For the first time, a population-based study has shown a link between gut bacteria and mental health, providing the strongest support to date that microbiota can influence mood, investigators note.

“The notion that microbial metabolites can interact with our brain — and thus behavior and feelings — is intriguing, but gut microbiome-brain communication has mostly been explored in animal models, with human research lagging behind,” Jeroen Raes, PhD, from University of Leuven and VIB Center for Microbiology, Belgium, said in a news release.

“In our population-level study we identified several groups of bacteria that co-varied with human depression and quality of life across populations,” said Raes.

The study was published online February 4 in Nature Microbiology.

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