Research has already shown that the belly and the mind are indeed connected (there's a reason it's called "gut instinct"), but new studies suggest that the food we eat and the bacteria residing within our gut may be powerful enough to alter our cognitive behavior.
These links between mind and body are helping researchers delve even deeper into viewing health and beauty more holistically.
According to researchers, changes in naturally occurring bacteria within the stomach may pack enough punch to otherwise affect brain chemistry. The new findings may not only help explain why certain gastrointestinal disorders, including irritable bowel syndrome, often occur concurrently with anxiety or depression, but also why some psychiatric illnesses, such as late onset autism, are associated with abnormal bacteria content.
Given our guts are home to about 100 trillion bacteria, it makes sense that a disruption of this complex symbiotic relationship could send shockwaves throughout the body, ultimately affecting the mind.
When researchers at McMaster University disrupted the normal bacterial balance in the stomachs of mice, the mice manifested certain behavioral changes, in some cases becoming less cautious or anxious. What's more, they exhibited an increase in a protein called brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which may be connected to depression and anxiety.
Giving even more clout to this gut and mind meld, another study found that probiotics could help the gut produce certain neurochemicals, which after being delivered to the brain via the blood, can affect gastrointestinal and psychological health.
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