Table of Contents  
ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2021  |  Volume : 53  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 22-30

Bhagvad Gita, gut microbiota, and mental health


Department of Psychiatry, Hospital for Mental Health, Karelibaug, Vadodara, Gujarat, India

Date of Submission03-Dec-2020
Date of Decision16-Apr-2021
Date of Acceptance08-Jun-2021
Date of Web Publication21-Jul-2021

Correspondence Address:
Hitesh Chandrakant Sheth
Department of Psychiatry, Hospital for Mental Health, Opp. JivanBharti School, Karelibaug, Vadodara - 390 018, Gujarat
India
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DOI: 10.4103/ym.ym_24_20

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  Abstract 


There is a mysterious relationship between the diet and human behavior, which is reflected in the writings of many ancient scientists and philosophers and the same thing is also echoed in day-to-day conversations of many cultures, interspersed with nuggets of ancient wisdom. However, it is hard to find a standard classification in the modern science that links different diets to various human behavioral patterns. The recent research shows that, although gut microbiota residing in a human body influences its physical health and mental health, their diversity can be influenced by human dietary patterns. Thus, along with the medicine, diet too has emerged as a key player in the regulation of our physical and mental health. Therefore, dietary modification along with necessary medicines may be recommended for the management of various physical and mental disorders.

Keywords: Diet, mental health, microbiota, psychiatry, psychology, Srimad Bhagvad Gita


How to cite this article:
Sheth HC. Bhagvad Gita, gut microbiota, and mental health. Yoga Mimamsa 2021;53:22-30

How to cite this URL:
Sheth HC. Bhagvad Gita, gut microbiota, and mental health. Yoga Mimamsa [serial online] 2021 [cited 2021 Aug 6];53:22-30. Available from: https://www.ym-kdham.in/text.asp?2021/53/1/22/322046




  Introduction Top


In modern times, many psychiatrists, psychologists, and social scientists gave various classifications of personalities to explain the normal as well as abnormal behavior of human beings. However, there are very few if any classifications that give clues or hints about the relationships between dietary preferences and corresponding behavioral patterns in human beings. It was known that gut microbiota plays a role in the type of food a body digests and absorbs, but recently, it has been found that it also plays a role in the choice of food; we want to eat or avoid. In addition, while playing a significant role in various illnesses (from physical illness such as diabetes to mental illness like autism), it also plays a role in determining our so-called volitional behaviors, thoughts, and types of feeling our minds experience, making the gut an important contributor to our thoughts and feelings (gut feelings). Although gut microbiota seems to play a major role in physical and mental health, they too can be modulated by diet, making a diet an important player as well as a remedial measure in the management of physical as well as mental ailments of human beings. In ancient Indian scripture “Srimad Bhagavad Gita” as well as in ancient Western literature and also in the Indian traditional medicinal system, “Ayurveda”, there are not only the oblique hints about some agent mediating a relationship between the diet and human behaviour but also the hints to modulate human behavior by changing the diet.


  Food, Thoughts, and Food for Thoughts Top


In ancient India, food was considered a divine gift and was revered as an aspect of God or Annam Brahma),or alternatively, it was considered a medicine itself , and it was said that if one does not eat food as medicine then one might need to eat medicine as food. Hippocrates, who realized the importance of diet in health, averred that gut that digests the food is origin of all diseases. Indeed, the diet we take is one of the important causes of disease (physical and mental), so by correcting it, we not only eliminate the fundamental cause of disease but also clear out the unconscious habits that sustain our mental unrest (Frawley, 2004).

The ancient Greek who believed that mental disorders occur when digestive system produce too much black bile, to indirectly suggest the role of gastrointestinal system and its toxin producing occupants, in the pathology of mental and physical diseases. The same thing is said in a different way by Ayurveda that says that toxins ( or ama) produced by poor digestion of food, acts as a fertilizer for parasites and encourage them to thrive and produced variety of physical and mental diseases in the organism (Svoboda, 2011).

Therefore, diet is as important to psychiatry as it is to other medical specialties, because diet and its constituents such as nutrients, vitamins, and minerals, influence mental health by affecting the production of neurotransmitters (Sarris et al., 2015).


