According to some scientists and other experts, there may be a definite relationship between your microbiome (the bacterial balance in your gut) and brain function. In other words, the gut may be a significant contributor to feelings of depression, and anxiety.
Recent discoveries indicate that the bacteria in your gut are constantly communicating with your brain’s central nervous system through endocrine, immune and neurological pathways.
Your Gut Bacteria Regulates Your Stress Levels!
Studies confirm that the gut bacteria are responsible for regulating how you respond to stress. They also regulate central nervous system development at critical stages. When probiotics (healthy gut bacteria) were administered to stressed out animals in experiments, the animals stopped acting anxious and their depression symptoms were significantly reduced.
Clinical studies in humans are showing similar findings. Anxiety symptoms lessen when the gut bacteria are changed to favor positive healthful bacteria, when their numbers are increased.
Part of this change occurs because of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which functions at both the brain and the GI tract of what’s called the brain-gut axis. Think of it like a railroad pathway between your brain and your gut. The gut bacteria regulate the normal functioning of this axis. They influence tryptophan metabolism, which affects the production of serotonin. Healthy serotonin calms the mind and brings you peace. When the gut bacteria is stable, the mind is more stable –it’s affected by other things as well, but the communication of the gut bacteria and the brain has a major impact.
If you never or rarely eat any foods that are raw or fermented, the chances that your gut contains enough good bacteria are low. Similarly, if you take antibiotics without replacing the gut bacteria that were killed off by the antibiotic, you could be unknowingly contributing to your own bad moods.
This Mineral Deficiency Affects Gut Health Too
Denmark scientists knew that a magnesium deficiency causes anger outbursts, anxiety, and depression. They tested what low levels would do to the gut bacteria. They put mice on a magnesium-deficient diet for six weeks and tested the animals with a light-dark box anxiety test.
This is a box that is brightly lit and open for two-thirds of the space. There’s a door in between the light and dark compartments and animals are allowed to go into either area freely.
Rodents like spending more time in the dark. But when they are given drugs that reduce anxiety, they spend more time in the light and explore new areas more frequently.
The scientists discovered that a magnesium-deficient diet altered the gut microflora and altered the anxious behavior of the mice. The rodents spent more time in the light areas of the light-dark box.
This experiment shows us that if magnesium levels are right, you can have better gut bacteria balance. Studies also conclude that better magnesium nutrient status translates to better moods, less anger and a sense of contentment. Magnesium deficiency occurs when not enough dark green leafy vegetables or nuts are consumed. Try taking a daily probiotic and magnesium supplement and see if your mood improves too!