Gut Brain Link Established

The Gut Brain Connection

We all know that natural probiotics are good for our gut and digestive system and there are many experts who have been seeing this and talking about it for a long time. But what is less known is that there is a very involved connection between the gut and the brain and that these probiotics can potentially contribute positively to that connection.

The secret to good health may be as basic as keeping your gut microflora happy. 

Your gut can influence brain activity through what you eat

The gut is responsible for many aspects of your overall wellbeing and, as a less-known secret, the health of your gut can impact the emotional welfare of your brain too. It is suggested that your gut microflora can be a contributing factor to some serious illnesses, including mental illnesses and autism [1]. Now, here’s where it gets even more interesting. Recent studies have shown that eating probiotics actually altered brain functioning in study participants.

Doctor Kirstin Tillisch, one of the researchers in the study group [2] at the UCLA Division of Digestive Diseases, said that;

“We hear from patients that never felt depressed or anxious, until they started experiencing problems with their gut. Our study shows that the gut-brain connection is a two-way street.”

Doctor Tillisch’s research group looked at 36 women aged between 18 and 55 years. These participants underwent MRI scans both before and post the month-long study, where the women were separated into three different groups;

Group 1

This group consumed yogurt two times a day for one month. The yoghurt chosen for the study contained numerous probiotic strains that were considered to have advantageous impacts on intestinal health.

Group 2

This group ate a product that was made to look and taste like yoghurt, however it contained nil probiotic properties.

Group 3

This group consumed none of the product at all.

The MRI scans taken post-study showed some interesting results compared to the scans taken pre-study. The women underwent these scans while in a state of rest, as well as in response to an ‘emotional recognition task’. For this recognition task, a series of pictures were displayed to the participants who were required to match the angry or scared faces on those images with other photos displaying the same emotions.

The researchers outlined the task was undertaken to “determine the engagement of effective and cognitive brain response to a visual stimulus”. They say this was due to their findings with prior studies performed on the change of gut flora to active behaviours in animal study participants.

The researchers found that:

·       during the recognition task, the participants in group one who consumed the probiotic yoghurt, showed a decrease of brain activity in two areas that control emotion and sensation;

·       during the resting phase, this group showed a better connection to their areas linked with cognition.

·       group three, who consumed none of the product, displayed increased connectivity to their emotion and sensation-related areas.

Researchers concluded that this study was a good example of you are what you eat. Doctor Tillisch commented: “Our findings indicate that some of the contents of yogurt may actually change the way our brain responds to the environment.”

Researchers acknowledged that some previous studies had established that the composition of our gut microflora can alter our metabolism. This very study, however, demonstrated the gut's link to the brain and our emotions and sensations.

This link uncovers another reason (in addition to all other health benefits) for adding some good-quality probiotic yoghurt into your diet.

Why not explore the benefits of the gut-brain link yourself and get started on a newfound journey to probiotic goodness? Check out our full range of probiotic culture starters online here.

 

Sources:

1. NCBI: Influence of gut microbiota on neuropsychiatric disorders

2. UCLA Newsroom: Changing gut bacteria through diet affects brain function, UCLA study shows

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