Believe it or not, the tiny microbes that line your gut actually play a huge part in your mental and neurological health. A groundbreaking study by UCLA researchers shows the strong connection between healthy gut bacteria and brain function. It is thus, that not for nothing, our intestines are called our second brain since, basically, if the intestines are healthy, there is a high probability that your mental state is too.

Gut microbiota and repercussions on brain function

In relation to this study at the University of California , it was stated that there is research that has shown that what we eat as food can modify the products and the composition of our intestinal flora, more in particular, it is said that the intestinal environment or the microbiota of people who eat diets high in fiber and vegetables have a different composition than people who eat the typical western diet, which, we all know, is high in carbohydrates and fat. And now we know that this mechanism has effects not only on our metabolism, but also has repercussions on brain function.

Immune system located in the intestines

While scientists say they still need to do additional research on exactly how this occurs, some believe that the gut microbiota releases signaling molecules in our gut, affecting our dietary decisions. Since this second brain, the gut, is linked to the immune system, the endocrine system and the nervous system , these signals therefore affect our physiological and behavioral reactions.

However, just as bacteria can influence our behaviors, we can alter them by changing what we consume, which could alter the bacteria itself. Research at the Cancer and Evolution Center proposes that gut bacteria could influence what we eat by manipulating signals in the vagus nerve, which connects 100 million nerve cells from the digestive tract to the base of the brain.

Intestines – the second brain

Due to the profound influence of the gut on mental health in humans, many people call the intestines ” The Second Brain,” since the microbes found throughout the body actually weigh twice the human brain. While experiments testing the impact of gut bacteria on mental health are in the early stages, researchers seem to have found a clear link between having more strong gut bacteria and having a healthier brain.

In fact, another study found that young adults who eat more fermented foods, or those that contain probiotics, have fewer symptoms of social anxiety than adults who do not eat fermented foods. This could be attributed to the fact that healthy bacteria lower general anxiety symptoms in our “second brain,” the gut . Studies on how gut health affects depression are ongoing, but we do know that most depression medications contain serotonin, a chemical found naturally in certain foods.

The lead author of the study from the University of California, Dr. Kirsten Tillisch, has reported that it is very common for patients to mention that it was not until they started with intestinal problems that anxiety and depression came in turn. The study they did at UCLA was to show that the gut-brain connection is a two-way street.

Our modern world relies heavily on nutritionally deficient processed foods, which may explain why we have so many digestive and mental health problems today. These toxic foods may explain why Western societies in particular have such high rates of anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and other common mental disorders.

How to Treat Second Brain for Anxiety and Depression

So what can you do to promote healthy gut bacteria to reduce anxiety and depression?

  1. Eliminate, or greatly reduce, highly processed foods.
  2. Eating fresh, whole foods straight from nature will allow your digestive system to reestablish itself, thus disrupting the bacteria in your gut. Opt for fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, sweet potatoes, fermented foods, and a small amount of unpasteurized organic dairy and lean, organic meats.
  3. Introduce more fermented and unpasteurized foods into your diet.
  4. Fermented foods contain lactic acid bacteria, a beneficial bacteria that promote good microbes within the gut. Examples of fermented foods you can eat include tempeh (made from fermented soybeans), miso, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, and yogurt.
  5. Eat foods rich in fiber.
  6. A study published by Professor Andrew Smith at Cardiff University in 2002 revealed that eating more fiber results in higher energy levels, more clarity and a more positive mindset rather than eating a low fiber diet. In addition, high fiber diets can reduce fatigue and lower the risk of developing diseases of the intestines, including cancer.
  7. Fiber-rich foods basically include three food groups: fruits, vegetables, and starches like brown rice, sweet potatoes, and other grains classified as complex carbohydrates.

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses.He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *