Did you know your gut is intricately connected to your brain? The brain needs a lot of nutrients to do its job. Not just food nutrients, but minerals and raw materials needed to help metabolic processed. If you do not have these nutrients in your diet, or your gut is too inflamed to absorb them well, you will have shortages in the brain.
Another huge aspect of the gut – brain connection is how bugs (microbes) manipulate the brain. The impact of gut microflora on brain function has again been confirmed by UCLA researchers who, in a proof-of-concept study, found that probiotics (beneficial bacteria) indeed altered the brain function in the participants.
The human body contains trillions of microbes, collectively called the microbiome. In just one person’s body, they are estimated to weigh two to six pounds — up to twice the weight of the average human brain.
Most reside in the gut and intestines, where they can help us to digest food, synthesize vitamins, and fight off infection. But their influence seems to reach the brain in a powerful way.
The benefit of a healthy gut is illustrated most effectively during early development. Research has indicated just how sensitive a fetus is to any changes in a mother’s microbiotic makeup, so much so that it can alter the way a baby’s brain develops. If a baby is born via cesarean section, it misses an opportunity to ingest the mother’s bacteria as it travels down the vaginal canal. Studies show that those born via c-section have to work to regain the same diversity in their microbiome as those born vaginally. Throughout our lives, our microbiome continues to be a vulnerable entity, and as we are exposed to stress, toxins, chemicals, certain diets, and even exercise, our microbiome fluctuates for better or worse.
The most empowering aspect to the gut-brain connection is the understanding that many of our daily lifestyle choices play a role in mediating our overall wellness. This whole-body approach to healthcare and wellness continues to show its value in our longevity, well-being, and quality of life: that both physical and mental health go hand-in-hand.