Gut Flora and Mental Health

dreamstime_s_35272610The human body is home to about 100 trillion micro-organisms — that means there are about 10 times as many bacteria, fungi and viruses as human cells in your body. Increasing evidence shows these microbes play a significant role in our health, both physical and mental.

Researchers have long known that gut bacteria influence brain function. There is evidence of interplay between hormones, the intestinal bacteria, pro-biotics and mental functions. An imbalance in bowel flora may lead to depression, anxiety and mental illness.

Just as there are neurons in the brain, neurons are also in the gut. These neurons produce neurotransmitters like serotonin, which are also found in the brain. In fact, the greatest concentration of serotonin, which is involved in mood control, depression and aggression, is found in the intestines, not the brain. It’s quite possible that this might be one reason why anti-depressants, which raise serotonin levels in your brain, are often ineffective in treating depression, whereas proper dietary changes can often improve anxieties or depression related behavior naturally.

Gut bacteria play a vital role in the immune system, chronic pain conditions, diabetes, obesity and autism. By altering dietary intake to include more vegetables, fiber and pro-biotics instead of high fat and carbohydrates based diets many physical and mental conditions can be improved.  Read more…