Although the bacteria that are in our stomachs are a million times smaller than us, they have much more control of us of what we would like to think. With 40 trillion bacteria that exceed our 30 trillion cells, it really makes you wonder who is really in charge of our bodies. When it comes down to it, the food you eat determines whether or not you or your bacteria have an opinion about how you feel.
With more studies coming to light on the second brain in our intestine, an equal amount of research is being done on the effect of intestinal bacteria on the first brain of our head. The findings are fascinating and uncomfortable. This is what science has to say about the subject and what we can do to win the fight for ultimate control.
Bacteria and the brain
Although the bacteria in question reside in your digestive tract, scientists have reason to believe that microbes can communicate and alter the way our brains work. It is believed that mental disorders such as depression, anxiety and autism are related to the microbiome that lives within us. According to a studyWhen the mice received an antidepressant or a certain strain of bacteria, they reacted similarly to stressful situations.
Both produced less hormones related to stress and persevered for longer than the control mice. When it comes to anxiety, research has found that bacterial species can reduce and induce feelings of anxiety. For example, when mice exhibiting behaviors associated with anxiety received lactobacilli and bifidobacteria, their symptoms were relieved.
However, when the bacteria of anxious mice were transplanted into mice of a calmer nature, they began to experience anxiety. Similar findings were observed in investigations related to autism. When it was discovered that most people diagnosed with autism had some type of gastrointestinal problem, researchers began investigating the possible connection between the disorder and intestinal bacteria.
What they deduced was that the autistic individuals had lower counts of Bacteroides fragilis bacteria. Interestingly, when this species of bacteria was Fed mice with symptoms of autism., his behavior improved greatly. Conversely, it is suspected that a chemical that is believed to be produced by intestinal bacteria is a factor that causes autism.
This chemical, 4-ethylphenylsulfate (4EPS), was found to be 40 times higher in the blood of mice that exhibited autism and induced these symptoms once 4EPS was injected into mice that had not experienced them before. Although these tests have been performed in mice, research in humans has also been conducted with comparable results. A study He tried to determine if the intake of a prebiotic would regulate the production of the stress hormone cortisol.
When the study participants were exposed to the words on a screen, the group that had taken the prebiotic focused more on the positive words and had lower levels of cortisol. The results even reflect those of people who take medications for depression or anxiety.
Intestinal bacteria not only have an opinion about how you feel, but they can also dictate what you eat. You may not know it, but there is a war in your digestive tract. The bacteria fight with each other for space and survival.
However, the different strains need different arsenals to fight, and that arsenal is food. Most bacteria can only live and develop from certain substances (such as fiber or sugar). Depending on the foods you eat, some bacteria will bloom more than others.
That means that if your diet is high in unhealthy foods, the bacteria that feed on them will have more presence and influence in your intestine. Once these types of bacteria are in control of your microbiome, it can be extremely difficult to change your diet to anything else. Not only will they crave that kind of food to feed themselves, but they will also start to release toxins when you deprive them of them.
That's why when sugar lovers leave the cold turkey with their favorite treats, they can feel the withdrawal symptoms. It's the way your intestinal bacteria make you eat the food you need to survive. Tests have been conducted with mice on how the lack of diversity in intestinal bacteria can change not only cravings and brain function, but also taste receptors.
This is to encourage a diet that promotes nutrition and survival of the microbes present. It's hard enough to make healthy eating decisions on your own, but when the bacteria in your stomach do everything they can to make you want all the foods you should not, it's hard to miss.
While there is still much to be done about the true relationship between intestinal bacteria and your brain, there are many things you can do in the meantime to encourage a more diverse microbiome and improve overall health. After dropping a few bad habits, this is what you can do:
The best thing for your bowel is to eat a variety of prebiotic foods. Prebiotics allow the growth and diversification of the healthy bacteria that are inside you. By eating foods such as asparagus, garlic, carrots and tomatoes, you will be on the right path to improving your digestive health. Medications such as antibiotics and birth control pills can eliminate the good and bad bacteria in your gut (not to mention that they encourage the growth of superbugs). Although it is recommended to avoid antibiotics unless it is urgent, make sure your diet is rich in foods that replenish your germs if you take one or both of these medications. Since alcohol eliminates bacteria and increases the permeability of your intestines, it is recommended to abstain or consume this substance in small amounts. To give an additional boost to your microbiome, increase the intake of fermented foods. Sauerkraut, kombuchaand the miso is loaded with the good bacteria that your intestine needs.
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