The bacteria in our gut play a significant role in our body from enhancing our digestive system to strengthening our immune system. From the studies that were conducted by researchers on the function of gut bacteria, we have learned that when there is an imbalance of gut bacteria, we often experience digestive problems such as gas, bloat, cramps, and even susceptibility to various diseases. But did you know that gut bacteria can also affect our brain function?
Gut bacteria number in the trillions and although they reside in our bowels, they can do more for us than what we expected. Yes, they thrive in the warmth as well as the nutrition found in our bowels, but don’t think for a second that this is just a one-way relationship. As a matter of fact, gut bacteria also gives back to us.
Link Between the Gut and the Brain
So how do the gut and the brain go together? Simply put, the brain needs to be informed when the gut is running on fumes, has some problems with our digestion, or when it is being attacked by pathogens. The connections between the two are hormonal, neural, immunological that stem from the central nervous system and the enteric nervous system. This is also referred to as the gut-brain axis. You’ve probably experienced the connection between the two already such as when you are feeling stressed or anxious and your bowel suddenly acts up.
Possible Effects of Gut Bacteria on the Brain
When the gut bacteria in our digestive system are out of whack, or when there is a problem in our gut without us addressing the issue, it can lead to some health issues like the ones mentioned below.
Studies have shown a number of patients who were diagnosed with depression have been found to have a leaky gut. This means that the permeability of the gut lining is allowing bacterium to get into the blood stream thus affecting brain function. Fixing your gut can help prevent this from occurring.
It is possible that an imbalance in the gut bacteria can lead to anxiety or anxious thoughts as the brain and the gut are connected or the other way around. When you are feeling stressed, your body produces stress hormones that can have their effects on different organs including your gut which can also become problematic thus leading to multiple health issues. Regulating your gut bacteria, on the other hand, with prebiotics, can protect your gut and your brain from anxious thoughts.
There are some studies that show gut bacteria linked to brain issues like autism. There is a possibility for autism to occur at the same time when gastrointestinal issues are present like irritable bowel syndrome and leaky gut. Further data needs to be collected to understand the connection between the two fully.
Researchers have discovered in mice that there is a link between poor gut bacteria to changes in brain development. However, the genetics of schizophrenia are complex and will require further studies to fully grasp the connection between the two.
Compared to those who are healthy, patients with Parkinson’s disease have different gut bacteria based on the studies conducted. It might be that taking care of one’s gut bacteria can help prevent the onset of brain issues.
There is still much to be determined on the correlation between gut bacteria and the brain. Scientists are still trying to understand the connection between the two in the hopes to unlocking information on how to support brain function by improving one’s gut health.