Probiotics, prebiotics, and placebos: which is more effective?
The idea of a "healthy gut flora" might have gotten you laughed out of the room just five years ago, but they've slowly been more accepted over the years and are now firmly in the mainstream.
Do you take probiotics? The idea of a "healthy gut flora" might have gotten you laughed out of the room just five years ago, but they've slowly become far more accepted and are now firmly in the mainstream. About 1.6% of America (3.7 million people) took them either regularly or semi-regularly in 2017, which is 3 million more than in 2012 according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
As more studies link a healthy gut with a decreased risk of depression, there's a strong chance that number will grow even higher. But are they effective? Well, yes and no. According to Scientific American, if you're already healthy, they'll do very little. But to many (self-included!) they do seem to help you keep regular and keep you happier. Never thought I'd be admitting that out into the internet ether, but there you go.
In a study by the Tehran University of Medical Sciences, 110 depressed patients were given either a probiotic (Lactobacillus helveticus and Bifidobacterium longum), a prebiotic (galactooligosaccharide), or a placebo to take for 8 weeks. Here's what they found:
A total of 81 subjects (aged 36.5 ± 8.03 y; mean (95% CI), 2.27 (1.76-2.93) y of depression duration) completed the trial (28 in the probiotic group, 27 in the prebiotic group, and 26 in the placebo group). From baseline to 8 weeks, probiotic supplementation resulted in a significant decrease in BDI score (17.39-9.1) compared to the placebo (18.18-15.55) and prebiotic (19.72-14.14) supplementation (p = 0.042). Inter-group comparison indicated no significant differences among the groups in terms of serum kynurenine/tryptophan ratio and tryptophan/BCAAs ratio. However, the kynurenine/tryptophan ratio decreased significantly in the probiotic group compared to the placebo group after adjusting for serum isoleucine (p = 0.048). In addition, the tryptophan/isoleucine ratio increased significantly in the probiotic group when compared to the placebo group (p = 0.023).
If you're having trouble deciphering that: researchers found that probiotics actually do work, while prebiotics were only a little more effective than the placebo.
Granted, prebiotics are really supposed to be taken with probiotics, as they enhance their effect. But on their own, they do very little. You could probably save a lot of money by just eating more asparagus, bananas, leeks, or onions, which are loaded with natural prebiotics.
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Is it "perverseness," the "death drive," or something else?
A growing body of research shows promising signs that the keto diet might be able to improve mental health.
- The keto diet is known to be an effective tool for weight loss, however its effects on mental health remain largely unclear.
- Recent studies suggests that the keto diet might be an effective tool for treating depression, and clearing up so-called "brain fog," though scientists caution more research is necessary before it can be recommended as a treatment.
- Any experiments with the keto diet are best done in conjunction with a doctor, considering some people face problems when transitioning to the low-carb diet.
It's up to us humans to re-humanize our world. An economy that prioritizes growth and profits over humanity has led to digital platforms that "strip the topsoil" of human behavior, whole industries, and the planet, giving less and less back. And only we can save us.
- It's an all-hands-on-deck moment in the arc of civilization.
- Everyone has a choice: Do you want to try to earn enough money to insulate yourself from the world you're creating— or do you want to make the world a place you don't have to insulate yourself from?
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