Mind-gut connection

Since healthy eating costs us time, energy and money, we often compromise on it. No big deal right? Well, it’s a bit more complicated. New research on the mind–gut connection tells us that bacteria in the gut can change brain functioning and behaviour, influencing issues of the mind, including depression, anxiety and autism symptoms.

The mind – gut connection

You may not be aware that you actually have two nervous systems: The central nervous system, composed of your brain and spinal cord and the enteric nervous system, which is the intrinsic nervous system of your gastrointestinal tract. These systems are connected by the Vagus nerve, a cranial nerve that runs from your brainstem to your stomach. Your enteric nervous system can work both independently of and in conjunction with the brain.

New research by UCLA confirms that the mind – gut connection is a two way street. Your brain sends signals to your stomach, which is why stress and emotions can contribute to stomach problems and discomfort. Your stomach and intestines send signals to your brain and influence your thinking, feeling and behaviour. The Vagus nerve is the main route through which nerve signals are transmitted from the gut to your brain. ”A lot of the information that the gut sends to the brain affects well-being, however most of it and doesn’t even come to consciousness,” says Michael Gershon at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center, New York.

Research shows that bacteria in the gut can change brain functioning and behaviour and changing gut flora positively influences depression, anxiety and autism symptoms (amongst other things). This discovery has big implications for the field of healthcare and wellbeing. It means that creating a healthy gut flora should be considered as part of treating disorders of the mind.

What you can do

Unfortunately the professionals are slow in catching up and scientists still are not sure exactly which microbial species are connected to mental functioning or what the right balance is. What we do know is that there are no negative side effects associated with this type of treatment and the risk of becoming hooked on this ‘medication’ is for once a good thing.

For more information on how you can add healthy bacteria to you diet view this link:

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