Feeling depressed? Having issues focusing? Dealing with anxiety? You might think it’s all just in your head, but did you know these things might be connected to your “second brain”? What’s that? It’s your gut.
Why your gut is said to be your “second brain.”
Your gut is lined with around 100 million neurons. This is more neurons than your nervous system or spinal cord. The small brain in your gut directly communicates with your big brain.
This gut-brain link means emotional or mental issues often reveal themselves as gastrointestinal problems.
A growing amount research also shows that the connection goes in the other direction too.
Your gut bacteria can influence your brain, including your production of neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, serotonin and GABA. Neurotransmitters are crucial to emotional and mental wellness, and bad production of these are commonly found in a number of psychiatric problems.
In particular, these five conditions have been connected to bad gut health:
ADHD: A 2021 review gives evidence supporting a connection between ADHD and greater levels of bad gut bacteria. Also, in a 2019 trial, kids who had ADHD who took vitamins and minerals showed lowered levels of bad bacteria associated with this condition.
Depression: In 2019, a team of European researchers looked at the gut bacteria of depressed patients and compared them to non-depressed people. They found that depression is linked to a lack of some types of gut bacteria which were found in healthy people along with greater levels of bad bacteria typically linked with Crohn’s disease.
Anxiety: Scientific research has proven that bad gut bacteria is partly to blame. A 2019 review of 21 studies, for example. In 11 of these studies, the scientists analyzed the management of gut bacteria with probiotics and lowered anxiety symptoms.
Bipolar disorder: People who suffer from bipolar disorder usually have a greater incidence of gut problems, like inflammatory bowel disease. Researchers are increasing their investigations to review the the associations between mood disorder and gut health.
Schizophrenia: This psychiatric illness, which most people see as a problem with the brain and mind, also seems to be associated with gut problems. People with schizophrenia have lacking gut bacteria diversity and unique forms of bacteria that are not seen in other healthy patients, according to a 2019 study. In this trial, when researchers transplanted bacteria from a schizophrenia patient into mice, the lab animals started showing behaviors like to those seen in certain models of schizophrenia.
Author: Scott Dowdy