Scientists are finally starting to understand the gut and brain connection, and this understanding can lead to huge breakthroughs in regard to various mental disorders, and how what’s going on in the gut could actually be a culprit for many of these illnesses. Many are surprised to learn that an estimated 90% of the serotonin produced by the body actually comes from the gut! This may lead us to believe that proper nutrition, gut microbiome, and digestion might be a key component to a healthy mind.
Recently, bacteria have been discovered in the gut that depends solely on one of the chemicals in our brains for survival. These bacteria consume a molecule known as GABA; this molecule is crucial for calming the brain. This shows directly how gut bacteria can affect our mood.
Philip Strandawitz and his colleagues from Northeastern University in Boston have recently discovered that a species of recently discovered gut bacteria, called KLE1738 could only be grown if it was provided with GABA molecules. While announcing his findings at the annual meeting of the American Society of Microbiology in Boston last month, Strandawitz said, “Nothing made is grown, except GABA.”
GABA acts by inhibiting signals from nerve cells, which calms down the activity of the brain. This is why it’s so surprising that a bacteria in the gut needs it in order to grow and reproduce. Interestingly enough, low levels of GABA are directly linked to depression and other mood disorders. The findings of this study just provide further evidence that the bacteria in our gut are directly affecting the function of our brains.
What Does This Mean For Treatment Of Depression?
An experiment performed in 2011 showed how a type of gut bacteria called Lactobacillus rhamnosus can actually alter the GABA activity in the brains of mice, as well as directly influencing how the mice are responding from stress. Researchers involved in this study found that this effect disappeared when they surgically removed the vagus nerve, linking the gut to the brain, in the mice. This suggests that it plays a role in the influence that gut bacteria have on the brain.
Now, Strandawitz is looking for other gut bacteria that consume, or alternatively produce GABA. This way he can test their effects on the brains and behavior of animals. This research may eventually lead to alternative treatments for various mood disorders including depression and anxiety.
Is It Really As Simple As Diet?
Perhaps. We can’t really say for sure, but having a healthy gut can relate to having a healthy mind. There are more and more instances being documented from people who have completely changed their diets, and the impact it has had on their mood, symptoms of depression and, believe it or not, on autism as well.
There are many different contributing factors leading to an imbalance of gut flora, which in turn can lead to various mental and physical issues. Overuse of antibiotics without taking probiotics can cause this, not being breastfed as a baby could lead to gut issues down the road, also, being born from a C-section can also cause issues later on, as the beneficial bacteria that would normally be passed to the baby during birth is bypassed. These factors and more can lead to many different ailments and allergies.
After all our guts go through, it is no surprise that many of us are struggling with so many health disorders and allergies, but having this awareness – that so much is dependent on an optimal functioning gut and digestive system – is the first step towards taking back our health!
I highly suggest the book, Medical Medium by Anthony William, where these topics are explored on a much deeper level.
Have you changed your life by changing your diet and bringing balance to your gut flora? Let us know your story!
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