The concept of the gut-brain axis has recently emerged, and it is increasingly accepted that the gut microbiota play an important role in communicating with our brain and regulating mood, including anxiety and depression (Cryan JF et al). Disruptions in the gut microbiota, along with important interrelated dynamics of dysregulated stress and immunity, may be converging to influence the development of depression (Cruz-Pereira JS et al).

Can diet impact the gut microbiota to influence the gut-brain axis and subsequently our mental health? Increasing data suggest that indeed it does, with diet playing a central role in our brain function, mood, and mental well-being (Adan RAH et al). The recognized role of diet in shaping the gut microbiota is changing the available approaches that can be taken to improve a number of health conditions (Hills RD Jr et al), including depression (Duarte-Silva E et al) and anxiety (Norwitz NG and Naidoo U), as pro-inflammatory diets are associated with poor mental health (Chen G. et al). Although more research is needed to fully evaluate the effects of nutrition on mental health, the emerging field of nutritional psychiatry is taking the lead in utilizing dietary interventions to improve mental health. Nutritional therapy may offer an attractive additional therapeutic option for IBD given the potential dual benefit of improving both the underlying condition of IBD and mental health.

Further Reading:

Nutrition as Metabolic Treatment for Anxiety

Summary Excerpt: A complementary approach to medicating symptoms is to address the underlying metabolic pathologies associated with mental illnesses and anxiety. This may be achieved through nutritional interventions. In this perspectives piece, we highlight the roles of the microbiome and inflammation as influencers of anxiety.

Front Psychiatry . 2021 Feb 12;12:598119. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2021.598119. eCollection 2021.
Norwitz NG and Naidoo U

Depression's Unholy Trinity: Dysregulated Stress, Immunity, and the Microbiome

Summary Excerpt: In this review, we integrate the available data from animal and human studies on these three factors in the etiology and progression of depression. We also focus on the processes by which this microbiota-immune-stress matrix may influence centrally mediated events and on possible therapeutic interventions to correct imbalances in this triune.

Annu Rev Psychol . 2020 Jan 4;71:49-78. doi: 10.1146/annurev-psych-122216-011613.
Cruz-Pereira JS et al

Nutritional Psychiatry: Towards Improving Mental Health by What You Eat

Summary Excerpt: Here, we provide an overview of the emerging field of nutritional psychiatry, exploring the scientific evidence exemplifying the importance of a well-balanced diet for mental health.

Eur Neuropsychopharmacol . 2019 Dec;29(12):1321-1332.
Adan RAH et al

The Microbiota-Gut-Brain Axis

Summary Excerpt: The importance of the gut-brain axis in maintaining homeostasis has long been appreciated. However, the past 15 yr have seen the emergence of the microbiota (the trillions of microorganisms within and on our bodies) as one of the key regulators of gut-brain function and has led to the appreciation of the importance of a distinct microbiota-gut-brain axis. This axis is gaining ever more traction in fields investigating the biological and physiological basis of psychiatric, neurodevelopmental, age-related, and neurodegenerative disorders.

Physiol Rev . 2019 Oct 1;99(4):1877-2013. doi: 10.1152/physrev.00018.2018.
Cryan JF et al


Nutritional Therapy for IBD

Improving the Care of Patients with Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis through Diet