The link between gut bacteria, emotion outlook and behavior, research reveals

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gut-bacteria(NaturalHealth365) It turns out that gut bacteria may not only be crucial to gut health and immune system health; it could also play a role in mood disorders and overall emotional health and outlook. Studies out of Northeastern University in Boston and UCLA have now confirmed this link.

There is a particular strain of gut bacteria that depends on a key brain chemical for survival. The molecule is called GABA, and it is instrumental in calming the brain. A shortage of it could adversely affect emotional outlook and lead to mood disorders.

Harmful gut bacteria can lower GABA levels and lead to mood disorders

In their research, Philip Strandwitz and colleagues from Northeastern University of Boston found that the gut bacteria KLE1738 can only grow in the presence of GABA molecules. The research results were presented at the American Society for Microbiology in Boston. Abnormally low levels of GABA are linked with mood disorders and depression.

A 2011 experiment showed another gut bacteria strain, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, alters GABA activity and stress reactions in mice brains. When the vagus nerve was removed – the pathway between the brain and the gut – the link between the two was disconnected. The researchers are now looking to see if other gut bacteria types have a link to GABA and other brain molecules related to mood.

Gut bacteria linked with brain size and functioning

Another study out of UCLA has identified gut bacteria connected with brain areas that are associated with mood and emotionally driven behavior. The research was funded by Danone Research, the National Institutes of Health and the Ahmanson-Lovelace Brain Mapping Center.

The results highlight growing evidence that brain, gut and microbiota interactions have an important role in health, emotions and behavior. In the study, 40 women were tested both chemically and in terms of their brain waves during emotional responses while viewing images. They were divided into groups, with one group showing a higher gut composition of the Bacteroides bacterium, and the other having more Prevotella bacteria.

The Bacteroides group was found to have more robust insula and frontal cortex brain regions; these are areas that assist with complex information processing. Their hippocampus brain volumes were also larger; this area assists in memory processing.

Gut health is critical to physical, cognitive and emotional health

The Prevotella group had more synaptic connections in their attentional, emotional and sensory brain regions, but lower hippocampus volumes. They also had higher levels of anxiety, stress and irritability when viewing negative images than the Bacteroides group.

The results show there is a definite interaction between the brain and the gut microbiota. While it is not certain if both areas influence each other, there is clearly a relationship. Regardless, this information about gut bacteria and gut health is groundbreaking in terms of insights into the mind-body connection.

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  • Rob Nadelman

    No wonder we have so many people with mental health issues. They range from depression, anxiety and emotional outbursts. It probable covers more then that. With the American diet going downhill and the loads of antibiotics killing off the good bacteria we will be living in an unfriendly environment. I have seen people who are so short tempered that conversing with them is hard.

  • Charlie Oliver

    It is hard to find people who are gracious, kind and caring. Everyone is in a hurry and become impatient if they need to wait for anything. I have seen such rude people on grocery lines, at restaurants and even sales people with an attitude. I am sure it is both our fast paced lives and physical problems stemming from the diet. They couldn’t possibly have the best gut health.

  • Shella Rocca

    A few of my neighbor’s kids are so disruptive and moody. I know that it is the pop-tarts and soda for breakfast and the fast food lunch. These kids eat junk all day long so what else can you expect. To think they are starting our ruining their guts by not having enough of the good bacteria and plenty of the harmful kind.

  • Margaret Elwood

    This is the prime reason so many people are suffering from auto immune conditions. I have friends that are in pain constantly from arthritis and because of it they are never in a good mood. This like most conditions start with poor gut health.