  Nutritional Psychiatry, Nutrigenomics, and Nutrimiromics Top


The human dietary intake is a language and a means of communication with our DNA. Nutritional psychiatry is a nascent branch of psychiatry that focuses on how diet and nutrition affect the mental health as well as the development of various psychiatric diseases ranging from depression to autism (Jacka, 2017). Food is also information and a branch of nutrigenomic studies, how information embedded within the food and its nutrients interacts with the human genome and subsequently affects the gene expression and thereby our physical and mental health (Cominetti, Horst, & Rogero, 2017). Nutrimiromics is a branch that studies, how the small noncoding RNA molecules known as microRNAs (miRNAs) found in food, influence the modification of genes and subsequently the development of physical and mental diseases (Quintanilha, Reis, Duarte, Cozzolino, & Rogero, 2017).

Food, we take is thought to breakdown during the processes of digestion into the building blocks for our body to absorb and assimilate it, but miRNAs escaped this processes to cross the intestinal lining and are transported intact from the food directly to our blood stream, and subsequently, they act not only as epigenetic agent (regulating 60% of protein coding genes), but also as the neuroprotectors (e.g., in Alzheimer's disease and autism) and therapeutic agents (e.g., supplementation of miRNAs-132 in Alzheimer disease and other tauopathies (Basak, Patil, Alves, Larsen, & Moller, 2016; Zhang et al., 2012; Li, Xu & Li, 2018; Huang et al., 2011; El Fatimy et al., 2018).

Therefore, food we eat not only provides nourishment to us but miRNAs from the food also act as neuroprotectors and therapeutic agents, putting food almost on the altar of medicine.


  Psychobiome, Psychobiotics, and Psychiatry Top


Every inner and outer surface of a micro-universe of the human body is colonized by the galaxies of dynamic and diverse microbial community called the microbiome or microbiota, composed of bacteria, archaea (a single cell organism without nuclei) and eukarya (organism whose cells have a nucleus), fungi, and virus. The microbiome lining the inner surface of the gut is known as “Gut Microbiome” that digests food, produces various vitamins and neurochemicals, modulates immunity, affects most of our physiological and psychological functions directly or indirectly, and also play a role in various diseases, ranging from physical disease like diabetes to psychiatric conditions such as depression, anxiety, autism, schizophrenia, ADHD, and Alzheimer disease. From a psychiatric point of view, microbiomes that profoundly affect the brain and various aspects of behavior can be called psychobiome; similarly, the probiotics that affect the functions of mind can be called psychobiotics (Matarazzo, Toniato, & Robuffo, 2018; Dinan, Stanton, & Cryan, 2013).

The microbiota known as commensal (derived from the Latin words, which means eating together at the same table) bacteria, dine with us (oral microbiota), dine through us (gut microbiota), and also dine for us. The reason they dine for us is not only for our own survival but also for their own survival, which they ensured it by regulating our appetite and metabolism, as well as by influencing our taste (i.e., sweet, bitter, salty, sour, and umami) through the modulation of signaling mechanisms (Van de Wouw, Schellekens, Dinan, & Cryan, 2017). This modulation or manipulation of host behavior is principally done by hijacking Vagus nerve, which connects the “reward neurons” in the gut to the “rewards neurons” in the brain and releases “dopaminergic happiness” in the brain in response to feeling of satiety that happens after food intake (Han et al., 2018; Cryan et al., 2019). There are different groups of microbiota that are fond of salt, fat, and carbohydrates (Bier et al., 2018; Gonzalez-Rodriguez, Ruiz, Gueimonde, Margolles, & Sanchez, 2013; Wu et al., 2011). Moreover, it is also possible that when such different groups of microbiota want to consume food that contains sugar, fat, and salt at the same time, they may send this message to the brain through Vagus nerve and the brain after going through various algorithms may choose Pizza as the best choice to fulfil microbiota's demands. In other words, in a hotel of body, microbiome is a guest; vagus nerve is a waiter and a brain is a manager. The brain gets order through vagus nerve about the things microbiome wants to eat, and a man feels craving for that particular food. When that particular food is eaten to the satisfaction of the microbiome, it gives “dopaminergic happiness” as a tip through vagus nerve connections in the brain, and a man has feeling of satiety, and consequently, food-seeking behavior for that particular food is reinforced. Amazingly in whole processes sense of freedom of the host is kept intact.

