It’s all in your gut?
I’m sure we have all heard it at one point or another – “It’s all in your head.”
Research is showing that microbiotia (or gut flora) are important for healthy brain function. There is a large amount of research being done on how gut flora can effect diseases from obesity to inflammation.
This post will focus on dysbiosis (microbial imbalance within the body) and its relationship to anxiety. The key points of research around gut health and anxiety, show that changes between beneficial and disease-causing bacteria in the gut can alter brain chemistry and can lead to increased anxiety.
Some of the key functions of gut flora include:
- regulation of digestion and metabolism (They can help make your bowel movements regular)
- extraction of nutrients and vitamins from foods (More nutrients and vitamins allow for better overall health and improved immune function)
- maintain gut lining to protect from invaders (We all come in contact is microbes on a daily basis so gut lining is important at keeping illness at bay)
- beneficial microbes prevent harmful bacteria from setting up shop (Helicobacter pylori a bacterium that causes ulcers and increases risk of stomach cancer can be prevented by good bacterial flora.)
The function of gut flora that is most interest for individuals who suffer from anxiety due to its ability to produce neurochemicals, which the brain uses to regulate processes such as learning, memory and mood. The gut bacteria in turn manufacture about 95 percent of the body’s supply of serotonin (happy brain chemical), which influences both mood and GI activity.
Take home message – since harmful bacteria can increase anxiety, re-balancing the good bacteria in the gut through use of probiotics can be just one step toward the improvement of anxiety. Similar research is demonstrating that other depression will also respond well to good gut bacteria.
Next post will focus on sources and types of probiotics.
This post is for educational purposes only, and not meant to replace a visit with a health practitioner.