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1.  Fermented foods, microbiota, and mental health: ancient practice meets nutritional psychiatry 
The purposeful application of fermentation in food and beverage preparation, as a means to provide palatability, nutritional value, preservative, and medicinal properties, is an ancient practice. Fermented foods and beverages continue to make a significant contribution to the overall patterns of traditional dietary practices. As our knowledge of the human microbiome increases, including its connection to mental health (for example, anxiety and depression), it is becoming increasingly clear that there are untold connections between our resident microbes and many aspects of physiology. Of relevance to this research are new findings concerning the ways in which fermentation alters dietary items pre-consumption, and in turn, the ways in which fermentation-enriched chemicals (for example, lactoferrin, bioactive peptides) and newly formed phytochemicals (for example, unique flavonoids) may act upon our own intestinal microbiota profile. Here, we argue that the consumption of fermented foods may be particularly relevant to the emerging research linking traditional dietary practices and positive mental health. The extent to which traditional dietary items may mitigate inflammation and oxidative stress may be controlled, at least to some degree, by microbiota. It is our contention that properly controlled fermentation may often amplify the specific nutrient and phytochemical content of foods, the ultimate value of which may associated with mental health; furthermore, we also argue that the microbes (for example, Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria species) associated with fermented foods may also influence brain health via direct and indirect pathways.
doi:10.1186/1880-6805-33-2
PMCID: PMC3904694  PMID: 24422720
2.  Intestinal microbiota, probiotics and mental health: from Metchnikoff to modern advances: Part I – autointoxication revisited 
Gut Pathogens  2013;5:5.
Mental health disorders, depression in particular, have been described as a global epidemic. Research suggests that a variety of lifestyle and environmental changes may be driving at least some portion of the increased prevalence. One area of flourishing research involves the relationship between the intestinal microbiota (as well as the related functional integrity of the gastrointestinal tract) and mental health. In order to appreciate the recent scientific gains in this area, and its potential future directions, it is critical to review the history of the topic. Probiotic administration (e.g. Lactobacillus) and fecal microbiota transfer for conditions associated with depression and anxiety is not a new concept. Here, in the first of a 3-part series, we begin by reviewing the origins of the contemporary research, providing a critical appraisal of what has become a revisionist history of the controversial term ‘autointoxication’. We argue that legitimate interests in the gut-brain-microbiota connection were obscured for decades by its association with a narrow historical legacy. Historical perspectives provide a very meaningful context to the current state of the contemporary research as outlined in parts II and III.
doi:10.1186/1757-4749-5-5
PMCID: PMC3607857  PMID: 23506618
Intestinal microbiota; Autointoxication; Depression; Anxiety; Probiotics; Microbial ecology; Lipopolysaccharide endotoxin; Diet; Intestinal permeability
3.  Intestinal microbiota, probiotics and mental health: from Metchnikoff to modern advances: part III – convergence toward clinical trials 
Gut Pathogens  2013;5:4.
Rapid scientific and technological advances have allowed for a more detailed understanding of the relevance of intestinal microbiota, and the entire body-wide microbiome, to human health and well-being. Rodent studies have provided suggestive evidence that probiotics (e.g. lactobacillus and bifidobacteria) can influence behavior. More importantly, emerging clinical studies indicate that the administration of beneficial microbes, via supplementation and/or fecal microbial transplant (FMT), can influence end-points related to mood state (glycemic control, oxidative status, uremic toxins), brain function (functional magnetic resonance imaging fMRI), and mental outlook (depression, anxiety). However, despite the advances in the area of gastro-biological psychiatry, it becomes clear that there remains an urgent need to explore the value of beneficial microbes in controlled clinical investigations. With the history explored in this series, it is fair to ask if we are now on the cusp of major clinical breakthroughs, or are we merely in the quicksand of Autointoxication II?
doi:10.1186/1757-4749-5-4
PMCID: PMC3605358  PMID: 23497650
Intestinal microbiota; Autointoxication; Depression; Anxiety; Probiotics; Microbial ecology; Lipopolysaccharide endotoxin; Diet; Intestinal permeability; MMP-9; Microbial ecosystems
4.  Intestinal microbiota, probiotics and mental health: from Metchnikoff to modern advances: Part II – contemporary contextual research 
Gut Pathogens  2013;5:3.
In recent years there has been a renewed interest concerning the ways in which the gastrointestinal tract – its functional integrity and microbial residents – might influence human mood (e.g. depression) and behavioral disorders. Once a hotbed of scientific interest in the early 20th century, this area lay dormant for decades, in part due to its association with the controversial term ‘autointoxication’. Here we review contemporary findings related to intestinal permeability, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, lipopolysaccharide endotoxin (LPS) exposure, D-lactic acid, propionic acid, and discuss their relevance to microbiota and mental health. In addition, we include the context of modern dietary habits as they relate to depression, anxiety and their potential interaction with intestinal microbiota.
doi:10.1186/1757-4749-5-3
PMCID: PMC3601973  PMID: 23497633
Intestinal microbiota; Autointoxication; Depression; Anxiety; Probiotics; Microbial ecology; Lipopolysaccharide endotoxin; Diet; Intestinal permeability; Microbial ecosystems
5.  Vis Medicatrix naturae: does nature "minister to the mind"? 
The healing power of nature, vis medicatrix naturae, has traditionally been defined as an internal healing response designed to restore health. Almost a century ago, famed biologist Sir John Arthur Thomson provided an additional interpretation of the word nature within the context of vis medicatrix, defining it instead as the natural, non-built external environment. He maintained that the healing power of nature is also that associated with mindful contact with the animate and inanimate natural portions of the outdoor environment. A century on, excessive screen-based media consumption, so-called screen time, may be a driving force in masking awareness of the potential benefits of nature. With global environmental concerns, rapid urban expansion, and mental health disorders at crisis levels, diminished nature contact may not be without consequence to the health of the individual and the planet itself. In the context of emerging research, we will re-examine Sir J. Arthur Thomson's contention that the healing power of the nature-based environment - green space, forests and parks in particular - extends into the realm of mental health and vitality.
doi:10.1186/1751-0759-6-11
PMCID: PMC3353853  PMID: 22472137

Results 1-5 (5)