The Gut microbiome and Gut-Brain Axis
The gut microbiome is a name given to the collection of trillions of microorganisms in our gut. They include bacteria, fungi, viruses, and archaea. They are responsible for metabolism, immune system and neuroendocrine response. They help in digestion, nutrient absorption, waste removal, hormonal balance, managing cholesterol, communicating with the brain and much more.
How do they communicate with the brain, you might ask. The gut and the brain are friends and constantly talk via the gut brain axis. They communicate physically via the vagus nerve or chemically via hormones called neurotransmitters. Any change in one of the organs is detected by the other. Ever felt butterflies in your stomach when nervous? It’s the brain signalling the gut something is not right. On the other hand, if we have an upset stomach or any other digestion disorder, it can affect how we think and feel. Gut disorders like Dysbiosis and Leaky Gut are both known to affect mood.
Recent scientific studies have shown the influence of gut microbiota on the interactions between the gut and the brain. Research conducted on mice showed that the gut microbiota is crucial to the development of the central nervous system. It is also shown that microbiota influences stress activity and anxiety. On a separate research, it was discovered that mice with larger diversity of gut bacteria presented increased physical activity, reference memory and less anxiety-like behaviour. You can read the detailed research paper here.
There is a strong evidence that the gut microbes influence the gut brain axis. There is also sufficient research to believe that certain bacteria strains/ probiotics when adopted as part of regular diet can help restore certain health disorders and reduce anxiety related issues.