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Understanding the Gut-Brain Axis: The Role of Microbiota

  1. Helping with Digestion: Gut microbiota break down complex carbs, proteins, and fats, aiding in nutrient absorption.
  2. Boosting Immunity: They play a significant role in developing and functioning our immune system.
  3. Protecting the Gut: Gut microbiota strengthen the gut barrier, preventing harmful pathogens from entering our bloodstream.
  4. Producing Neurotransmitters: They produce important neurotransmitters like serotonin and GABA, which are vital for brain function.

Gut microbiota communicate with the brain through several pathways:

  • Neural Pathways: The vagus nerve acts as a direct communication line between the gut and brain.
  • Immune System: Cytokines and other immune mediators produced in the gut can influence brain function.
  • Endocrine System: Gut microbiota produce hormones and neurotransmitters that can enter the bloodstream and affect brain activity.
  • Metabolic Pathways: Short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) produced by bacterial fermentation of dietary fibres impact brain health and function.

Gut Microbiota and Mood

  1. Stress Hormones: Chronic stress can alter gut permeability and the composition of microbiota. Stress hormones like cortisol can disrupt the gut barrier, leading to a condition known as “leaky gut,” which allows harmful substances to enter the bloodstream.
  2. Autonomic Nervous System: The autonomic nervous system, which regulates involuntary physiological functions, can influence gut motility, secretion, and blood flow, affecting the habitat of gut microbiota.
  1. Anxiety and Digestion: Anxiety and other emotional states can affect digestive processes, leading to conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). IBS patients often exhibit gut dysbiosis, suggesting a strong brain-gut interaction.
  2. Depression and Microbiota: Depression can alter eating habits and sleep patterns, significantly impacting gut microbiota. Antidepressants also affect the composition of the gut microbiota, indicating a complex interplay between treatment and gut health.


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