Just a single prescription of antibiotics can disrupt brain cell communication and lead to a higher risk of depression
by: Isabelle Z.
(NaturalNews) The overuse of antibiotics has been heavily criticized for causing the proliferation of drug-resistant superbugs, but few people have drawn a strong connection between this class of drugs and mental health– until now.
Researchers from Tel Aviv University uncovered this surprising link after studying health records of more than a million Brits. Their study, which was published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, found that just a single course of antibiotics boosted a person’s risk of depression by almost 25 percent. Those who took anywhere from two to five rounds of antibiotics actually saw their risk rise by nearly 50 percent. Moreover, antibiotic use was also linked with a higher risk of anxiety.
Healthy gut bacteria has been linked to the growth of new brain cells in the hippocampus, so it makes sense that unhealthy gut bacteria would have the opposite effect.
Psychiatrist and lead researcher Dr. Ido Lurie believes that disruptions to the balance of gut bacteria caused by antibiotics negatively affect the way that the brain’s cells communicate with one another. He said: “This is the first population-based study that demonstrates an association between exposure to antibiotics and risk for depression and anxiety.”
Evidence of antibiotics’ effects on the brain piles up
Another recent study, this one published in the journal Cell Reports, showed that mice who were given strong doses of antibiotics that cleared out their gut bacteria performed worse on memory tests than those who did not receive antibiotics. In addition, brain cell growth losses were noted in the hippocampus of these mice. They also had a lower number of Ly6Chi white blood cells, which can help keep inflammation at bay – something that is also linked to depression.
The good news is that this phenomenon appears to be reversible. Restoring the mice’s levels of Ly6Chi improved their memory and brain cell growth.
Killing off friendly gut bacteria is bad enough on its own, but a University of California study shows that antibiotics also help promote the growth of bad bacteria like salmonella by boosting oxygen levels.
If you want to avoid deadly superbugs, depression and anxiety, the best course of action is to avoid antibiotics unless they are truly necessary. Immunologist Professor Simon Carding of the UK Institute of Food Research’s Gut Health Programme said: “An incredible number are given to children, even before they go to school. That can have a severe impact on good microbes in the gut — and that can cause a lifetime of physical and psychological problems.”
The long-term gut damage caused by a single dose of antibiotics can also leave people vulnerable to vitamin deficiencies, gut inflammation, infection, obesity and food allergies.
Fermented foods, probiotics can help
If you’ve taken antibiotics and are concerned about how they might be affecting your body, you can help restore your intestinal flora by eating fermented foods such as kefir, probiotic yogurt and homemade pickles.
Sauerkraut is a particularly good choice because it is rich in plant-based glucosinolates, which have been shown to fight cancer. It is full of probiotic bacteria that help restore your body’s natural flora, improving digestion and strengthening your immune system in the process.
While there is no doubt that antibiotics can sometimes be life savers in cases of severe infection, some doctors are far too quick to prescribe them even when they are not truly needed, thanks partly to the promotional efforts of pharmaceutical companies.
Eating a healthy diet is also recommended, because the fiber found in organic fruits and vegetables is beneficial for gut bacteria.