When we say about particular food that that is my favourite food, the right expression would be that is our (me, plus my microbiome) favourite food. Similarly, when we say we are allergic to certain food, in fact it a group of gut microbiota's dislike for certain food that produce allergic reactions and when they are replaced by protective microbioata, it reverses established disease by reinforcing tolerance of food allergens (Abdel-Gadir et al., 2019). Thus, microbiota is a master manipulator that unknowingly uses the principles of behavior therapy like reward and punishment to control our eating behavior by generating craving for the food it prefers and by inducing dysphoria for the food it dislikes, so to enhance its chances of survival (Alcock, Maley, & Aktipis, 2014). The back channel diplomacy between the gut microbiota and the brain has unwritten rule, to make each other (both human host and microbial guest) happy. If the rule is broken by indulging in the unhealthy lifestyle or if there is some extraneous reason that makes gut microbiota dysbiotic (growth of maladaptive and pathogenic microbiota) and melancholic, the microbiota in turn would stop producing happy hormones and human host would turn depressed and gloomy (Dinan & Cryan, 2013). In nutshell, when microbiota are fed up of life for not getting fed a food of their choice, they stop producing happy hormones such as serotonin and dopamine and that may result in men developing depression along with “fed up of life” feeling.

It is possible that acquisition of a new microbe in an experimental animal having a specialized nutrient requirement, may lead to new acquired taste or preference for that food in the host animal (Alcock et al., 2014). If a member of group influences the food preferences of other members of the same group, then any specialist gut microbes adapted to that diet would flourish in other members of the group also, and if the microbiota is obesogenic then the other members of group may develop obesity, contributing the spread of obesity epidemic (Alcock et al., 2014). By extending this logic further, if behavior and personality is controlled by microbes then not only dietary preferences but also the behavior and habits may be contagious in the same company. Moreover, thus came the adage, “men is known by a company he keeps” because in the same company for a long time, he is not only likely to share the signatures of same microbes but also the same food preferences and the same behavioral patterns.


  Master-Microbiota and a Minion Mind Top


The gut microbiome consists of trillions of the microorganism, belonging to at least 4600 different species of various bacteria, which if don't outnumber the human cells, exist at least in a ratio of 1:1 in comparison to the human cells, and possess the microbial genomes which are almost 10 times more than the human genomes (Almeida et al., 2020). What makes us human is our concept of self; however, this concept of self is insufficient without taking account of our microbial selves (Gilbert, 2015). However, with such an overwhelming number of bacteria in a human body along with the additional bacterial components and viral RNAs embedded even in the normal human cells, our concept of the human self would go for a toss, unless we take refuge in Gestalt psychology that says that the whole is more than the sum total of it parts or in other words human self is more than the sum total of its bacterial cells, viral cells, and human cells. Or maybe the microbiome with its constituents' virus and bacteria have jointly guided evolution of the animals and plants, so it can use, abuse, and exploit the environment through them in a systemic way for their benefits. It is also possible that microbiota not only drove the evolution of the gut directly, but as we are farming them, they are farming us too (Velasquez-Manoff, 2015).


  Aliens, Alimentary Canal and Autocracy Top


Gut microbiome (also known as second brain or a virtual organ) weighs 1 kg that is same as the weight of the human brain or sometimes more, directly or indirectly modulate the functions of the enteric nervous system and in processes activates Vagus nerve, which plays a critical role in mediating gut's effects on the brain and subsequently on behavior (Forsythe, Bienenstock, & Kunze, 2014). The neurons of Vagus nerve's form synaptic connection with neuropod cells lining the human gut and relays the signal about gut milieu (including microbial components), to several mood regulating limbic and cortical brain areas and thus regulates mood, memory, and cognitive functions (Kaelberer, Rupprecht, Liu, Weng, & Bohórquez, 2020; Nemeroff et al., 2006; Zhu et al., 2020). However, microbiota do not wait for a host to reach maturity to influence his behavior, but they do it in his infancy itself by affecting the development of his central nervous system, and any alteration in this microbiota-gut-brain axis contributes to the development of neuropsychiatric disorders (Gonzalez-Rodriguez, Ruiz, Gueimonde, Margolles, & Sanchez, 2013; Arentsen et al., 2017). Thus, mood, memory, and cognition that were originally thought to be exclusively regulated by the CNS due to a variety of extrinsic factors are also influenced by microbiota (Miles, Green, & Hines, 2006).

