Gut bacteria may have impact on mental health, study says | Science | The GuardianBackground: In recent decades, dominant models of mental illness have become increasingly focused on the head, with mental disorders being figured as brain disorders. However, research into the active role that the microbiome-gut-brain axis plays in affecting mood and behaviour may lead to the conclusion that mental health is more than an internalised problem of individual brains. Objective: This article explores the implications of shifting understandings about mental health that have come about through research into links between the gut microbiome and mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. It aims to analyse the different ways that the lines between mind and body and mental and physical health are re-shaped by this research, which is starting to inform clinical and public understanding. Design: As mental health has become a pressing issue of political and public concern it has become increasingly constructed in socio-cultural and personal terms beyond clinical spaces, requiring a conceptual response that exceeds biomedical inquiry. This article argues that an interdisciplinary critical medical humanities approach is well positioned to analyse the impact of microbiome-gut-brain research on conceptions of mind.
Gut bacteria may have impact on mental health, study says
The ENS is two thin layers of more than million nerve cells lining your gastrointestinal tract from esophagus to rectum. Researchers are finding evidence that irritation in the gastrointestinal system may send signals to the central nervous system CNS that trigger mood changes. This new understanding of the ENS-CNS connection helps explain the effectiveness of IBS and bowel-disorder treatments such as antidepressants and mind-body therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy CBT and medical hypnotherapy. By now, we know that a healthy diet is important for physical well-being. Researchers are studying whether probiotics — live bacteria that are safe to eat — can improve gastrointestinal health and your mood. Pasricha says research suggests that digestive-system activity may affect cognition thinking skills and memory , too.
The microbiome in our guts, populated by billions of bacteria, appears to play a significant role not only in our digestive health, but also our mental health. Exactly how this happens is still being worked out, with each new study turning over another proverbial rock of possibilities. Another recent study suggests that gut bacteria may influence anxiety and depression. This study was conducted with mice raised in a sterile, germ-free environment devoid of bacterial influence. Researchers exposed these mice to gut bacteria and watched what happened compared to mice that were raised in a normal, germy environment. The researchers identified a specific brain region influenced by the bacteria, and suspect that our early-life exposure to bacteria may predispose us one way or another to anxiety and depression later on. After all, if we have even an inkling that gut bacteria affect our brains and we certainly have more than an inkling at this point then why not jump onboard the probiotic supplement express?
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How did we first discover this connection?
Microbes that set up home in the gut may have an impact on mental health, according to a major study into wellbeing and the bacteria that live inside us. Researchers in Belgium found that people with depression had consistently low levels of bacteria known as Coprococcus and Dialister whether they took antidepressants or not. Jeroen Raes of the Flanders Institute for Biotechnology and the Catholic University of Leuven drew on medical tests and GP records to look for links between depression, quality of life and microbes lurking in the faeces of more than 1, people enrolled in the Flemish Gut Flora Project. He found that two kinds of bugs, namely Faecalibacterium and Coprococcus , were both more common in people who claimed to enjoy a high mental quality of life. Meanwhile, those with depression had lower than average levels of Coprococcus and Dialister. The study reported in Nature Microbiology does not prove that gut microbes affect mental health. But in follow-up experiments, Raes and his team found evidence that gut microbes can at least talk to the human nervous system by producing neurotransmitters that are crucial for good mental health.