The list of athletes who have contended with depression may surprise you: the NFL’s Terry Bradshaw, hockey player Dan Carcillo, NBA star Larry Sanders and the list goes on and on. Clearly, being a sports pro doesn’t protect you from the mental health challenges of depression.

But, it turns out that probiotics might do just that! A new study published in BMJ Nutrition Prevention & Health looked at research on the two-way relationship between your brain and digestive tract — the gut-brain axis — and found that getting a regular dose of probiotics such as Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei and Bifidobacterium bifidum is linked to significant reduction in symptoms of depression.


The researchers also found that depressive symptoms were reduced when probiotics were combined with a robust supply of prebiotics. Those are foods such as leeks, asparagus, onions, garlic, chicory, soybeans and Jerusalem artichokes, and whole grains that feed good-for-you microbes in your gut (probiotics).

Major and persistent depression affect around 20 million American adults, and unfortunately medications fail to sustain improvement for between 40% and 60% of folks who take them. Adding in talk therapy can increase relief. And now, probiotics and prebiotics offer you one more way to manage symptoms. So if you’re blue, talk to your doctor, call a helpline (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration at 800-662-4357 or National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273- 8255), and do some shopping for gut-loving groceries and probiotics that make it through your stomach acid, like Culturelle and Digestive Advantage do.