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Nutr Neurosci. 2018 Nov 11:1-13. doi: 10.1080/1028415X.2018.1544332. [Epub ahead of print]

Fermented foods, the gut and mental health: a mechanistic overview with implications for depression and anxiety.

Aslam H1,2, Green J1,2,3, Jacka FN1,2,4, Collier F5,6, Berk M1,7, Pasco J1, Dawson SL1,2,8.

Author information

1
a IMPACT Strategic Research Centre, School of Medicine , Deakin University , Geelong , Australia.
2
b Food & Mood Centre, IMPACT Strategic Research Centre, School of Medicine , Deakin University , Geelong , Australia.
3
c Austin Health , Heidelberg , Australia.
4
d Centre for Adolescent Health , Murdoch Children's Research Institute, Royal Children's Hospital , Parkville , Australia.
5
e Geelong Centre for Emerging Infectious Disease, Barwon Health , Geelong , Australia.
6
f School of Medicine , Deakin University , Geelong , Australia.
7
g The Department of Psychiatry and the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health Department , The Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health, The University of Melbourne , Orygen , Australia.
8
h Environmental & Genetic Epidemiology Research , Murdoch Children's Research Institute, Royal Children's Hospital , Parkville , Australia.

Abstract

Mental disorders including depression and anxiety are often comorbid with gut problems, suggesting a bidirectional relationship between mental health and gut function. Several mechanisms might explain this comorbidity, such as inflammation and immune activation; intestinal permeability; perturbations in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis; neurotransmitter/neuropeptide dysregulation; dietary deficiencies; and disturbed gut microbiome composition. The potential of modulating the microbiome-gut-brain axis, and subsequently mental health, through the use of functional foods, is an emerging and novel topic of interest. Fermented foods are considered functional foods due to their putative health benefits. The process of microbial fermentation converts food substrates into more nutritionally and functionally rich products, resulting in functional microorganisms (probiotics), substrates that enhance proliferation of beneficial bacteria in the gut (prebiotics), and bioactive components (biogenics). These functional ingredients act biologically in the gastrointestinal tract and have the ability to modify the gut microbiota, influence translocation of endotoxins and subsequent immune activation, and promote host nutrition. This narrative review explores the theoretical potential of the functional components present in fermented foods to alter gut physiology and to impact the biological mechanisms thought to underpin depression and anxiety. Pre-clinical studies indicate the benefits of fermented foods in relieving perturbed gut function and for animal models of depression and anxiety. However, in humans, the literature relating to the relevance of fermented food for treating or preventing depression and anxiety is sparse, heterogeneous and has significant limitations. This review identifies a critical research gap for further evaluation of fermented foods in the management of depression anxiety in humans.

KEYWORDS:

anxiety; biogenics; depression; fermented foods; gut health; prebiotics; probiotics

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