You already know that everything in your body is interconnected. But according to a new study, the health of your gut has pretty massive repercussions over your mood and mental health.
Have you been feeling worried, anxious or depressed lately? The problem might not be precisely psychological, but physiological. A team of researchers at Boston’s Northeastern University discovered bacteria in our guts that eat one of our brain chemicals and depend on it for survival, according to The New Scientist.
The health of your gut, connected to depression
These bacteria, called KLE1738, discovered by Philip Strandwitz and his colleagues, consume GABA. What is GABA? A molecule with a crucial part in calming the brain. And when KLE1738 absorbs some of it, the process might be responsible for changes in our mood.
The findings of the study were announced last month at the annual meeting of American Society for Microbiology.
Strandwitz explained the experiment. The team tried to grow a crop of KLE1738, but the scientists discovered that the bacteria did not grow. Not until they fed it GABA molecules.
But how does GABA work in the body?
It inhibits signals from nerve cells and calms down the activity of the brain. When your GABA levels are way too low, you might suffer from depression and other mood disorders.
The findings of the study could be crucial in treating depression, one of the most spread and still mysterious disorders out there.
So the health of your gut is something you should be mindful of, because of all the ways we don’t know it can affect your state of mind.
The gut and the brain are connected
Another scientific experiment, conducted in 2011, found that another type of gut bacteria has a substantial impact on the GABA activity in the brains of mice. It also influences the way they respond to stress tests. When the scientists removed the vagus nerve – which links the gut and the brain – from the mice, through surgery, GABA levels remained constant.
Gut bacteria and the connection to the brain is still an under-researched field. Philip Strandwitz is trying to find any other bacteria that consumes or helps produce GABA, to test their effects on animals.
The ultimate goal is treating anxiety and depression, or at least significantly improving the lives of people who suffer from these disorders.