As many of you know, I’m very excited about the potential of the microbiome as both an investor and as a way to improve your health. Last month, I wrote to you about why startup investors should be excited about this sector. And some super sharp readers might have noticed I first started writing about the microbiome last year.
For our purposes, the microbiome is the collection of bacteria, viruses and other microorganisms that reside in your gut. This week, I came across a new peer-reviewed study that suggests the a person’s gut microbiome is key to treating depression
The study’s conclusions were published recently in Frontiers in Nutrition. The press release for the study begins by reviewing the drastic effects of the pandemic lockdowns on mental health.
Prescriptions for anti-anxiety medication have increased by 34%, antidepressant prescriptions by 18.6% and common anti-insomnia drugs by 14.8%, according to the latest research. Moreover, clinical trials show between 30-40% of depressed patients do not respond to their first-line antidepressant treatment, with 70% never achieving complete remission of symptoms.
These numbers clearly show that while depression and other mental health issues are increasing, the way we treat them just isn’t effective. The study goes on to talk about the relationship between microbiome health and depression. Specifically, an unhealthy gut microbiome was linked with a higher tendency for depression. But the study also found that by changing diet and lifestyle, the microbiome can be restored.
One of the authors, Dr. Ghannoum, proposes a treatment that focuses on a diet that limits sugar and refined carbohydrates while emphasizing foods that have anti-inflammatory effects. Dr. Ghannoum recommends combining this diet alongside “probiotics, exercise, sleep and stress management” to encourage a healthy gut biome and reduce depression.
I believe that microbiome-based medicine is the future of many medical treatments. There’s growing evidence that tuning the microbiome can have a drastic effect on a person’s health. And it’s all too easy for our gut’s microbes to get out of balance.
I think that microbiome treatments are the next frontier in medical startups. So I’m watching for any relevant news — like this new study — in the space. And I’m keeping an eye out for visionary companies that are moving on this trend.
I don’t know exactly the best way to invest in the microbiome space (yet). But I do know it’s going to change medicine forever. And I want a lot of exposure to startups in the area.