The Role of Beneficial Bacteria in Mental Health

By June Rousso | June Rousso, Ph.D. | March 19, 2015


More and more research is focusing on the role of beneficial bacteria in the intestinal tract and mental health. Beneficial bacteria help the body function in different ways, including our supporting our emotional well-being, in contrast to bad bacteria such as E.coli and Clostridium difficile, which can make us ill.

Traditionally, studies have focused on the role of beneficial bacteria in digestion and immune health. Good bacteria digest and extract nutrients from the food we eat, and can synthesize certain nutrients, such as vitamin K and vitamin B12. Vitamin K helps our blood to clot and plays a role in bone health while vitamin B12 is involved in energy production, nervous system functioning, and the formation of red blood cells. Good bacteria also line our gut to fight off pathogens and thus reduce our risk of illness. They actually secrete chemicals to fight off microbes entering our body. Our gut truly has an intelligence of its own and has become known as our “second brain.”