The Gut-Brain Connection: How Our Microbes Affect Our Behavior
Have you ever heard the phrase “gut feeling”? It turns out that there may be some truth to it. Research has shown that our gut bacteria, also known as our microbiome, can affect our behavior and even our mental health.
Our microbiome consists of trillions of microorganisms, including
that live in our digestive system. These microorganisms play a crucial role in our overall health, including our immune system and digestion. But recent studies have shown that they may also impact our behavior and brain function.
One study published in the journal Cell Reports found that mice who were given antibiotics to disrupt their microbiome exhibited changes in their behavior, including:
- increased anxiety
- impaired memory
Another study conducted on humans found that those with certain gut bacteria had lower levels of anxiety and depression.
How exactly do our gut bacteria affect our behavior?
One theory is through the gut-brain axis, a communication pathway between the gut and the brain. This pathway involves the vagus nerve, which connects the brainstem to the digestive system, and a variety of chemicals and hormones produced by the gut.
The microbiome can also produce neurotransmitters, such as
which play a crucial role in our mood and behavior. In fact, about 90% of our body’s serotonin is produced in the gut. Disruptions to the microbiome can lead to imbalances in these neurotransmitters, which can contribute to mood disorders like anxiety and depression.
What can we do to support a healthy microbiome and, in turn, our mental health?
- Eating a balanced diet that is high in fiber and plant-based foods can help promote the growth of beneficial gut bacteria.
- Probiotics, which are live bacteria found in certain foods like yogurt and kefir, can also help replenish the microbiome.
- Reducing stress and getting enough sleep can also support a healthy microbiome. Chronic stress has been shown to disrupt the gut-brain axis and lead to imbalances in the microbiome. Getting enough sleep is also crucial, as disruptions to our sleep cycle can impact our gut bacteria.
Read and learn more from Anthony L. Komaroff MD, Editor in Chief, Harvard Health Letter.
By supporting a healthy microbiome through diet, reducing stress, and getting enough sleep, we can help ensure our gut-brain connection is functioning optimally. Florassist GI (probiotic for gut health) and Brain Vitale (improve brain health) from Asher Longevity Institute are supplements that will surely help you too.