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Intestinal bacteria produce vitamins, protect us against infectious diseases and train the immune system. But did you know they can also influence your mood and behaviour? Researchers are discovering how bacteria can play a role in our mental health and psychiatric diseases.

A correlation has been established between the gut flora and the brain. We are also starting to see that a disruption of the intestinal flora can play a role in diseases such as autism and depression. The presence of certain bacteria affects your brain and changes your behaviour.

Bacteroides fragilis, for example, is able to correct certain behavioural disorders associated with autism. But because autism manifests itself differently per individual, depending on genetic and environmental factors, Bacteroides fragilis cannot be used as a universal therapy. Its effect would be different for each individual. Even so, the results of these studies may change the way we look at possible causes of and treatments for autism.

Bifidobacterium infantis or the combination of Lactobacillus helveticus and Bifidobacterium longum may have an effect on depression.

And to reduce feelings of anxiety or obsessive-compulsive disorders, Lactobacillus rhamnosus seems to have a positive effect, although it’s not clear yet which exact bacterial strains are able to do so.

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