It's well known that people suffering from type-2 Diabetes often struggle with anxiety and depression. However, despite constant conjecturing by physicians and specialists, the cause of these feelings had remained largely disputed. Until now. Researchers at the Joslin Diabetes Center may have discovered the true cause of the depression and anxiety that diabetic patients experience. According to the report the Center published, when mice were given high-fat diets, they experienced higher levels of depression and anxiety than their leaner counterparts. Furthermore, when mice with no gut bacteria were given the bacteria from mice with high fat diets, they too showed signs of higher anxiety and depression, despite not having eaten the high-fat diet.
The purpose of the bacterial microbiome in this situation had a special purpose, according to C. Ronald Kahn, M.D., co-Head of the Section on Integrative Physiology and Metabolism at Joslin and the Mary K. Iacocca Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Kahn stated that because the levels of anxiety and depression spiked in mice that had received the gut bacteria of high-fat mice and nothing else, the gut microbiome controlled and/or affected in some way the functions and actions of the hypothalamus and nucleus accumbens, structures in the brain that control mood, metabolism, and behavior.
The Joslin research group was able to link the gut microbiome in the mice to the production and regulation of certain neurotransmitters, proving that the state of the gut microbiome in some way controlled and influenced the actions of the brain and mood regulation.
So how were scientists able to recalibrate the moods of the mice?
One word: Antibiotics.
When Dr. Kahn and his team gave the depressed/anxious mice antibiotics, their moods returned back to normal.
Currently Dr. Kahn is working with his colleagues to try and pinpoint the exact groups of bacteria in the gut that are causing these mood swings, in hopes of being able to one day develop drugs or supplements to try and alter the bacteria or replace harmful bacteria so that the mice may experience better moods despite their diet.
Regardless of the success that those studies bring, one thing remains clear: the bacteria in our gut are more powerful than we think; eating a healthy diet and staying active isn't just about keeping our bodies healthy, but our minds as well.