The Gut-Brain Connection
When you’re healthy, bacteria (called gut microbiota) are kept safely inside your gut. For the most part, the bacteria and your gut live in harmony. Occasionally, the normal channels of communication from your gut can be hijacked by these bacteria. The gut has a bidirectional relationship with the central nervous system, this is called the “gut-brain axis”, and allows the gut to send and receive signals to and from the brain. Links have been made between this microbiota and depression, anxiety and stress. Your gut bacteria may even affect how well you sleep. There are other ways gut bacteria might affect your brain, including via bacterial toxins and metabolites, nutrient-scavenging, changing your taste-receptors and stirring up your immune system. We can imagine these symptoms would have a large impact on all parts of life, including the fun bits like exercise and recovery.
This study (Bravo, J. A., et al. 2011) found that adding a strain of the bacteria lactobacillus (which is also found in yoghurt) to the gut of normal mice reduced their anxiety levels. This effect was disappeared after cutting the vagus nerve – the main connection between brain and gut. This could suggest the gut-brain axis is being used by bacteria to affect the brain.
The biggest question that still looms large is: How do we get a healthy gut microbiome? It’s possible that we can simply eat more yoghurt (that contains strains of “healthy” bacteria) and take pre- and pro-biotics supplements. However, it may not be this simple. It’s possible that each person’s body has its own definition of healthy gut bacteria, and the path to a “health gut” is an individual pursuit. More research is needed to answer this question. BUT what we know for sure is that having a healthy gut is more beneficial that having an unhealthy gut.
(based on the article from: http://theconversation.com/gut-feeling-how-your-microbiota-affects-your-mood-sleep-and-stress-levels-65107)