Mind-altering bugs…

The day after I did my last post on the gut health another report about a  study of a particular bacteria that helped reduce anxiety came out.

From Science Now:

Hundreds of species of bacteria call the human gut their home. This gut “microbiome” influences our physiology and health in ways that scientists are only beginning to understand. Now, a new study suggests that gut bacteria can even mess with the mind, altering brain chemistry and changing mood and behavior….

…”This is pioneering work,” says Mark Lyte, a microbial endocrinologist at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in Abilene. “It’s really showing that you can alter emotional states by regulating the microbiome.” (read it here)

The findings from this study on Lactobacillus rhamnosus probably don’t reveal something unique about this particular bacteria. It might turn out that it is in fact exceptional in its anxiety-relieving effect, but I’d be very surprised if that’s the case.

What I believe the research indicates is that there is a direct relationship between overall gut health and anxiety and (my conjecture) the evolutionary mechanism would work like this: gut health is a reflection of good diet and if an animal has a poor diet it needs to be alerted to that fact before it gets so sick its got diarrhea, indigestion or vomiting. There need to be subtler measures that its consuming good food. Anxiety provokes movement so when the gut isn’t happy it’s essentially telling the brain: don’t carry on eating here — go somewhere else. When the gut is happy it then tells the brain it’s safe to go to sleep — there’s good food nearby.

The last post I shared about gut health has links to material with details on how to achieve a happy gut.

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