Have you ever listened about the “Second Brain”?
Yes, you have! whenever you are told to trust your gut instinct. This brain and gut connection is not just metaphorical. An extraordinarily extensive network of neurons (more than 100 million neurons) lines our gut that scientists have named it the Second Brain.
What about the inhabitants of gut including good and bad microbial flora?
Gut microbiota weighs up to 2kg containing trillions of micro-organisms. One-third of these microbiotas is common to all people while others are specific to every individual’s gut depending on the type of diet they take in and their lifestyle.
“Gut flora is a complex community of organisms that inhabit human and animal digestive system”. Relation between humans and gut flora is mutualistic. Bacteria in the digestive system assist in nutrient metabolism, vitamin production, and waste processing. They also aid in the host's immune system response to pathogenic bacteria.
Healthy Microbiota & Healthy Brain
The gut has a bidirectional relationship with the central nervous system referred to as the “gut-brain axis”. Introduction of good bacterial strain reduces anxiety and stress level. Gut-brain axis is used by bacteria to affect the brain function. The most significant factor related to the health of microbiome -- thus, brain – is healthy food. Following are the positive influencing microbiota Lactobacillus that produce lactic acid are found in yogurt. Taking in yogurt will boost mental capacity and relieve stress, it also aids in digestion and relieves constipation. But make sure yogurt is live culture (probiotic). Bifidobacteria feast on chocolate and ferment it causing positive effects on our health and body. Dark chocolate is also very beneficial for the heart because bacteria (Bifidobacterium, LAB, yeast) ferment it into healthful anti-oxidants. Prebiotic foods including raw garlic, raw, and cooked onions allow the healthy microbiota to grow and thrive while inhibits the growth of non-healthy microbiota. Environmental toxins can disturb microbiome and have adverse effects on brain health to save ourselves from these effects, use of home filtered water should be made compulsory. Such filters should be used that remove harmful toxins like chlorine. Fermented foods like pickles, kefir, kimchi etc. are the source of Lactobacillus lactis species and defend against leaky gut. These were some healthy microbial flora and their sources having a positive effect on your body and brain.
Non-Healthy Microbiota & Whacky Gut
There are bidirectional links between stress and microbiota. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CSF) are also related to the gut microbiota. In CSF patients there is an alteration in normal microbiota resulting in symptoms as depression, neurocognitive impairment, pain and sleep disturbance. While IBS is considered as a gut-brain disorder which is worsened by stress. Researchers are investigating whether these unhealthy microbiota resulting in IBS are also the cause of mood disorders. No bacteria can be inherited as bad, when our body is out of balance it takes advantage and proliferates. Some bacteria having a bad reputation are given below Microbial imbalance as a high level of Lactobacillus can also cause mood disturbance and sleep disturbances. Staphylococcus can cause food poisoning, it can be found in unpasteurized milk and can affect when hygiene is poor. Higher levels of the bad clostridium bacteria can cause fatigue by using bidirectional gut-brain axis. By eating junk food firmicutes and bifidobacteria level falls and there is a rise in the level of bacteroidetes causing the lethargic behavior to upshot and immunity problems set in.
Healthy Gut of a Baby
It is believed that when babies are born their guts are sterile, as soon as they encounter the genitourinary tract and mother’s skin, they are exposed to microbial flora. Microbial flora is important to develop in infants or babies for normal functioning. This healthy microbial flora to a baby is also provided by mother through breastfeeding. Milk is a cocktail of healthy microbiota and immunoglobulins causing development and growth of microbial flora in infant’s gut. So it is necessary for mothers to take healthy balanced diets rich in probiotic, prebiotic and fermented foods.