Probiotics have become known for their positive effects on the digestive tract, but they now seem to be making some serious waves in the field of psychology. Researchers have now begun to confirm a definite connection between the gut and our brain, with studies having already conclusively proven that probiotics can help in the alleviating of both anxiety and depression.
HOW ARE THE BRAIN AND GUT CONNECTED?
It is not yet fully understood how exactly these two body systems relate, what is widely understood is that the gut bacteria play a key role in the production of neurotransmitters. Not surprisingly the microbes in the digestive tract partner with the body’s nervous system, providing a means to send key messages throughout the neural network and to the brain.
It is estimated that approximately 90% of the bodies serotonin production comes from the digestive tract and is catalysed by a very specific gut bacteria. This may potentially explain why certain illnesses such as IBS are connected to depression.
(RELATED POST: The importance of gut health for general wellbeing)
THE BENEFITS OF PROBIOTICS & THE BRAIN
Probiotics promote the growth and development of neurons
Compounds produced by the microorganisms in the gut stimulate the release of neural growth factors, it is these proteins that encourage the formation and survival of our nervous system cells.
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Stimulate memory and learning
Certain strains of gut bacteria produce chemicals that stimulate a sympathetic, or “active” response in targeted parts of the brain. Often associated with the regions involved in decision-making, planning, and attention.
Guide the changes in your mood
Select microorganisms help to produce mood-regulating neurotransmitters like serotonin, GABA, and melatonin.
Shift digestive patterns
Metabolites from bacteria stimulate sensory nerves in the intestines to change gut motility patterns, one of the reasons why psychiatric disorders are often accompanied by chronic digestive problems and vice versa.
This field of research is still very new, but it provides valuable insight into the complex relationships between the gut and brain. It’s a perfect marriage of both health and brain. Through the use of probiotics and functional medicine to balance the gut, we may now see a positive impact on the occurrence of depression.
For more information on balancing the gut visit www.healthrenewal.co.za
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Source: Wellness Mama and Health Renewal