Bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other microscopic living things are referred to as microbes. Trillions of these microbes exist mainly inside your intestines and on your skin. The gut microbiome refers to all these microbes in your intestines, which act as another organ crucial for your health.
The role of gut microbiome has been proved
In recent years, scientists have been keeping an eye on relations between the gut microbiome and brain and mental health.
Using animal models, scientists recently discovered that a change to the gut microbiota brought about by chronic stress can lead to depressive-like behaviors. Other studies also found that the unique microbiome of people with Alzheimer’s disease could be contributing to the progression of their disease. Evidence from models of multiple sclerosis and stroke suggested that changes in the gut microbiome may indirectly influence the central nervous system via effects on immune homeostasis and immune responses.
According to these studies, gut bacteria produce hundreds of neurochemicals that the brain uses to regulate basic mental processes such as learning, memory and mood. For example, gut bacteria manufacture about 95 percent of the body’s supply of serotonin, which influences both mood and GI activity.
How are the gut and brain connected?
While the digestive tract and the brain feel far apart in your body, they are actually connected via the gut-brain axis, a 24/7 direct line of biochemical communication, set up by special nerve cells and immune pathways. Thus the gut microbiome may affect brain health.
Apart from the gut-brain axis, gut bacteria affect how your brain works by producing specific chemicals. Such chemicals are called short-chain fatty acids (SCFA). SCFA affects brain function in a number of ways, such as reducing appetite, or forming the barrier between the brain and the blood.
Besides, your gut and brain are also connected through chemicals called neurotransmitters. For example, the neurotransmitter serotonin contributes to feelings of happiness and helps control your biological clock.
What should you do to protect the gut?
Enhancing beneficial bacteria in the gut has the potential to improve mood and reduce anxiety in both healthy people and patient groups. Diet is the top priority to make it. Since the gut microbiome is directly affected by the food you eat, as your food is ultimately its food, nutritional components in fruits, vegetables, fiber, and whole grains are advocated. To date, several human studies have observed a reduced risk for depression after eating on diets that are higher in fruits and vegetables, fish, whole grains, and olive oil.
In conclusion, these studies show the role of the gut microbiome in physical and mental processes. Further studies on the gut may help us humans to fully understand emotions and behaviors.