New research is suggesting that our gut bacteria directly affects our brains structure and the way it functions. This could potentially lead to new treatment for psychiatric conditions. Previously thought to be unlinked, gut bacteria may be playing an important role in your mental state. Having an affect on your thoughts, moods, and behavior. A new study from the University College Cork states that your gut microbes might actually affect the regulation of myelination (the process which insulates nerve fibers so they can properly conduct impulses). Nature.com
This new study provides extremely strong evidence that gut bacteria can have a direct physical impact on brain function. It even suggest that it may one day be possible to treat debilitating demyelinating diseases and even psychiatric disorders by altering/strengthening the composition of the gut’s microbial structure.
Early clinical trials are even suggesting that probiotic supplements could be effective treatments for mood disorders. Eventually our bacterial soup may be shown to contain markers for diseases, which could be detected cheaply and quickly. Research into the gut micro-biome has the potential to change many aspects of health and biotechnology. – Molecular Biophysicist Rob Knight of the University of Colorado at Boulder
Microbes colonize your body as soon as you are born. By the time you turn three years old, the gut contains approximately 100 trillion microbes and almost 500 different bacterial species live in your intestines. The microbial compositions of family members have slight similarities to one another and identical twins are even more similar. This suggests that genetics play an important roll in determining intestinal microbes and bacteria.
Embedded in the lining of the intestines is the enteric nervous system, with hundreds of millions of neurons—one-thousandth the number in your brain. This network, colloquially termed a “second brain,” controls gut function. It processes missives from the intestines and their microbes without input from brain number one. Gut neurons communicate with the brain through the vagus nerve, which extends from the base of the brain to the chest and abdomen and sends a branch of nerve fibers to the intestines. – Scientific American
So there you have it. You probably already knew it, but this just reinforces it. Eat healthy and take care of your gut! Your stomach is even more important than just the digestion and processing of food. It has a direct link on the function and structure of your mind. As more studies and research come out we will learn more about how certain foods and medicine can directly affect our brain and thoughts. Hopefully treatments for diseases can be implemented soon as well.