Yogurt Bacteria Can Treat Depression

Category : Health

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. exhibit / ɪgˈzɪb ɪt / (v) – to show

    The student exhibited signs of stress.

  2. mood / mud / (n) – an emotional state

    Drinking coffee always puts her in a good mood.

  3. correlation / ˌkɔr əˈleɪ ʃən / (n) – a relationship between two things

    Researchers found a correlation between stress levels and physical health.

  4. boost / bust / (v) – to lift

    Eating ice cream boosts my happiness.

  5. fermented / fɜr mɛnt tɪd / (adj) – undergoing chemical change

    Yogurt is a fermented product.


Read the text below.

Researchers have found that bacteria in yogurt could treat depression.

As part of a series of studies, researchers from the University of Virginia (UVA) examined the effects of yogurt bacteria or lactobacilli /ˌlæk toʊ bəˈsɪ laɪ / on mental health through an experiment using mice. After being exposed to stressful environments, the mice were found to exhibit behavior associated with depression. As a result, the mice developed higher levels of a chemical called kynurenine /ˌ kaɪn yu̇ ˈrenˌ ɪn /, which is linked to low moods.

The researchers compared the amount of bacteria inside the mice’s body and found a significant drop in lactobacilli levels after the mice showed signs of depression. However, Dr. Gaultier of UVA’s Department of Neuroscience was cautious in describing the symptoms as “depressive” since mice are incapable of expressing emotions.

The finding suggests a correlation between lactobacilli and kynurenine. As the levels of kynurenine increased, the lactobacilli in the mice’s body decreased. To reverse this effect, the mice were given lactobacilli supplements, which enabled them to recover from symptoms of depression. The researchers then concluded that lactobacilli can help improve one’s mood.

Apart from yogurt, there are other food products that can boost one’s mood. These include fermented products such as sauerkraut / ˈsaʊərˌkraʊt /, kimchi, pickles, and kombucha tea. Comfort food such as dark chocolate can also result in a positive mood through the production of endorphins, or chemicals that stimulate feelings of pleasure, and serotonin, an anti-depressant. Although individuals diagnosed with depression may consume products such as yogurt, experts still recommend taking medications and having regular consultations with physicians.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• How does food affect people’s moods?
• How do moods affect how people eat?

Discussion B

• Aside from food, what other things can affect people’s moods?
• What can you do to improve your friend’s or family member’s mood?

Category : Health