by Alex Pietrowski
In recent years,
the study of causes and treatments of depression has uncovered a
link to the health of the
microbiome within the body's digestive system.
The hypothesis is
that the presence or absence of healthy digestive bacteria affects
the way the brain functions, and new
Gut Feelings are a Red Flag) by a Florida State University neuroscientist sheds more
insight into this.
The findings by
research and psychology professor Linda Rinaman point to a
very important connection between the gut and
the brain, identifying
pathways that help to understand why so-called 'gut feelings' have a
powerful influence on emotions, mood and decision-making.
these lines of research will help us better understand how
gastrointestinal functions contribute to both normal and
disordered mental function."
Her research looked
at pathways between the gut and the brain in mammals, noting how
feelings generated within the gut move into the brain, indicating
that some 'gut-feelings' are a red flag and thereby may be a fair
indicator of healthy mood and mental states.
In the human body,
vagus nerve acts as the pathway between the brain and gut.
The nerve is the
body's largest and most extensive nerve, translating and carrying
messages between the gastrointestinal tract and the brain. If the
gut is operating optimally, the brain is cued to respond more
Food and proper
supplementation are important factors.
anecdotal evidence suggests a poor diet can cause those
protective, cautionary signals to get out of whack, leading to
altered mood and behavior.
Rinaman said, a high-fat diet can promote a low-grade
inflammatory response in the GI tract, changing vagal signals
and possibly exacerbating symptoms of anxiety, depression or
other disturbed mental states.
said the types of bacteria within your gut are shaped by your
diet, and those bacteria can affect your emotional and cognitive
significance of the vagus nerve is discussed further:
indicates that a healthy vagus nerve is vital in
empathy and fostering social bonding, and it is crucial to our
ability to observe, perceive, and make complex decisions.
revealed that people with impaired vagal activity have also been
Given the state
of society today and the vast array of dis-eases associated with
unhealthy Vagus Nerves, it doesn't take a medical doctor to
conclude that by healing our collective Vagus Nerves, we can
heal a lot of societies woes.
discovered that artificial Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS),
through electrical impulses via a surgically implanted pacemaker
like device, shows promising results in reducing depression,
anxieties and even conditions such as epilepsy and obesity.
VNS has also
shown positive effects in promoting weight-loss as the signals
to the brain of 'fullness' are more easily transmitted.
But what if
there were a less intrusive and more natural way to stimulate
and heal the Vagus Nerve?"
takeaway here is that supporting healthy gut function along with
healthy function of the vagus nerve is being demonstrated to
be a potentially very potent way of holistically approaching
treatment of depression and anxiety.
that modifying the diet, perhaps by
consuming probiotics, can
impact your mood and behavioral state. That's very clear in
animal and human studies."