Scientists Reveal New Key To A Healthy Mind: Here’s What You Need To Know
From cardiac health to weight management, diabetes to premature aging, cancer to autoimmune disorders, our experience of health or disease is largely determined by the state of our gut, and our mental health is no exception!
Cutting edge research is finding that the gut communicates with the brain and has a powerful influence over both the physical condition of the brain and our cognitive function.
Although we still have much to learn about the intricate world of intestinal microbiota and their influence on our health, treatment paradigms are being overturned as we realize the scope and depth of the relationship between the gut and the brain.
In order to understand the connection between our guts and our brains, we must first understand the microbiome.
There are billions upon billions of tiny organisms living inside of each and every one of us, creatures that make their homes inside our bodies and consume our food to meet their nutritional needs.
These microscopic squatters have a tremendous influence on our day to day wellbeing and are, in fact, intricately connected to our long term health because they’ve evolved to manipulate our thoughts and behavior in order to ensure their own survival.
The microbiome consists of trillions of microscopic creatures of thousands of different species. The majority are bacteria, but there are also some fungi, parasites and viruses.
When this community is composed of the right balance of microbials, they support healthy metabolism, immune function, digestion, hormone production and cognition. But when beneficial species exist in low numbers or are completely missing, opportunistic pathogens take over.
In this case, the microbiome still has a powerful influence over many of our bodily systems, except now it has a detrimental effect on our health and wellbeing.
The good news is that, most of the time, this microscopic community is our symbiotic partner, assisting us in managing the millions of critical actions that must take place every day to maintain our homeostasis.
Although they mostly reside in a small pocket of our large intestine, our microbiota have a major influence on the function of our entire digestive tract and, in fact, influence major bodily functions like immune response, weight management and cardiac health.
The microbiome also exerts a significant influence over our brains and behavior.
Fascinating research has recently revealed direct correlations between the species at home in our guts and the personality traits that we exhibit. Specific links were established, for instance: an abundance of gammaproteobacteria were found in people who exhibit high neuroticism, and high levels of proteobacteria were found in people who displayed low conscientiousness, whereas high levels of lachnospiraceae and other butyrate-producing bacteria were found in people with high conscientiousness.
The vagus nerve directly links our vital organs to our brains. It transmits information to the brain about the condition and needs of the organs and relays signals from the brain back to the body to maintain homeostasis. The gut bacteria of our microbiome directly stimulate the vagus nerve, influencing our moods, memory and cognition.
The microbiome also produces essential neurotransmitters that regulate our cognition and emotions, including serotonin, dopamine and GABA. Serotonin governs feelings of wellbeing, contentment, satiety, anxiety and fear. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is associated with feelings of euphoria, bliss, motivation and concentration. GABA increases relaxation, reduces stress, calms nerves, balances mood, soothes pain and improves quality of sleep.
If our guts do not produce the chemicals that allow us to feel happy and at ease, we suffer from depression and anxiety. In fact, a host of mental illnesses, and even the cognitive decline associated with old age, are directly correlated to the composition of the microbiome:
- Depression & Anxiety: The microbiome influences the way we respond to stress and our susceptibility to mood disorders like depression and anxiety. Studies have revealed differences in gut microbiome compositions in both animals and humans with mood disorders. Particularly, low levels of butyrate-producing Faecalibacterium are linked to more severe depression. Also, pathogenic infections in the gut, like Campylobacter jejuni or Citrobacter amalonaticus, contribute to anxiety. Absence of beneficial bacterial species was similarly correlated with anxiety.
- Dementia & Alzheimer’s Disease: Dementia is a category of brain diseases which affect an individual’s ability to function on a day-to-day level. Alzheimer’s is the most well-known and most commonly experienced form of dementia. Dementia impairs memory and cognitive functions. New research shows that the gut microbiota directly contribute to the progression of dementia by triggering inflammation. One of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s is the buildup of amyloid plaques between nerve cells in the brain. Amyloids are fibrous clumps of protein that are linked to many diseases. Gut bacteria can produce amyloid which crosses the blood-brain barrier and impairs our cognition. Some microbiota can also release LPS, which stimulates inflammatory processes and contributes to the development of Alzheimer’s.
- Parkinson’s Disease: Parkinson’s disease is a brain disorder in which patients lose control over their muscles as brain cells die, leading to a characteristic tremor. Medical microbiologist Sarkis Mazmanian of Caltech is changing the way we think about Parkinson’s by showing that gut bacteria are involved in its development and progression. Meanwhile, microbiologist Dr. George Tetz has demonstrated that people with Parkinson’s have fewer lactic acid-producing bacteria in their guts, a broad category which includes many different species of intestinal bacteria. Dr. Tetz observed that people with Parkinson’s are particularly lacking in Lactococcus specimens.
- Memory and Aging: Short chain fatty acids, often referred to as SCFAs, are the product of fermentation of dietary fibers by bacteria in our guts. The most famous of the short chain fatty acids produced by the gut is butyrate. Butyrate produced by bacteria in our guts enters our blood stream and crosses the blood-brain barrier, where it facilitates production of Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF). BDNF supports our ability to learn, remember and form new memories. It is regarded as “fertilizer for the brain” because of the way it enhances our neuroplasticity. Loss of neuroplasticity causes the trademark mental decline associated with old age. Groundbreaking treatments are using butyrate to treat neurodegenerative diseases, depression and cognitive impairment.
The key to protecting ourselves and our families from the anguish of mental illness and cognitive decline is maintaining a healthy and diverse microbiome. Learn natural ways to eliminate pathogenic species that derange your mood, steal your energy and cloud your mind and find out how to cultivate the beneficial species that keep you happy, sharp and focused, now, and for the decades to come, in The Gut Solution. This free, limited-time, international screening will teach you everything you need to know to protect your mind now and make the most of the best years of your life.
The Healing Miracle Team
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