Our microbiome, which is all the good bacteria, viruses, and fungi, communicate with the brain and our brain communicates with them through different routes. The Vagal nerve leaves our brain stem and wires up our internal organs that you would see in our abdomen. There is a lot of back and forth talk between the microbes and the brain via that large nerve. Also, the immune system, tryptophan metabolism, and the enteric nervous system, involve microbial metabolites. The important ones are short-chain fatty acids and branched chain amino acids.
Anything that affects the health of the microbiome will affect the rest of the body. The enteric nervous system has been nicknamed the second brain. You heard the expression gut feeling and indeed you should trust your gut instincts. Well if any are left from modern life’s constant assault on what makes us human, which is the bacteria in our guts. They live somewhat of an independent life down there, but they have a tremendous affect on our nervous system and we know now that just our thoughts from our fragile nervous system can greatly effect them.
Microbes create many of the key metabolites our body uses for many functions. Our cells are like little factories pumping out different compounds and so are our microbes. Gut bacteria create hormones and help produce neurotransmitters. The gastrointestinal tract is considered to be the largest endocrine organ in mammals. Neurotransmitters and hormones once only associated with the brain, such as serotonin, norepinephrine, epinephrine, and dopamine, are active in the gut. They regulate and control blood flow, gut motility, nutrient absorption, the gastro intestinal innate immune system, and the microbiome.
Our gut microbiome produces our main supply of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). Chronic stress is linked to low levels of SCFAs. These short chain fatty acids are metabolites produced by our bacteria when they digest fiber in the colon. Americans eat about 80% less fiber than our recent ancestors.
Both SCFAs and the vagal nerve play roles in potential pathways that influence the gut-brain axis. SCFAs interact with the brain by inducing the secretion of gut hormones, including gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and serotonin. GABA is an amino acid that can produce a calm state. Serotonin is a feel good neurotransmitter. If our microbes aren’t creating SCFAs because you are not eating your vegetables and most likely eating stuff that is not really food, you’re going to wind up asking your doctor for some drugs you saw on T.V. and almost all of the 250,000 drugs on the market do not create health. They create good customers. Organic vegetables have a lot of the probiotics sold as formulas in stores. Probiotics require prebiotics which is fiber.
The short chain fatty acids influence inflammation in the central nervous system and play a part in making new brain cells. That is new because most doctors were taught that brain cells do not come back. Again, they contribute to the production of serotonin, and improve neural homeostasis and function. That is very important. SCFAs’ influence on the brain can impact emotion, cognition, and changes associated with disease and injury.
Emotional stress can impair all of this. If you are like me and watch the news, you’re not going to feel good afterwards. Ignorance is bliss and sadly for myself, I can’t remain ignorant, but I try and laugh off all of the bad news and I think that is helping. There is a lot of young people very depressed these days. Not sure if that is because they legalized very strong marijuana, went to college, both?, but they also have guts that have been under attack since they were born. The modern world has convinced us to use hundreds of methods to kill the bacteria that work to keep us alive. Even just using hand wipes can lower your health quotient. Antibacterial products should be called anti human. Additionally, recent studies reveal that all of the anti depressants Americans are taking don’t seem to work so well. As I said around 42 years ago, if you want to be healthy eat dirt. That means organic salads. Fruits as well while you’re in the produce department. About 18 billion pounds of Glyphosate has been sprayed into our food system and most of it in the past decade. It is known to destroy the microbes that make the SCFA’s that help make our feel good hormones. No wonder why everyone is depressed.