• Our Second Brain: The Connection Between the Brain and the Gut


    All disease starts in the gut   

    ~ Hippocrates

    Your brain and stomach are intimately connected

    The last place to think to check for issues that affect mental health, is most likely your stomach. Your gut, to be precise. However, this was the speculation that George Phillips of the 20th century had that led to groundbreaking discoveries.

    Studies have found that there is indeed a connection between the brain and the gut that causes certain mental health conditions. The presence of some type of gut bacteria has often been the linking factor resulting in conditions like depression, anxiety, mood issues, and many more.

    This article will further help you understand how your gut’s health can be what triggers your mental health spells and how you can manage it.

    How Gut Bacteria May Be Partially Responsible

    It is widely known that the presence of healthy gut bacteria is highly effective in ensuring the gut is not inflamed. Before we are born, the human gut remains sterile. But through contact with the birth canal, the mother, and the surroundings, a newborn is exposed to microbiotic bacteria.

    Everyone has their own unique microbiome influenced by many factors including genes, the environment, things we ingest, antibiotics, drugs, and so on, which can lead to an unhealthy gut. The presence of unhealthy microbes in the gut influences mental health.

    To test the accuracy of this theory, some experimental treatments using gut bacteria were conducted on germ-free mice. These mice were raised in sterile conditions with no access to microbes on or in their body.

    The results of their stress response and levels showed fluctuations. Then, the researchers introduced healthy gut bacteria (the kind that helps curb gut inflammation and that Phillips had used to treat his melancholic patients) into the germ-free mice.

    The result was that the mice showed less stress responses than mice without any gut microbes.

    Another experiment by Chinese researchers showed that by dosing a group of germ-free mice with gut bacteria from a depressed person, the mice also showed symptoms of depression such as lethargy and hopelessness.

    This suggests that changing the active gut microbiome changes the behavior of the animal. Various studies have also been conducted on human participants, results show that differences in the gut microbiota are related to various mental illnesses.

    The Gut and Alzheimers

    Similar to depression and anxiety, further studies have also shown that a deficiency in folate and vitamin B12 in the gut can lead to problems with memory.

    Experiments were also conducted on rats, and findings showed that rats who were deficient in these minerals presented with worsened and impaired memory function. When a high-fat diet was also introduced to the rats, it further worsened the memory impairment.

    The experimental rats could not remember their way out of a water maze. The research altered the way the rats’ guts worked, and the result was the development of Alzheimer’s Disease.

    How to Help Your Gut

    A healthy diet can help your brain and your GI tract

    Many of these research and findings have only pointed to one thing for mental health patients. Treat the gut, and create harmony and balance in it, and you just might be on the way to improving mental health diseases. The following are a few tips to help you heal your gut:

    • Take probiotics
    • Eat healthier, balanced diets
    • Exercise frequently
    • Eat more fiber
    • Chew your food properly and drink lots of water
    • Talk with your psychologist and nutritionist before you make dietary changes to avoid complications.


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