Gut Bacteria and Your Health
- Posted on: Jan 6 2015
Neurobiologists at Oxford University have discovered that there is a connection between anxiety and gut bacteria in humans, and it was revealed that prebiotic supplements have an effect on mental health and brain function by reducing the anxiety on an individual. Currently prebiotics, as well as probiotics, are increasingly being studied for their effect on anxiety and depression symptoms. This is exciting news because previous research has primarily been conducted on mice, in which it was documented that altering gut bacteria has an anxiety reducing effect on them, but this study is one of the first to examine this phenomenon in humans!
In order to test the effectiveness of prebiotics, the researchers took a group of 45 healthy adults and had some take either a placebo or a prebiotic every day for three weeks; when the three weeks were over, tests were given to assess how they processed emotional information, and the results revealed that compared to the placebo group the prebiotic subjects paid less attention to negative stimuli and paid more attention to the positive. In addition, it was also discovered that the prebiotic subjects also had lower levels of cortisol, the stress hormone linked with anxiety and depression, in their saliva. Research like this proves that the gut-brain connection is a two-way street, as there have been cases where an individual who has never suffered from depression or anxiety is suddenly faced with these maladies when problems start to arise in their gut. Further research is still needed, but this is exciting news for those who suffer from anxiety and depression!
Turns out gut bacteria can affect more than your mental health, read on to learn some other ways gut bacteria affects your health:
- Research suggests that weight is influenced by gut bacteria, one recent study discovered that lean people have a gut flora that is much more diverse than the flora found in obese people.
- Although the findings are preliminary, a recent study has shown that when foods high in fat and cholesterol are consumed, a compound called trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO) is produced in the stomach when these foods come into contact with the bacteria in the gut. Individuals with elevated TMAO present in their blood are more likely to suffer a heart attack, stroke, and it can lead to an early death.
- A 2012 study showed that babies that are fed breast milk have more diversity in their gut bacteria; in addition, they were able to find the link between the genes that were activated in the babies’ gut flora, and the genes that were activated in their immune system. This is one of many studies that demonstrate the role between gut bacteria and the development of a fully-functioning immune system.
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