Mental health

Is it true that consuming a specific protein could increase your risk for depression?

Dr Frank Lipman
Dec 14, 2022

Could consumption of a specific protein influence mental health? The latest research suggests that the protein, proline, and its poor metabolism may be linked to a heightened risk for depression.

Study Summary

The study included ~100 participants who were then classified according to depression severity (non-depressed, mildly depressed or major depressed). The type and amount of protein consumed by participants was then analyzed. These were the findings:

  • Consumption of a protein called proline, as well as plasma levels of proline, were associated with depression.
  • Plasma proline levels were dependent on microbiome composition. Those with lower levels of bacterial genes responsible for the metabolism of the protein were more prone to depression, while those with higher levels of these bacterial genes were less prone to depression. These specific genes work to lower plasma proline levels.

The Hearty Take

At Hearty, we know that gut health impacts every area of health. Proline is mainly found in meat, fish and eggs. However, this study doesn’t yet justify any recommendation for proline, but rather cements the evidence that nourishing our microbiomes is a priority for our mental health. Here are some tips for microbiome health: limit sugar, starches, processed foods, and eat a variety of healthy plant foods. You can also prioritize daily exercise and adequate sleep!

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