It is often said that “You are what you eat”. Turns out, there is some objective truth in that statement. It is a scientifically proven fact that our mood and health completely depend on our food habits. Human nutrition is complex, and the microbiota affects everything right from our mood, stress, health, and behavior. This intricately linked system has made some scientists call our gut, the second brain. In the anatomy of the brain-gut axis, it has been found that the bacteria in the digestive system helps mold the brain structure and assists in the growth and development of the brain. It can be called as a bidirectional communication.
What’s the connection between the gut and brain?
Let’s understand the science behind this phenomenon. The human body consists of a trillion microbes collectively known as the microbiome. The vagus nerve present in the digestive system has a direct connection between the gut and brain. In fact, Irish researchers tested the absence of the vagus nerve; they cut the vagus nerve of a mouse and observed that many responses were eliminated. Almost 90% of fibers in the primary visceral nerve carries information from the gut to the brain. The right gut bacteria interact on a hormonal level to stop the cortisol and adrenaline response, which is harmful in the long term.
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Gut’s effects on brain
The gut is significantly responsible for maintaining the brain function and it has been proven that the gut influences the risk of psychiatric and neurological disorders such as autism, anxiety, stress, and depression. It can even have a considerable effect on neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease. Gut bacteria produce molecules that communicate with the brain and enters the bloodstream. Microbes predominantly interact with the immune system, which in turn interacts with the brain. So in a manner of speaking, the gut talks to the brain through bacterial toxins, metabolites, nutrient scavenging, change of taste receptors, and stirring of the immune system.
Stress mechanism and gut
An independent study has proven that even two hours of stress can change the composition of microbiota. Researchers claim that people who suffer from gastrointestinal disorders are vulnerable to anxiety issues. In fact, medical conditions such as mood swings, irritable bowel syndrome, and chronic fatigue syndrome are also related to the gut microbiota. These gut-brain disorders are worsened by stress. Adverse alterations in the gut can even lead to neurocognitive impairments, insomnia, and depression. Microbial imbalance such as high levels of lactobacillus is associated with constant mood swings in patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
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Effect on sleep and metabolism
There is evidence that microbiota affects circadian rhythm. High levels of Clostridium bacteria lead to sleep problems and fatigue, which is because of an unbalanced diet. It further gives rise to obesity, metabolic issues, and inflammatory diseases.
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How to bring the right mood?
“Psychobiotics” has a cure for gut-brain disorders. Probiotics have shown a diminishing effect on cortisol, which is a stress hormone, thereby decreasing depression and anxiety. Although probiotics are naturally found in a human body, they can be taken through supplements or consumption of selected food items. Probiotics basically augment the growth of good bacteria, that take care of the overall well-being of the human body. Recently, sugar molecules have been discovered in green leafy vegetables, which has a protective effect on the gut. Scientists have been researching for a diagnostic breakthrough that can cure the chronic condition affecting the central nervous system.
Signals from the gut go up to the brain and vice versa. An inflamed gut can lead to a psychological dysfunction. Therefore, you must maintain your gut health for a fresh, healthy, and happy mind.
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