If we are looking for the ancient aliens in the history that modulate and control our behavior, by their role in formation of a brain to influencing our unconscious part of psychic apparatus “id” (instincts such as hunger and sex), they are right under our nose or right there in our gut. The instincts that originate from a somatic apparatus first find the expression in psychical forms in the “id” (Freud, 1940). Moreover, microbiota is a part of somatic apparatus (body plus microbes), thus the gut microbes are part of the unconscious system that regulates human behavior (Dinan, Stilling, Stanton, & Cryan, 2015). That makes microbiota not unlike the mystical force seen in the Star war movies (Sherwin, Sandhu, Dinan, & Cryan, 2016). If someone has bizarre delusion that aliens from Mars are controlling his behavior, his gut feeling is right, but these aliens are planted right inside his guts by the nature and they wield their autocratic rule from alimentary canal itself.

There are the aspects of behavior such as love, affection, and bonding that is controlled by a gut microbial bacteria (Lactobacillus reuteri) through Vagus nerve, which when stimulated activates the neurons in the brain to produce oxytocin that in turn binds to neurons in a pleasure center called ventral tegmental area and activates dopamine rewards system (Sgritta et al., 2018). Lactobacillus reuteri or love bugs up regulate the level of oxytocin hormone (love hormone), thus increases the social bonding with the partner and thus increases chance of reproduction. The level of oxytocin hormone (bonding hormone or cuddle hormone) that control various behaviors such as social recognition, bonding, and maternal behavior, is decreased in autism and enhancement of the same by intravenous administration or consumption of psychobiotics containing Lactobacillus reuteri decreases the repetitive behavior in austistic spectrum disorders (Magon & Kalra, 2011; Varian et al., 2017; Hollander et al., 2003). Thus, men's deterioration in the relationship with gut microbiome may lead to deterioration in his relationship with the outer world because of Lactobacillus reuteri's effect on men's sociability through oxytocin hormone.

Thus, love bugs along with other organisms seem to determine our love handles (by influencing fat metabolism), love feelings (by influencing oxytocin or love hormone), or love life: (by manipulating estrogens, progesterone, testosterone, oxytocin, and physical characteristics) but that's not all, because the infections by a type of intestinal helminths determine the number of progenies we can have in our lifetime (Shin et al., 2019; Blackwell et al., 2015). Beside these, microbiota also arouses love feeling in human beings, that may result in high frequency kissing behavior, and consequently sharing of the same microbiota in couple (Kort, et al., 2014). Practically, a ceremony to exchange the wedding vows can be called a ceremony to exchange, share, and propagate the microbial species, till the death do the couple apart. Although it can be assumed that ultimate goal of gut microbes to influence men's love life might be to create one more human body or a home that can be populated to ensured survival of their species.

However, behavior control of human beings by microbiota does not stop or stoop at this level only, because even the commendable behavior like altruism is attributed to microbiota and their role is suspected in the regulation of qualities such as resilience, optimism, mindfulness, self-regulation and mastery (Lewin-Epstein, Aharonov, & Hadany, 2017; Keefer, 2018). Although one can always ask that if microbiota regulates our mastery over self, can it be called our self-mastery.

Thus, microbiome seems to determine eros (will to live), will to procreate (by playing a role in regulation of hormones such as oxytocin and testosterone) and Thanatos or will to die (by playing a role in the development of depression). Sometimes, men appear as empty shell or zombie, who live, love, earn, socialize, and procreate to serve his master, microbiota.


  Mind, Microbiome, And Metaphysics Top


The effect of diet on mind and behavior is often reflected in popular conversations imbued in ancient wisdom that say a man is what he eats . A recent study has shown that what one eats affect one's body composition, personality, and behavior, as it has been observed that the insects raised on a high-protein diet not only developed a more aggressive attitude but also courted the females aggressively and were psychologically less stable in adulthood compared to those raised on a high-carbohydrate diet (Han & Dingemanse, 2017). Similar study in human beings has shown that diet presumably influences the personality traits by affecting the diversity of gut microbiota; with increasing diversity associated with increasing sociability and decreasing diversity associated with anxiety and stress (Kim et al., 2018; Johnson, 2020).

