Gut bacteria and their connection to the brain

The presence of gut bacteria improve a persons health. This is not news. They become conspicuous by their absence because the body goes out of balance and losses equilibrium. This much seems obvious. But what’s not obvious yet equally true is that gut microbiome also influence brain functioning and the neurological processes in the human body.

There is increasing interest in investigating how the bacterial ecosystem is responsible for how we feel emotionally and the types of thoughts that predominate. In other words, gut bacteria or the absence of them have been implicated in the psychological predisposition of a person.

So what exactly does gut microbiome have to do with a person’s mental health? Precisely this: gut bacteria regulate mood. Of course their jurisdiction reaches far beyond the territory of mood and into the realms of neuropsychology. The gut is where gastroenterology meets the brain and the moderators of this meeting are the lactobacillus present in trillions.

Some of the most fascinating research in this area has been done on autism. It has been recorded over decades that children with autism simultaneously suffer digestive issues of one kind or another. This trend led researchers to look into what seemed most self-evident: the potential connections between gut bacteria and autism. Recent research has shown that the sampling of gut microbes in an autistic person vary significantly from control groups. According to an experiment conducted on Mice with symptoms that were similar to autism significant improvement was found in their behaviour after treatment that altered the colony of gut bacteria. These mice reportedly became less anxious, more communicative and showed reduced repetitive behaviour.

There is also substantial evidence that gut microbiome can alter anxiety and depression or the absence of it can create these conditions. It has been found that particularly two strains of bacteria, namely Lactobacillus and Bifidus reduce anxiety-related behaviour in mice. Humans also carry both strains of bacteria in their guts. In one research study, scientists transplanted gut bacteria from anxious mice into mice displaying calm behavior. The rest is self explanatory.

Given that the human gastrointestinal tract begins at the mouth and travels via the esophagus, stomach and intestines, it is native to trillions of bacteria responsible for complex symbiosis that maintain homeostasis in the digestive tract and immune system. These microflora are given to us at birth and evolve continuously as we age, as long as we put good food into the belly. Look at it this way: the human gut is an ecosystem of beneficial bacteria, which are kept thriving by probiotic input, which in-turn keep us healthy by defending against harmful bacteria that are waiting to colonise the intestines when reserves are low. So a healthy gut not only defends against illness and infection, it also keep us psychologically and emotionally fit.

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