A Healthy Gut May Equal a Healthy Brain

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August 30, 2012
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September 4, 2012

A Healthy Gut May Equal a Healthy Brain

Did you know that your gut can tell your brain what it wants to eat?

The gut can turn on the production of the hormone ghrelin, which stimulates hunger in the brain. This hormone boosts the appeal of food in general, but specifically high fat foods.

According to Psychology Today, there is new research discovering that food exerts direct effect on neurohormones in the gut which then signals the brain. Belgian researchers found that fatty acids delivered directly to subjects’ stomachs reduced sad feelings and sensations of hunger.

Another area with growing evidence is the effect of gut bacteria on the brain. Previously, these bacteria were mainly recognized for their help in digesting food, but now the beneficial gut bacteria, or probiotics, are showing to influence our genetic makeup. From birth, there is constant communication between the brain and these bacteria. As infants, this communication not only helps shape how the brain is wired, it also affects the amygdala, which is responsible for regulating fear, and the hippocampus, which is essential for memory and learning.

The invention of refrigeration and the change in the American diet to more highly processed foods has taken away from our ancestral diet of consuming fermented foods. It’s possible that this shifting of our gut flora has created an environment more susceptible to physical ailments such as diabetes, irritable bowel disease, and immune disorders, and also to mental conditions such as depression and anxiety.

Researchers are just beginning to uncover the ways that the gut and diet affects the brain. So go with your gut on this one and feed it healthy foods that will affect your mood positively.