In Holy Scripture Bhagvad Gita (BG) written approximately 5000 years ago, there are references mentioning the effect of the various diets on human mind. However, this effect is bidirectional means the diet affects the activities of mind and the predisposition of mind affects the preference for food. Here the direct mentioned of a role of some agent mediating the said action is perhaps avoided purposefully, so to convey the core message without adding the unnecessary details. The BG divides the human personality into three types: Sattvic, Rajsic, and Tamasic varieties that would correspond with Peaceful, Passionate, and Procrastinator types of men, respectively. However, in reality, all men would have all the three qualities in different proportions, out of which one quality would take a lead and other two would be subordinate to it. Thus, a Sattvic man would have a bit of Rajsic and Tamsic qualities too and so it would be with a Rajsic man and a Tamsic man.

Sattvic type (Equilibrium or luminous) is pure, peaceful, purposeful, composed, compassionate, modest, empathic, nonviolent, determined, humble, speaks speech that is truthful, beneficial, and pleasant, have mind full of self-control and have predisposition for knowledge and truth. (BG 14:6, 17:15, 17:16) (Sri Swami Sivananda, 1968). Sattvic type would correspond to a personality with temperament dimensions that is high in persistence along with character dimensions that is high in cooperativeness and self-directedness and thus he would be industrious, determined, responsible, purposeful, principled, helpful, empathic, and compassionate (Cloninger, 2003).

He would have natural inclination for food that is healthy, nourishing, and savoury that increases the life, purity, strength, health, joy, and cheerfulness. (BG 17:8) (Sri Swami Sivananda, 1968). Sattvic diets are foods that do not agitate one's stomach and gives physical strength, a good mind, good health, and longevity. The Sattvic diet includes sprouted whole grains, organic fresh fruits, land and sea vegetables, pure fruit juices, nuts, seeds, sprouted seeds, legumes, honey, and herbal teas (Frawley, 2004, p.191). Satvic diet is mostly a cellular diet that is rich in prana (chi) or life force) because it consists of whole cells as opposed to processed foods that consist of acellular nutrients that provides empty calories sans life force and thus causes gut dysbiosis (Spreadbury, 2012).

Cellular plant foods (Sattvic Diet) are likely to make both host and its microbiota happy, because after providing energy and nutrients to the host, the substantial number of cells from the whole plant foods would enter the colon in an intact state , which would be degraded by bacteria to produce beneficial metabolites like short chain fatty acids (SCFA) (Grundy, Lapsley, & Ellis, 2016). In fact a SCFA like butyrate that is found abundantly in butter and additionally, synthesize by the gut microbiota from nondigestible fibers in the colon, is a bread and butter for microbiota because it provides energy not only to host but also to microbiota, and thus affects many functions of the host in a positive way (Stilling, et al. 2016).

Rajsic (Motion or Passionate) type is passionate, restless, impulsive, ostentatious, greedy, arrogant and extroverted, full of hypocrisy, revengeful, aggressive, work for hedonistic pleasure, and has predisposition for the accumulation of excessive wealth (BG, 14:12) (Sri Swami Sivananda, 1968). Rajsic type would correspond to a personality with the temperament dimensions that is high in novelty seeking along with the character dimensions that is low in cooperativeness, thus he would be impulsive, irritable, extravagant, exploratory and would often displays prejudiced and hostile attitude. True to his exploratory nature, he would prefer a food that is spicy, salty, sour, hot, dry, pungent, and burning that is productive of pain grief and disease (BG, 17:9) (Sri Swami Sivananda, 1968). Rajsic diet is the food that when consumed in excess aggravates anger, restlessness, and destroys mind body equilibrium and it includes excessive quantity of food such as pickles, tea and coffee, refined sugar, addictive drugs, and vegetables such as garlic and onion (Frawley, 2004, p. 195). May be the Rajsic diet promotes the growth of dysbiotic microbiota, that make host irritable and aggressive in life (Mondo, et al., 2020).

