Have you ever felt that your gut is telling you something? For instance, do you ever tell yourself: “I can feel it in my gut” If you stick around, we’ll literally discuss this phrase when it comes to your stress, anxiety and health in general. We discuss the brain gut connection.
It turns that that our intestine has many nerve endings. Scientist Michael Gershon says that our gut houses a sensitive, intelligent, organ.
Having these nerve cells in the intestine allows the gut to communicate with the brain. There are various scientists who describe the gut as the enteric nervous system. According to such a model, there is constant communication between the gut and brain.
It turns out that the intestine is not only home to millions of neurons. but our bodies contain an ecosystem of bacteria referred to as microbiota.
Dr. Stephen Collins at McMaster University is researching microbiota. He completed research with two species of mice. One species was known to be quiet and calm and the other group aggressive. By giving each group of mice microbiota from the other, researchers could influence the behavior of the other species. Providing the aggressive mice with the microbiota from the calm mice, calmed the aggressive mice down. Providing the calm mice microbiota from the aggressive mice made them more aggressive.
Dr. Collins states that these findings provide evidence that microbiota influence the brain.
Another interesting fact about the gut: 95% of our bodies serotonin is produced in the gut. Serotonin acts on the brain, particularly in the hypothalamus, which is a zone that manages our emotions and takes part in the regulation of our emotions. Serotonin is one of the main neurotransmitters thought to be targeted by SSRI medications for anxiety, depression and OCD.
So can bacteria influence our anxiety and our ability to handle stress? Well there is some interesting information in this regard. At the Center for Neurology for Stress in Los Angeles, Kirsten Tillisch tested the effects of probiotics in yogurt. She found that the brains of healthy women ingesting probiotics over time responded better when shown stressful images. Tillisch suggests that these findings are exciting and demonstrate the potential that taking something that can be purchased from your local market could change the brain. Researchers cautioned that this topic needs more research.
Another study looked at early life stress (ELS). A study found that treating rats with probiotics (Lacidofil® (95% Lactobacillus rhamnosus R0011 and 5% Lactobacillus helveticus R0052) was helpful in protecting against long term affects of the equivalent of early life stress in humans. Of course the same findings would need to be replicated in humans. However, researchers noted that the results “offer a potential therapeutic intervention to protect children against the harmful effects of ELS.”
You can get a link to more information about this study from the URL in our bio.
However, the evidence seems compelling enough for one to consider facilitating healthy microbiota in their gut. It makes sense for one to eat a healthy diet to ensure one is getting the right nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. This could be a natural form of self-help for your mental health in general, and some posit there could even benefit conditions such as ADHD. The idea of eating a health diet does not seem like a bad idea.
We plan to continue to follow this topic. To stay up to date sign up for our free newsletter (below).
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Understanding the constant dialogue that goes on between our gut and our brain