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Papers: 15 Jun 2024 - 21 Jun 2024

2024 Jun 18

Nutr Neurosci


Treating chronic stress and chronic pain by manipulating gut microbiota with diet: can we kill two birds with one stone?


Costa A, Lucarini E


Chronic stress and chronic pain are closely linked by the capacity to exacerbate each other, sharing common roots in the brain and in the gut. The strict intersection between these two neurological diseases makes important to have a therapeutic strategy aimed at preventing both to maintain mental health in patients. Diet is an modifiable lifestyle factor associated with gut-brain axis diseases and there is growing interest in its use as adjuvant to main therapies. Several evidence attest the impact of specific diets or nutrients on chronic stress-related disorders and pain with a good degree of certainty. A daily adequate intake of foods containing micronutrients such as amino acids, minerals and vitamins, as well as the reduction in the consumption of processed food products can have a positive impact on microbiota and gut health. Many nutrients are endowed of prebiotic, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory and neuroprotective potential which make them useful tools helping the management of chronic stress and pain in patients. Dietary regimes, as intermittent fasting or caloric restriction, are promising, although further studies are needed to optimize protocols according to patient’s medical history, age and sex. Moreover, by supporting gut microbiota health with diet is possible to attenuate comorbidities such as obesity, gastrointestinal dysfunction and mood disorders, thus reducing healthcare costs related to chronic stress or pain. This review summarize the most recent evidence on the microbiota-mediated beneficial effects of macro- and micronutrients, dietary-related factors, specific nutritional regimens and dietary intervention on these pathological conditions.