Research says gut health linked to mental disorders

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gut-bacteria(NaturalHealth365) Could the cure for depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or anxiety actually lie in gut health? Research is turning up clues that intestinal bacteria could have a critical influence on the human brain and your mood.

In the study, scientists working at The Brain-Body Institute, McMaster University, Ontario, Canada, have been studying whether the gut microbiome could be the key to treating or even preventing mental disorders. What they have uncovered so far is a surprising link between gut health and the body’s response to high-anxiety situations.

Improve your gut health to avoid mental disorders

The gut microbiome is the name given to the collective community of trillions of microbes living in the intestinal tract. It’s been known for some time that these miniscule inhabitants play a big role in gut health and overall wellbeing.  The gut microbiome helps us with everything from digesting food to regulating the immune system.

In addition, scientists are now beginning to gain a greater understanding of the microbiome’s role in transmitting signals to the brain, a process that may have impacts on mood and behavior.

Results of the study could help not only civilians, but the military. It may be possible to improve the mental and physical resilience of solders in challenging situations of dietary changes, disrupted rhythms, changing time zones, sleep loss – and even living beneath the ocean in a submarine.  Bottom line: better gut health equals better decision-making capabilities.

Science shows that gut bacteria influence mood and behavior

The researchers used laboratory mice to illustrate the critical impact that gut bacteria have on mood and demeanor. Scientists found they could even control moods of high-anxiety mice by feeding them healthy gut microbes collected from fecal material of healthy mice.

When the researchers created anxiety and stress in small mice by placing them with larger, aggressive mice for a few minutes each day, the smaller mice showed signs of stress, such as loss of appetite, reduced social interaction and nervous shaking. Researchers compared fecal samples from stressed mice to their non-stressed counterparts, and found a noticeable imbalance in the gut microbiome of the stressed mice, which exhibited a less diverse community of bacteria.

Once the stressed mice were fed the same probiotics found in the calm mice, however, their behavior improved and continued to improve over the next several weeks. Magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) was used to examine brain chemistry of the mice, and identify specific brain biochemical markers when mice were stressed and when they were consuming probiotics.

Reengineering gut microbes can reduce mental disorders

Researchers say the stress biomarkers identified in the study could allow identification of someone suffering from mental disorders or at unusually high risk for developing them. Intervening before PTSD and other mental disorders become serious would allow treatment, or even prevention, using probiotics.

The next steps in the study involve transplanting fecal samples from calm to stressed mice in an effort to improve conditions of the microbiome, and with it, mental health and wellbeing. Future phases would involve clinical trials with humans using probiotics and antibiotics while measuring brain reaction at various levels of stress. Results of future research could pave the way for reengineering the gut microbes to perform specific, desired tasks, such as improving endurance or physical health.


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  • Carmen Ritter

    This is a very curious article for me. On the one hand I always thought it was the way I was raised that cause some of my depression.

    What I couldn’t figure out was why, my childhood was not out of the ordinary, However, when reading this article a bell went off, we were raised with lots of sugary food, canned and processed foods.

    Vegetables and fruits were few and far between. I have had intestinal problems since childhood. This may be the clue I needed.

  • Ivy Blair

    Well they do say the gut is the second brain. It has a great influence on all functions. I agree with this article it has to be healthy for everything to work right.

    Many times when you encounter a moody or nasty person you can see they do not look healthy.

  • Jenny Perry

    Ever since I started to eat better and take probiotics I can see a change in my personality. I am nicer to be around and much more positive. It is worth all the changes to be a happier person.

  • Doreen Morris

    I don’t need to see data to know how true this is. I used to eat a highly processed diet and was addicted to sweets. I can tell you it can mess up your thinking and actions.

    I initially though that my altitude was just my personality. When I reflect back I know that it wasn’t and am glad to know it. I was not happy with many things I did, but thought I couldn’t change them.

    Then i had a health scare and went to a functional medical doctor, who changed my diet. This helped clear up the problem and at the same time convinced me that my faulty thinking was influence by my diet.

  • Xmen442002

    All it takes is one round of prescription anti-biotics to possibly destroy all the good bacteria in your gut that may never be able to be replaced.

  • Pawan Plus100years

    I totally agree that the gut is the foundation of good or bad health depending on how well you take care of it.Great information! Thank you for the timely reminders. It is essential during flu and cold season to build a strong immune system through a healthy gut. Plus100years. com