What can your poo tell you about your mental health?

Let’s face it: pooing isn’t the most pleasant of topics but everyone does it and it’s relevant to all of us. The subject of whether we’re regular or not and what that means for our overall health is often something we think about.

But now there has been another interesting link between our number-twos and our health, however it isn’t our physical health in question… it’s our mental health.

If you are depressed, there is a higher likelihood that you have a lack of antibiotic resistance in your stool, meaning it’s more difficult to treat infections.

Scientists at the Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre Biosciences Institute at University College Cork discovered that the mix of bacteria in your gut could have a direct effect on your mood.

Professor Ted Dinan and Professor John Cryan decided to test this by organising the first study to investigate whether depression can in some way be transmitted through gut bacteria.

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The results were astonishing, with Professor Dinan finding brain function in humans was “very much dependent” on the products from the gut bacteria.

“There are fundamental differences in the microbiota of depressed and non-depressed people”, he said.

In the study, rats’ microbiota was cleared using antibiotics and then a faecal transplant was given from a human donor with clinical depression.

The otherwise healthy rats began to show sings of depression, experiencing anxiety, weight loss and fatigue, much like human sufferers of the condition.

While tests are ongoing, these early findings have been very valuable to clinicians who administer faecal transplants.

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If the research proves conclusive in later testing, those who offer their faeces for faecal transplants may need to be screened for depression and other mental disorders before donating.

In case you were wondering about faecal transplantation, it is a newer type of treatment and can help ward off stubborn bacteria. The recipient benefits from the billions of useful bacteria that are in our lower digestive tracts and it has proven to be highly effective.

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