Psychobiotics, gut microbiota and fermented foods can help preserving mental health

Melania Casertano, Vincenzo Fogliano, Danilo Ercolini*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Psychobiotics include a novel class of probiotic microorganisms that convey benefit upon the host's mental health via the dynamic microbiota-gut-brain crosstalk. Research is bolstering the concept that gut bacteria are involved in the transmission of information between the gut and the brain, engaging neural, immune, and endocrine pathways. Factors such as diet, stress and aging can shape the microbiota composition in a process that may also influence the onset and development of mental diseases. This review aims to provide an outline of the link between the microbiota and brain function focusing on preclinical and clinical evidence of the potential application of psychobiotics in the context of the cognitive process and performance. The occurrence of metabolic precursors of neurotransmitters in foods that can be converted by the gut microbiota and play a role in the gut-brain axis is discussed. The understanding of the molecular mechanisms by which communication occurs is still at its infancy; however clinical studies have shown that dietary interventions based on psychobiotics might be a novel nutritional approach targeting gut microbiota for managing cognitive performance and preventing memory decline across the lifespan.

Original languageEnglish
Article number110892
JournalFood Research International
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022


  • Cognitive performance
  • Fermented foods
  • Gut microbiome
  • Gut-brain axis
  • Memory
  • Probiotics


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