Dr Amanda Rodríguez presents her book 'Siente lo que comes', in which she analyses the impact of the microbiota on mental health

La Dra. Amanda Rodríguez, psiquiatra del Servei de Salut Mental de Vall d’Hebron, explica que una microbiota variada és fonamental en la salut mental de les persones.

05/04/2022

The book, published by the Diana publishing house which is part of the Planeta Group, aims to raise awareness of the intimate relationship that exists between the human brain and the microbiota, which is the set of bacteria that live in our intestine. Until recently, communication between brain and intestine was thought to be unidirectional: from the former to the latter. But as Dr Amanda Rodríguez, a psychiatrist of the Mental Health Department at Vall d’Hebron University Hospital and member of the Psychiatry, Mental Health and Addictions research group at the Vall d’Hebron Research Institute (VHIR) argues in her book, “the microbiota also has an impact on our mental health”.

During the presentation of her book, Dr Amanda Rodríguez was accompanied by Dr José Manuel Domínguez, deputy director of care, Dr Josep Antoni Ramos-Quiroga, head of the Mental Health Department and head of the Psychiatry, Mental Health and Addictions research group at the VHIR, and Dr Javier Santos of the Digestive System Department and principal investigator of the Physiology and Digestive Physiopathology research group at the VHIR.

Dr José Manuel Domínguez opened the event by congratulating Dr Amanda Rodríguez on her book, describing it as “a great contribution which shows that food is very important for our health and proves that we have to pay close attention to what we eat”.

For his part, Dr Josep Antoni Ramos-Quiroga stated that Dr Amanda Rodríguez “has had the courage to pen a series of reflections on the type of relationship we should maintain with our patients, the relationship that exists between the intestine and the brain through neuronal contacts and the ways in which the microbiota affects our lives”. He also assured that “the book is very well edited, easy to read and a good example of the knowledge that we have acquired over the last few years”.

Dr Javier Santos congratulated Dr Amanda Rodríguez for the book, saying “this is a book that I highly recommend, as it has a message aimed at all patients. Namely, that we give them the tools but they need to be ultimately responsible for their own health”.

Dr Amanda Rodríguez explained that it is essential to “abandon the compartmentalisation of medicine; the idea that mind and body are separate entities. We now know that the brain-intestine axis plays an essential role in people’s mental health”. In this regard, she adds that “you have to take care of your diet in order to take care of your microbiota. You don't have to eat well just to avoid putting on weight. You have to do so to have good mental health”.

The influence of the microbiota on people’s mental health is down to “psychobiotics, basically bifidobacteria and lactobacillus, which are living substances that make up our microbiota and which, when consumed in adequate quantities, help to improve our mental health”, adds Dr Amanda Rodríguez.

Furthermore, studies have confirmed that there is a link between microbiota and depression. “We know that the microbiota of depressed people is not the same as that of people with good mental health. For years now, the WHO has been recommending the use of probiotics for the treatment of depression. There are also studies that promote the use of psychobiotics in conjunction with antidepressant therapy for the treatment of depressive disorder", Dr Amanda Rodríguez.

Regarding the most appropriate diet to keep the microbiota in a good condition, Dr Amanda Rodríguez recommends “following a balanced diet, such as the Mediterranean diet. There are no magic formulas. We also recommend exercising, avoiding social isolation and maintaining human relationships”.

Dr Amanda Rodriguez is also participating on the European H2020 DISCOvERIE project, which involves more than 19 research centres in Europe and the United States and postulates that disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia, anxiety and depression share the same altered brain-intestine mechanisms. The aim of the project is to identify diagnostic biomarkers for these diseases and to develop further novel and efficient predictive and therapeutic strategies. This project is being coordinated by Dr Javier Santos and Dr Josep Antoni Ramos-Quiroga.

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