Exploring How Probiotics Could Boost Mental Health on Pink Shirt Day


Mental health is increasingly recognised as a major global concern, especially with the challenges posed by events like the COVID-19 pandemic1.

Initiatives like Pink Shirt Day are pivotal in addressing issues such as bullying and fostering kindness and inclusivity and helping to prevent poor mental health.

Concurrently, there's a growing interest in understanding how our diet, including probiotics, might influence our mental well-being.

Dairy's Impact on Mental Well-Being with Maher Fuad.

The idea that what we eat can affect how we feel is not new. Hippocrates, centuries ago, famously said, "Let food be thy medicine." Today, modern science is uncovering the intricate relationship between our gut health and our mental state, known as the gut-brain axis. This bi-directional communication pathway between our gut and brain can influence our overall health and behaviour.

One intriguing aspect of this relationship is the potential role of probiotics. These live microorganisms, found in foods like yogurt, have been suggested to positively impact our gut microbiota, thereby potentially influencing our mental health.

At FRDC in Palmerston North, we've been conducting research on a specific probiotic strain, Nutiani HN001, to explore its effects on mental well-being. Our investigations, spanning various experiments and clinical trials, have shown promising results: Nutiani HN001 appears to mitigate depression and anxiety-like behaviours induced by stress2.

Moreover, individuals taking Nutiani HN001 reported an improvement in mood and a heightened sense of happiness over time. 

Moreover, individuals taking Nutiani HN001 reported an improvement in mood and a heightened sense of happiness over time. Interestingly, combining HN001 with intermittent fasting showed additional psychological benefits, including improved mental health and social functioning .

These findings underscore the potential of probiotics, such as Nutiani HN001, in managing mental health conditions. As we delve deeper into the intricate interplay between our gut and brain, it becomes increasingly evident that dietary interventions, like probiotics, could offer valuable avenues for promoting mental well-being and mitigating the adverse effects of poor mental health.

About Pink Shirt Day

Pink Shirt Day is an annual bullying prevention campaign celebrated throughout Aotearoa and internationally. In Aotearoa, it specifically works to reduce bullying in school and workplace settings and foster good mental health by celebrating diversity and promoting the development of positive social relationships.


  • Ross K. Psychobiotics: Are they the future intervention for managing depression and anxiety? A literature review. Explore. 2023 Sep 1;19(5):669-80.
  • Slykerman RF, Hood F, Wickens K, Thompson JM, Barthow C, Murphy R, Kang J, Rowden J, Stone P, Crane J, Stanley T. Effect of Lactobacillus rhamnosus HN001 in pregnancy on postpartum symptoms of depression and anxiety: a randomised double-blind placebo-controlled trial. EBioMedicine. 2017 Oct 1;24:159-65.
  • Tay A, Pringle H, Penning E, Plank LD, Murphy R. PROFAST: a randomized trial assessing the effects of intermittent fasting and Lacticaseibacillus rhamnosus probiotic among people with prediabetes. Nutrients. 2020 Nov 17;12(11):3530.