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The gut bacteria and its communication with the brain

The human body has trillions of microorganisms from thousands of varieties that are non-human cells, which means that they have different DNA from yours: They are the famous human microbiota.

This is a fairly new field and one of the most fascinating and promising ones in modern researches! The importance of this topic can’t be overemphasised, and it definitely deserves a series of articles to give an insight into this amazing field. And if you want to continue learning, you will also find a section dedicated to it in the book "Foods for Your Brain & Emotions" available in our web, or check out the website www.gutmicrobiotaforhealth.com, that is full of information and resources.

The gut bacteria and the brain

Everything is interconnected, and even what you consider just your body is hosting many other lives inside, and needs them to function. Around 500 to 1000 different species of bacterias live in the intestines, and they are very important for your well-being, including your brain and emotional health! [1].

Researches have been trying to understand more about the communications going on between the gut and the brain for over 30 years now, and the more they know, the more they find out how complex and amazing it actually is!

Let’s lay the foundations for this. There is actually a nervous system in the belly, embedded in the lining covering the esophagus, stomach, and intestine, with over 500 millions of neurons, and is called the enteric nervous system. It controls the digestive processes and exchanges bi-directional communications with the brain, through the called gut-brain axis [2], and that’s why you have probably heard before that we may have “two brains” [3]. For a visual explanation of this, you can have a look at the diagram about gut-axis we include at the bottom of this article!

So, this communication goes in both directions between the brain and the intestine, much of it going through the famous vague nerve, and researches are trying to find out the possible relationship between this and neurological, brain-related, or behavioural conditions, suggesting that future treatments could include the manipulations of the microbiota composition.

As an example of this, last year the magazine Science trends published the article “Psychobiotics”, and the science of how gut bacteria can affect the human brain”, written by the scientists Campbell and Enck from the Tubingen University Hospital. Here they call“Psychobiotics” the possible future probiotics or prebiotics that could be used as interventions for brain-related conditions. But so far researches have been done on animals, so there is still a long way before seeing treatments like this or the next generation of probiotics [4].

The thing is, what we can learn from all this is that keeping a healthy gut is important, maybe for more reasons that we are probably aware of today. So, it’s definitely worthy taking a good care of it, and that’s enough to learn for now!


[1] Elizabeth Thursby and Nathalie Juge, “Introduction to the human gut microbiota”, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5433529/, 2017 June, doi: 10.1042/BCJ20160510

[2] GMFH Editing Team, “Gut-brain axis”, www.gutmicrobiotaforhealth.com/en/gut-brain-axis/

[3] Mitchell Moffit and Gregory Brown, “What if we turned out we have two brains”, www.gutmicrobiotaforhealth.com/en/turned-two-brains/

[4] Paul Enck and Kristina Campbell at Tubingen University Hospital, Brain Health across the Lifespan: A Systematic Review on the Role of Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplements”, Science Trends, 2017 June


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