Surprising connection between depression and intestinal health

depression and intestinal health

depression and intestinal health

Surprising connection between depression and intestinal health

The connection of depression and intestinal health

Did you know that your gut health can affect your mood and behavior? The belief that gut health is related to mental well-being is more than a hundred years old. In the early 1900s, scientists and physicians emphasized the relationship between the gut and mental health.Interest in gut health has never been stronger. Studies on the gut microbiota revealed that there is a close relationship between behavioral problems, mood swings, and bacterial imbalance. There are a number of factors that affect the condition of the gut microbiota and gut flora . Especially the diet should be emphasized. The health of the immune system also plays a big role.

How the intestine is connected to the brain

The gut is connected to the brain via the vagus nerve , the enteric nervous system and the gut-brain axis. The vagus nerve extends from the brainstem down into the neck, thorax and abdomen. The nerve leaves the brain stem through root tips in the medulla , which are caudal to the root tips of the 9th cranial nerve. The vagus nerve supplies all the organs except the adrenals with motor parasympathetic fibers from the neck to the second segment of the transverse colon . The nerve helps to regulate heart rate, language, sweating and various gastrointestinal functions.

The enteric nervous system connects to the central nervous system. It contains 200-600 million neurons. Local and centrally projected sensory neurons in the intestinal wall monitor mechanical conditions in the intestinal wall. Local circuit neurons, on the other hand, integrate this information. This allows the motor neurons to affect smooth muscle activity in the intestinal wall and glandular secretions such as digestive enzymes, mucus, gastric acid and bile.  

The enteric nervous system is referred to as the “second brain” because of its ability to operate autonomously and communicate with the central nervous system through the parasympathetic nervous system (ie, via the vagus nerve) and the sympathetic nervous system.

Finally, the gut-brain axis consists of bidirectional communication between the central and enteric nervous systems. This connects emotional and cognitive centers of the brain with peripheral bowel functions. There is strong evidence from animal studies that intestinal microorganisms can activate the vagus nerve and play a crucial role in mediating effects on the brain and behavior.

The role of bacteria in depression and anxiety

Research has shown that the gut microbiota influences the chemistry and behavior of the brain. As an example: people who one irritable bowel syndrome have (IBS), often also suffer from depression and anxiety. The interaction between intestinal bacteria and depression goes both ways. For example, in a 2009 study, male young rats were exposed to certain stress by being separated from their mothers. This changed the intestinal microbiota of the rat. Although the kittens were separated for only 3 days daily for 11 days, the researchers concluded that this adverse event could increase their susceptibility to disease later in life.

Intestinal microbiota affect the production of serotonin and dopamine. In fact, more than 90% of the body’s serotonin is found in the gut. Serotonin is an important regulator of gastrointestinal motility. Serotonin is also one of the “feel-good neurotransmitters” and contributes to well-being and happiness. In fact, the enteric nervous system uses more than thirty neurotransmitters, including serotonin, dopamine and acetylcholine. In a study from 2014, depressive rats were given some probiotics. After some time, a more positive behavior could be observed. The researchers found that the rats were more active and reunited with other rats. In this case, it seems that the use of probiotics has had a therapeutic effect on the rats.

How can we restore our intestinal flora?

A healthy diet is one way to promote a healthy gastrointestinal tract. Focus your diet on fruits and vegetables and add fermented foods such as kefir and yogurt. In addition, you can take a cure with probiotics to promote a healthy intestinal flora.

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