They say truth is stranger than fiction.
And when it comes to the unseen world of bacteria in our digestive system, I’m inclined to agree.
Just a few short years ago, no one could imagine that our belly bugs would be the focus of so much attention.
But we’re beginning to understand that what scientists call our microbiome has a HUGE effect on our overall health.
And now, like a story straight out of the pages of science fiction, scientists say they’ve found strong evidence that intestinal bacteria are influencing our moods.
Belly bugs may influence your mood
We have nearly two THOUSAND unknown bacteria living in our guts. Add to that all the ones we have identified and, well, let’s just say that’s a whole lot of bugs.
Organizations such as Belgian’s Flemish Gut Flora Project (FGFP) are helping us unravel their mysteries. And recently they made a stunning discovery.
They say if you’re suffering from depression, your GUT could be to blame.
Because according to their new study depression isn’t JUST a brain issue… it’s likely a BELLY issue too.
If that idea sounds a bit familiar, you’re not imagining it. I’ve been talking about a connection between belly bugs and mood for years now.
But researchers have finally started to tackle the idea. And now we even know exactly which bugs are likely involved.
Gut bacteria levels linked to depression
Using high-tech DNA sequencing researchers analyzed the belly bacteria of 1,054 folks enrolled in the FGFP.
They bumped that data up against quality of life scores and depression status. And that’s when they spotted it.
The levels of several specific belly bugs appeared to be rising or falling in tandem with folk’s depression levels and quality of life scores.
The bacteria seemed to be directly influencing people’s moods.
And as bizarre as that sounds it WASN’T a coincidence. The researchers repeated the experiment with a new group and got the SAME results.
Folks in both groups who were fighting depression consistently had LOWER levels of two specific bugs…
And it didn’t matter whether they were taking an antidepressant or not.
The happy go lucky types, on the other hand, had HIGHER levels of…
So what’s going on here?
Well, we don’t know exactly yet. But scientists have some ideas.
Gut health is critical to brain health
Both coprococcus and faecalibacterium help produce a fatty acid called butyrate. And butyrate supports brain health and fights systemic inflammation.
Plus we now know that gut bacteria can communicate with your nervous system. And they can influence the production of the “feel-good” brain chemicals, dopamine, and serotonin.
Since this study wasn’t designed to prove cause and effect, we can’t say belly bugs are THE cause of depression yet.
But this new research is the strongest evidence yet that gut bacteria can influence mental health.
And regardless of whether we are talking about the chicken or the egg here, one thing is clear. Taking care of your gut health is critical.
And it COULD keep your brain healthy too.
Care for your GUT to support your BRAIN
Luckily caring for your microbiome is probably easier than you think. Start with these four easy steps…
Eat a healthy diet: Keep your belly bugs happy by feeding them what they love most. Load up on foods rich in prebiotic fiber so your gut bacteria can produce the nutrients that help keep you healthy. Leafy greens, fruit, and legumes are all good sources.
Cut the right foods out: Added sugars and processed foods throw your gut flora out of balance. Dump them from your diet.
Get a good night’s sleep: Studies show consistently getting enough good quality sleep can help keep your microbiome healthy and balanced. Which means your gut bugs can send the right signals to your brain.
Pop a probiotic: Since low levels of bacteria can be the source of many health problems, make sure your gut is well-populated. A high-quality probiotic can help keep everything balanced.
Be kind to your belly bugs and your brain could benefit too.