Understanding how our gut affects our moods

Our microbiota is a complex community of organisms working together to maintain dynamic ecological balance. Of the trillions of bacteria that live in the body, 80% of those are found in the gut. These bacteria are not only essential for normal GI function but also brain development/function and cognitive/emotional processing.

The gut brain axis is a bidirectional network involving complex signalling pathways between the the gut and the brain.

Communication between the gut microbiota and the nervous system occurs through different nerve pathways. Studies show that altered emotional state and chronic stress can adversely affect gut microbiota, allowing bacteria to enter circulation and affect the nervous system. Additionally, an imbalance of bacteria in the gut can alter immune and inflammatory responses which can affect brain function and cause damage to the intestinal lining.

Lifestyle stress, drugs, infection and genetic influences can change microbiota, and therefore the use of probiotics may be necessary. Beneficially altering the gut environment can reduce inflammation, strengthen the intestinal wall and help produce neurotransmitters.

Probiotic strain Lactobacillus helveticus and Bifidobacterium longum may be beneficail in the treatment of anxiety and stress. The treatment was found to be safe, well tolerated with no reported adverse reactions.

A recent study has shown the benefits of the probiotic species L. acidophilus, L. casei and B. bifidum, to treat Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). even in non-depressive people B. bifidum, B. lactis, L. acidophilus, L. brevis, L. casei, L. salivarius and Lactococcus lactis reduced negative thoughts associated with sad mood. B. lactis and L. rhamnosus have had positive effects on immunity.

A healthy and diverse gut microbiota is crucial. Dybiosis (leaky gut) can have profound impact on brain function. Emerging evidence continues to examine the role of the gut-brain axis which can potentially affect treatment options for neuropsychiatric conditions such as depression and anxiety. If you would like to know more, or think that your gut health needs a boost why not come in a see Ruth and her team.