Tamasic (Inertia or Dark) type is lazy, indolent, purposeless, and full of inertia and ignorance (BG 14:13) (Sri Swami Sivananda, 1968). Tamasic type would correspond to a personality with temperament dimensions that is high in harm avoidance along with the character dimensions that is low in self-directedness and thus he would be pessimistic, fearful, indolent, blaming, unproductive, inefficient, and aimless. He would prefer food that is stale, tasteless, putrid, rotten and overcooked, overly fried, greasy, rancid and ultra-processed food (BG 17:10) (Sri Swami Sivananda, 1968; Frawley, 2004. p. 195). Tamasic diet is the food that increases the inner darkness and confusion, depression, and inertia. Maybe, the Tamasic diet that is mostly acellular in nature precipitates gut dysbiosis or an unbalanced state of gut microbiota; consequently causing depression, restlessness, and indolence in a human mind (Zinöcker, & Lindseth, 2018).

There is one more rare personality type known as Trigunatit or a yogi, who exceeds all the limitation of personalities and would have character traits high in self- transcendent and thus he would be judicious, intuitive, inventive, transpersonal and spiritual. (BG 2:45 &14:24, 25) (Sri Swami Sivananda, 1968). Such personality or enlightened person would work for the benefits of humanity with compassion. May be, the gut of such person harbours a type of microbiota that makes them altruistic and compassionate in life (Lewin-Epstein, Aharonov, & Hadany, 2017).

Changing the diet causes significant change in psychology over a period of time. (DF) Sattvic diet helps in the treatment of mental disorder because it restores harmony and balance to the mind (Frawley, 2004. p. 191). However, the sattvic diet should be taken in moderate amount because when taken in excesses it becomes tamsik in nature and produces effect opposite of that is intended (Frawley, 2004. p. 193). In fact a recent study has shown that consumption of the sattvic food like banana improves depression; however, the same study showed that consumption of the same in a greater amount produced tamsic effect like depression, presumably because everything in excesses is poison (Ji et al., 2020; Hulsken, Martin, Mohajeri, & Homberg, 2013). Indeed, whose diet and other life activities including sleep are moderate, overcomes sorrow and suffering (BG 6:17) (Sri Swami Sivananda, 1968). May be the balance in life activities including sleep, balances gut microbiota that in turn produce peace and happiness in body and mind (Vaccaro et al., 2020).

In BG, the author exhorts men and demigods to nourish and please one another for a reign of general prosperity (BG 3.11) (Sri Swami Sivananda, 1968). However, what has been said about demigods and humans holds equally true for the humans and microbiota as well, as it is required that both nourish and please each other to maintain optimum physical and mental health.


  Clinical Implications Top


It is not unusual for a psychiatrist or a doctor to be asked for a dietary advice by the clients for their physical as well as mental ailments. As diet influences the various mental functions through gut microbiome and miRNAs, patient can be suggested of various lifestyle modifications including the dietary modification that would be helpful in the psychiatric illnesses. Moreover, for the same reasons, researchers in fields of “mental health and nutrition” too have recommended to include “nutritional psychiatry” in a regular mental health practice (Sarris et al., 2015).

Although host genetics play an important role in shaping the individual microbiomes, genetics are outweighed by the environmental factors such as foods and lifestyle changes that are in volitional control of men (Goodrich et al., 2014; Rothschild et al., 2018). Furthermore, there is advantage of this fact that there are a higher number of microbial genes than the human genes, as food can alter the microbiota composition as soon as in a day despite inter-individual differences in microbial gene expression, and thus giving us an opportunity to change the microbiome and influence the health (Turnbaugh, et al., 2009; David et al., 2014).

There is undisputed role of diet and its various nutritional components in pathophysiology and treatment of various diseases as we know that their deficiency produce various diseases and supplementation of the same through diet and medicine alleviates symptoms of the diseases. It is also known that ketogenic diet high in fat and low in carbohydrate with adequate amount of protein is effective in ADHD and has antiseizure effect and the same is also helpful in a migraine and autism (Mansur, Brietzke, & McIntyre, 2015). Besides these, the diet low in carbohydrate is also known to increases Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor, the action similar to antidepressants such as SSRI (Genzer, Dadon, Burg, Chapnik, & Froy, 2016).

