While depression was long characterized as “chemical imbalance” in the brain, scientists have since found out that it’s much more complicated than that.
The theory of chemical imbalances helps us understand depression, but it doesn’t explain the underlying cause. Instead, scientists believe that it occurs due to a number of factors, including inflammation and chronic stress.
What’s more, a recent study suggests that depression and other mood disorders may originate in the gut.
Gut Bacteria: The Friendly And The Deadly
As we speak, there are roughly 400 species of bacteria in your belly right now, not to mention the ones that live on your skin (1).
The genes within these bacteria actually outnumber the ones in all the cells in your body: genomes of the bacteria and viruses of the human gut alone are thought to encode 3.3 million genes (2).
In fact, your gut acts as a protective layer to fight off harmful pathogens that have made their way into your digestive tract before they are absorbed into your bloodstream.
Gut bacteria are so important that they’re even in breast milk, and babies who are bottle-fed are more likely to suffer from allergies and immune problems because they’ve missed out on these essential critters.
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