When it comes to the delicate balance of our bodies, there’s still a lot we don’t know, and it seems like scientists are always discovering new connections with new implications for how we manage things like our diets and the amount and degree to which we exercise.
In recent years, there’s been a spate of new studies exploring the connection between our guts – that is to say our digestive systems – and our brains.
“In the mid to late 1900s, research examining stress biology and its impact on human health uncovered clear connections between and individuals stress response and gut function,” one researcher explains in the journal Cerebrum(1).
“This classical view of top-down control – that is, the brain’s ability to control gut function – is supported by evidence revealing that the brain influences body systems, including the GI tract,, through neural connections of the autonomic nervous system and through humoral systems in the blood stream… what is exciting and new is the consideration of bottom-up control – that is, how the gut, or more precisely the microbiota in the GI tract, can influence brain function.”
Good And Bad Bacteria
The gut contains a whole ecosystem of microorganisms – living bacteria that thrive in the environment of your digestive tract. But not all these bacteria are friendly. Just like a garden contains weeds which compete with flowers for space, good and bad bacteria compete for space inside your gut.
Good bacteria include clostridum butyricum, which produce important fatty acids and are beneficial to those with inflammatory bowel disease; bifidobacteria, which modulate immune responses and produce vitamins; and lactobacilli, which produce vitamins and minerals, boost immunity, and protect against carcinogens.
Bad bacteria include enterococcus faecalis, a common source of post-surgical infection; campylobacter, which cause infection through the ingestion of contaminated food such as uncooked chicken; and clostridium difficile, which cause the most damage after a round of antibiotics.
Maintaining a healthy gut can be difficult, but it’s vitally important. A healthy gut environment not only stimulates the digestive process and aids in the absorption of nutrients, but also prevents the growth of harmful, pathogenic bacteria.