Mind and Body: New Evidence About Gut Bacteria and Brain Function
The science is there folks: gut physiology, gut bugs, healthy gut bugs make a difference in human behavior. Check out these several points:
There are between 2-4 pounds of bacteria in one’s [adult] intestinal tract. Scientists estimate that there are more bacterial cells in your gastrointestinal tract than the entire number of cells in the rest of your body.
There are two types of bacteria in our intestinal tracts:
there is beneficial bacteria and pathogenic or harmful bacteria. The ratio of beneficial to harmful bacteria is perhaps the most crucial element in our health today. Researchers estimate that the average intestinal tract of a healthy individual should be approximately 85% beneficial and 15% pathogenic. While that 15% pathogenic is still in your body, it is benign when it is in the presence of the 85% beneficial bacteria. The real problem here is that the average individual, consuming the standard American diet, has the exact opposite ratio, which is 15% beneficial and 85% pathogenic.”
Findings from Science Daily
ScienceDaily (May 17, 2011) — For the first time, researchers at McMaster University have conclusive evidence that bacteria residing in the gut influence brain chemistry and behaviour.
The findings are important because several common types of gastrointestinal disease, including irritable bowel syndrome, are frequently associated with anxiety or depression. In addition there has been speculation that some psychiatric disorders, such as late onset autism, may be associated with an abnormal bacterial content in the gut.
The research appears in the online edition of the journal Gastroenterology. – Working with healthy adult mice, the researchers showed that disrupting [decreasing] the normal bacterial content of the gut with antibiotics produced changes in behaviour; the mice became less cautious or anxious. This change was accompanied by an increase in brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF – nerve growth factor), which has been linked to depression and anxiety. When oral antibiotics were discontinued, bacteria in the gut returned to normal. “This was accompanied by restoration of normal behaviour and brain chemistry,” Collins said.
Another Noteworthy Reference – Stress, Gut, Immune Dysfunction
ScienceDaily (Mar. 22, 2011) — Stress can change the balance of bacteria that naturally live in the gut, according to research published this month in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity.
Exposure to stress led to changes in composition, diversity and number of gut microorganisms, according to scientists from The Ohio State University. The bacterial communities in the intestine became less diverse, and had greater numbers of potentially harmful bacteria, such as Clostridium.
“These changes can have profound implications for physiological function,” explained Dr Bailey. “When we reduced the number of bacteria in the intestines using antibiotics, we found that some of the effects of stress on the immune system were prevented,” he added. “This suggests that not only does stress change the bacteria levels in the gut, but that these alterations can, in turn, impact our immunity.”
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Just a few notes to keep you tracking on the bigger CorePsych picture 😉 Have a great week! – And do leave a comment it these findings impact your own life.