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June 23, 2017
Dysbiosis and Your Brain
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Last time we left off discussing how dysbiosis is related to disease. Today we are going to discuss how your gut bacteria is related to your brains and mood.

To establish this connection, let’s take an imaginary trip to the gut. When we have the stomach flu or we get food poisoning that makes us sick, our gut tells our brain that we our sick. Our brain only knows we are ill from signals it gets directly from the gut. So our gut tells our brain, “I am sick and I don’t feel well.”

Research was done with individuals with depression and constipation. The first hypothesis was that constipation was a symptom of depression. They hypothesis assumed if the depression was treated, the constipation and gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms would improve. But treating the cognitive symptoms did not help the constipation improve. So researchers decided treat the constipation instead. They found that once the constipation improved, so did the depression.

This research showed that improving the GI symptoms improved the cognitive symptoms. They found that for individuals who were feeling depressed, the constipation and gut problems were causing depressive symptoms in their brains as well. This led researchers to think that when our gut tells our brain “I am sick,” it can cause pain and cognitive struggles as well.

This makes sense once you learn the gut has its own set of sensory cells. They function to make sure food is digested properly, regulate immunity, and notify the brain about nutrition status, stress, and inflammation. Researchers established that bad bacteria creates toxins. Toxins leak into the system and inflammation can start in the organs and rest of the body. The more bad bacteria someone has, the more toxins are created in the body. Not only can these toxins reach the brain but the GI system can release hormones that travel through the blood brain barrier and then affect mood, stress, and emotional signals. Overall hormones that affect mood and emotion and how we feel, are coming from our guts. So a gut feeling is real.

Research has shown that numerous psychiatric diseases can now be treated with probiotics in addition. Other psychiatric diseases are associated with an altered gut biome too. There are studies that have shown that good Lactobacillus strains can potentially ward off stress and anxiety, in other studies researchers noted changes in the gut biome of individuals with schizophrenia, children with Autism have higher rates of GI diseases such as Crohn’s or IBS that occur with dysbiosis that are still being studied, and researchers have shown that probiotics may actually have an anti-anxiety and antidepressant effect as well.

In our next blog, we will discuss specific tips on how to maintain a healthy gut, and ways to maximize GI and psychological health! May our gut feelings be good ones!


Goehler L. Understanding the Gut Brain: Stress, Appetite, Digestion & Mood. In: Understanding The Gut Brain: Stress, Appetite, Digestion & Mood.; 2015

To read more of our Probiotics Blog Series: follow for What is a Probiotic, What is Dysbiosis, Dysbiosis and Disease, and Rebuilding the Gut After Antibiotics.

Written by Andy Miller

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