We are all familiar with the phrase “trust your gut” which suggests that our gut has deeper knowledge of life. Research is increasingly showing that gut health affects more than we previously thought it did which in turn lends credence to the saying!
For example, some studies have shown that Parkinson’s may develop from the gut and not the brain. For more information, please read here.
According to Medical News Today, a new study has revealed that about 30% of people who suffer from Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) experience depression, anxiety or both, suggesting that there is a link between gut health and mental health. Among other things, the study found that a gateway between the bloodstream and cerebrospinal fluid may close to protect the brain from inflammation during flare-ups. This may, in turn, disrupt the gut-brain axis, a communication channel between the gut and brain with possible links to mental health.
The gut-brain axis is a two-way channel of communication between the gut and the central nervous system. Microorganisms living in the gut play a prominent role in the relationship, although this study does caveat that more research and studies are necessary.
The new study found that inflammation in the gut may close a key gateway in this communication system that controls the exchange of signals between the blood and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF).
Unlike the blood-brain barrier, which prevents large molecules in the bloodstream from entering the brain, the gateway between the CSF and blood usually permits the passage of smaller molecules.
But the study found that it responds to inflammatory signals from the gut by slamming shut, presumably to prevent inflammation from spreading to the brain.
The research showed that in a mouse model of IBD, closure of the gateway disrupted memory and caused anxiety.
The research contradicts the widely accepted idea that brain inflammation in IBD leads to cognitive and psychiatric symptoms.
While we don’t yet know the full spectrum of how gut health can affect our general health, the need to look after our gut is clear.