In recent years there has been a renewed interest concerning the ways in which the gastrointestinal tract – its functional integrity and microbial residents – might influence human mood (e.g. depression) and behavioral disorders. Once a hotbed of scientific interest in the early 20th century, this area lay dormant for decades, in part due to its association with the controversial term ‘autointoxication’. Here we review contemporary findings related to intestinal permeability, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, lipopolysaccharide endotoxin (LPS) exposure, D-lactic acid, propionic acid, and discuss their relevance to microbiota and mental health. In addition, we include the context of modern dietary habits as they relate to depression, anxiety and their potential interaction with intestinal microbiota.