The Psychobiotic Revolution: Mood, Food, and the New Science of the Gut-Brain Connection

Scott C. Anderson, with John F. Cryan and Ted Dinan. National Geographic, $26 (304p) ISBN 978-1-4262-1846-0
Science journalist Anderson and researchers Cryan and Dinan outline the latest in scientific study suggesting that disorders of the body’s microbiota—its community of microorganisms—may be linked to mental-health issues such as anxiety and depression. These microbes, called “psychobiotics,” send messages to the brain via neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin. The researchers favor dietary changes and psychobiotic supplements as ways of restoring the body’s microbiota to healthy levels. Regarding diet, they note that American foods, often processed and high in sugar and white flour, can be very unhealthy for microbiota: “Our evolutionary history... didn’t prime us for glazed doughnuts.” In a handy guide format, the authors list a variety of medical conditions, including Crohn’s disease, diabetes, and even autism spectrum disorders, annotating which psychobiotics might be effective in treating each. In addition, they instruct readers in reading and understanding psychobiotic-supplement labels and list the brands that have undergone rigorous testing. This is an accessible guide for a lay audience (though perhaps not for the especially squeamish, who may blanch at this gut-level view of the body) on science that could radically alter the understanding of anxiety and depression, along with a host of other conditions. Agent: Victoria Pryor, Arcadia Literary Agency. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 08/21/2017
Release date: 11/07/2017
Genre: Nonfiction
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