinan call these mood-altering germs “psychobiotics’.”
Below you can listen to a podcast of an interview with Prof John Cryan on the topic:
Kimberley Wilson's Food and Psych Podcasthttps://t.co/0K4eaQ2MsG— Scott Anderson (@Psychobiotic) January 27, 2018
'The Psychobiotic Revolution: Mood, Food, and the New Science of the Gut-Brain Connection' – by Scott C. Anderson, John F. Cryan, and Ted Dinan is available from all good bookstores for approx. €22.
*Originally published in 2018.
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