Gut Bacteria’s Effect on Brain Health
Our brain is one of the most complex living structures know to man. Until recently, we have viewed the brain as sole and central to our bodies function, but today there is new information telling us that the brain might not be working on its own. We would never typically associate the brain’s complicated functions with the system responsible for processing our food, but there is a strong connection. Our brain function is heavily influenced by our gut, specifically by our gut bacteria.
Through science, we have determined that there is good and bad microbiota within our digestive system. Its careful balance is important in our nutrition and ultimately our survival. According to the study done by the European Academy of Neurology, the function of those bacteria may not be limited to nutrition alone. They have determined that this microbiota is capable of eliciting bravery and even triggering the disease process for multiple sclerosis. The research points out those mice that have a germ-free intestinal environment experience a state of relaxation, relatively free from anxiety, producing an effect of increased bravery. It was also shown that when the gut is maintained germ-free, there is an associated increased in the formation of the brain’s protective structure in the form of myelination. Lack of myelination or damage to the myelin sheath is one of the pathologic processes behind Multiple Sclerosis.
The strong link between the gut and the brain does not end there. A research finding published by the University of Illinois shows that gut microbiota can alter the body’s endocrine function. In the study, it was found out that black males with Type 2 Diabetes have significantly lower number of good bacteria and more of the bad ones.
Another recent study confirms the importance of a healthy microbiota to healthy rest and was published by Cornell University. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, a condition in which normal activity causes extreme weakness which is not alleviated by rest, has stumped doctors for decades. The findings revealed that those with the condition have a distinct inflammation found in the gut. Upon further analysis, it was found out that people with chronic fatigue syndrome have intestinal bacteria that can trigger the immune response causing the debilitating condition.
Recent studies all point out the significance of the gastrointestinal system in neurologic, endocrine, and inflammatory diseases. Perhaps a better approach is to start exploring the gut for the culprits first instead on focusing on the affected organ. It also opens up the playing field to new classes of drugs that can alter the microbiota instead of targeting the brain itself.
European Academy of Neurology. (2016, May 29). Connections between gut microbiota and the brain. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 5, 2016 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/05/160529174445.htm
University of Illinois at Chicago. (2015, March 6). Gut bacteria may contribute to diabetes in black males. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 5, 2016 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/03/150306102752.htm
Cornell University. (2016, June 27). Chronic fatigue syndrome is in your gut, not your head. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 5, 2016 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/06/160627160939.htmTags: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Diabetes, Fatigue, Multiple Sclerosis