BY Jennifer Hopper October 30, 2019
As research into the gut microbiome explodes, so too does the science around how the gut microbiome interacts with other organs of the body - including the brain. The big question is: how do the two get chatting, and what does it mean for your mental health?
The ‘gut-brain axis’ is a term used to describe the complex network of communication between the gut and the brain, which incorporates branches of the nervous system, and chemical messengers from the immune and endocrine (hormonal) systems.
While that all sounds complicated, the truth is it’s very complicated!
The central nervous system and the enteric nervous system (that’s the system of nerves that govern the control of the gastro-intestinal tract) are in constant contact and can trigger reactions both emotional and physical. In fact, the signalling between the two systems has been found to be so profoundly entwined that researchers believe the relationship could influence the development of neurological and mental disorders.
It is important to note, however, that studies in this area are still in their infancy. Still, more research is required to establish how the gut-brain axis works and how it can affect behavior, mood, and wellbeing. What is understood, though, is that the gut microbiome can be manipulated to benefit our health. That makes a great case for making sure your diet is helping your friendly microbes.
So while your own personal gut-brain axis may still be speaking in whispers, the overall message is loud and clear - keeping your gut healthy can profoundly benefit your body and mind.