Interactions between bacteria and fungi are ubiquitous. One environment where these interkingdom interactions are crucial for maintaining human health is the vaginal microbiome. A decline in abundance of bacteria can lead to overgrowth of fungi such as Candida albicans, which occurs in ~75% of healthy women at least once in their lifetime. This imbalance is associated with significant economic costs and has a negative impact on quality of life.
In recent years, there has been a growing interest in the role the gut plays in our overall health and wellbeing. Changes to this gut microbial population has been linked a host of disorders, ranging from metabolic disorders such as diabetes and obesity to mental disorders such as depression and anxiety. Depending on lifestyle factors, diet, antibiotic use and age, certain populations can be at a greater risk of microbial imbalances. In order against such conditions, probiotics are used as therapeutic agents.
Recent evidence shows there is extensive and direct communication between the brain and gastrointestinal tract, where nutrients are absorbed, and that intestinal microbiota have a role in healthy brain function. This study aims to look at the effects of probiotics, live bacteria that inhabit the gut and can help improve your health, on the mood, cognition, and sleep of depressed patients.
Dr. Potter has recently begun exploring the impact that probiotics (beneficial bacteria found in some food sources such as probiotic yogurt and kefir) have on anxiety and depression. Other researchers have shown that probiotic bacteria exert a significant effect on anxiety and depression-like behaviours in animals. A few studies have extended these findings to humans. Lallemand Health Solutions is an innovative company that produces probiotics for human consumption, and has recently developed a technique to microencapsulate or coat the probiotic bacteria to help them survive stomach acids.