What is the Psychobiotic diet?

Dr Maliha Malik 02:13 PM, 14 Nov, 2022
What is the Psychobiotic diet?

A study published in Molecular Psychiatry has proved the famous saying ‘You are what you eat”, true. According to the study conducted by Dr John F Cryan, professor and chair of the Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience and principal investigator in the APC Microbiome Institute at University College Cork, Ireland, the study explores the stress responses in mice models as a result of certain food groups present in the diet.

“Mice that grow up without microbes have an exaggerated stress response, and certain strains of bacteria can alleviate stress in mice models,” said Dr Cryan

Previous studies have proved that the gut microbiome can have a significant impact on stress levels. However, this study explores the hypothesis of whether changing the diet can alter the stress levels in humans

The microbiome comprises of both good and bad bacteria in the body, the balance between the two is essential to maintain good health in humans.

The Vagus nerve creates a direct link between the digestive system and the brain. Damage to the Vagus nerve has caused a delay in emptying of the stomach and therefore, affecting the digestive system as well as inducing anxiety, and depression.

The Study

The participants of this study included those between the ages of 18 to 59 years. These participants were given a ‘Psychobiotic” diet, a term , as coined by Dr Cryan’s team, is a diet that encourages the maintenance of a microbiome that will in turn improve the mental health of those practicing such dietary restrictions.

A Psychotiotic Diet includes:

·       6-8 servings of green leafy vegetables and fruits such as cabbage, apple, bananas and oats

·       5 -8 servings of grains

·       2 -3 servings of fermented foods (kefir, kombucha)

·       3-4 servings of legumes 


The study exhibited an improvement in sleep quality and reduced stress levels in the participants that followed this diet 

The study showed that the gut microbiome is dependent on foods that encourage the release of serotonin in the body, which will eventually produce melatonin and allow for regulation of sleep ad cardiac rhythm.

“If we do not produce enough serotonin due to an imbalanced gut microbiome, we will have decreased melatonin production, resulting in impaired sleep patterns,” explained one of the researchers in the study

Dr Cryan said that while this study gave conclusive results, his new goal to conduct further studies to determine whether fiber is better to produce the accurate balance of gut microbiome or fermented foods. The study will provide the further insight into the advantages of following a Psychobiotic diet.

Dr Maliha Malik

The author is Sub Editor at Medical News Pakistan and can be reached at



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