If depression has become a common cold of psychiatry, it is mainly due to widespread changes in diet from predominantly sattvic diet to tamsic diet, i.e., increased intake of red meat, high fat foods, and refined sugars that causes gut dysbiosis and subsequent to this, melancholic microbes stop producing happy hormones and men too, develop depression along with their microbiota (Dinan, 2019). In light of this fact, modern research is highlighting the potential value of ancestral dietary practices on mental health, including its role in providing protection against depression (Selhub, Logan, & Bested, 2014). Hence, first thing needed is to fix the food by eating mostly a wholesome food that is not ultraprocessed and is full of life force, having high fiber content or with the intact cell wall, the things consistently associated with good mental and physical health (Zinöcker & Lindseth, 2018). Since food is responsible for the physical, temperamental, and a mental state of individual, it should be consumed taking individual constitution and psychological predisposition in account (Sarkar, Dhumal, Panigrahi, & Choudhary, 2015). While consuming the food, it would be advantageous to know that the gut microbiota regulates circadian rhythms and are in turn regulated by them, which presumably affect the circadian rhythm dependent intestinal functions like nutrient absorption and motility (Teichman, O'Riordan, Gahan, Dinan, & Cryan, 2020; Hussain & Pan, 2009). Moreover, change in seasons also affects the composition of gut microbiota (Koliada, 2020). Here the guidelines of ancient science of Ayurveda that prescribes or proscribes certain foods depending upon the time of the day and seasons, might be helpful (Thakkar, Chaudhari, & Sarkar, 2011). It is also possible that these guidelines might have been given, with a purpose to establish the harmony between food and microbiota that metabolize it, so to optimise physical and mental health.

For example, a simple advice of inclusion of curd in diet helps in the management of depression by the modulation of tryptophan-kynurenine pathway through Lactobacillus (Marin et al., 2017). In a same way, the consumption of banana improves depression, presumably due to modulation of tryptophan serotonin pathway (Ji et al., 2020; Hulsken et al., 2013). Similarly, natural supplementation that boosts microbiota (Coprococcus boosted by the diet rich in omega 3 fatty acids and Dialister boosted by Walnut consumption), as well as high fiber diet can increase the production of the short chain fatty acid (SCA), butyrate that not only has antidepressant effect but also enhances neuronal plasticity and protects the brain (Costantini, Molinari, Farinon, & Merendino, 2017; Holscher et al., 2018; Bourassa, Alim, Bultman, & Ratan, 2016).

It is understandable that a great amount of money is spent in research to know the effect of various drugs on brain serotonin and with good reason. However, it is equally important to study an effect of nonpharmacological interventions such as food, on brain serotonin and ultimately, on mood and behavior, because the drugs and food may act synergistically and may lead to faster and better recovery in various physical and mental diseases (Young, 2007).


  Results Top


Food is a teacher that uses the medium of microbiota and miRNAs to teach genes, an art of expression that lays the architectural foundation of men's physical and mental health. Thus, the food we take seems to affect mental health through two principal mechanisms, first through microbiome gut brain axis and other through miRNAs.

Hence, taking the moderate amount of diet that has all tastes (sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and astringent) in proportion that suits one's constitution, and that is in harmony with the seasons and local customs, may help us to achieve balance and diversity of gut microbiota, which in turn would balance our physical and mental health.


  Conclusion Top


Although medicines always play a key role in the management of diseases, the role play by food is nonetheless important. The medicines play pivotal role in acute management of disease, while food can also play supportive and preventive role in the management of disease. In a kingdom of body and mind, a garrison of physical and mental health is mainly guarded by the food soldiers of microbiota. The microbiota may act like a God and do all actions from digestion to the provision of nutrition to behavior modulation, but still they fall far short of being a God, because their composition and action can be modified through life style changes such as diet and exercise and also through prebiotics, probiotics, synbiotics (prebiotics and probiotics combined), antibiotics, and fecal transplants. The diet and lifestyle, which if in harmony with nature, seasons, and local customs, may help gut to host the diverse and beneficial microbiota that promotes physical and mental health. Thus, a secret of good physical and mental health is not only to tickle the taste buds with treats but also to keep one own's gut microbiota in the loop while selecting the tasty food.

Future directions

As we know that diet influences mental and physical health. It is good to investigate that how various diet affects the personality and how the personalities affect the food choices in turn. It would be beneficial to investigate how food can be used in lieu of medicine or with medicine to heal or speed up recovery of human body from various physical and mental ailments.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
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Food, Thoughts, ...
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Master-Microbiot...
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