Do you know that feeling you get in your gut? It turns out your gut may really be trying to tell you something. Our microbiome – the 100 trillion bacteria and organisms living in our gut – appears to have a profound influence on our health and risk of disease. And early scientific studies show there may be a link between the microbiome and the brain that could impact the risk of Alzheimer’s and other brain diseases.
The microbiome is a collection of bacteria, viruses and fungi that live mostly in our intestinal system. They play an important role in digestion and the production of certain vitamins, and they support our immune system. Researchers around the world study the gut microbiome, especially those bacteria unique to individuals, to learn more about their influence on our overall health.
I am a chocolate lover. I have some every day of my life. Granted, what I consume are small quantities which I devour slowly and let simply melt in my mouth. I also know that dark chocolate has more benefits than the sweet milk chocolate of my childhood. Herewith, Medical News Today‘s take on the dark delight.
Chocolate lovers, rejoice; the sweet treat is not only delicious, but studies show that it can also promote friendly bacteria and reduce inflammation in our guts. But first, some background: trillions of bacteria live in our guts. They contribute to our immune system, metabolism, and many other processes essential to human health.
When the delicate balance of microbes in our intestines is disturbed, it can have serious consequences.
I traveled recently for an extended period of time. I ate airport food, I visited tons of restaurants, and I stocked my hotel room with quick packaged snacks.
It’s travel, right? So not a problem. Right?
Ok, so I get back home and happily revert back to my normal diet. Then I proceed to spend the next 2 days with bloating, abdominal pain, and various other gastrointestinal unmentionables.
I was fine, though sub-par, on the crappier diet and then felt pretty darn bad on the healthier one. And this isn’t unheard of when people make more long-term changes to picking a more nutritious diet.
What’s the deal with that?
What it comes down to, as is the case with so many common health problems, is our gut bacteria. Turns out, several days of different exposure to our gut bacteria is enough to make a big difference in the quality, quantity…
“Many of us have a container of yogurt in our refrigerator that we may eat for enjoyment, for calcium, or because we think it might help our health in other ways,” says Kirsten Tillisch, MD, an associate professor of medicine at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine and the lead study author. “Our findings indicate that some of the contents of yogurt may actually change the way our brain responds to the environment.”
UCLA researchers now have the first evidence that bacteria ingested in food can affect brain function in humans. In an early proof-of-concept study of healthy women, they found that women who regularly consumed probiotics through yogurt showed altered brain function both while in a resting state and in response to an emotion-recognition task.
The study, conducted by scientists with UCLA’s Gail and Gerald Oppenheimer Family Center for Neurobiology of Stress and the Ahmanson-Lovelace Brain Mapping Center at UCLA, appears in Gastroenterology.
The discovery that changing the bacterial environment, or microbiota, in the gut can affect the brain carries significant implications for future research that could point the way toward dietary or drug interventions to improve brain function, the researchers say. “Many of us have a container of yogurt in our refrigerator that we may eat for enjoyment, for calcium, or because we think it might help our health in other…