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How Gut Bacteria Controls Your Brain

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The bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract (gut) is often referred to as your second brain, and for a good reason. Inside your stomach is a very complex, multi-organism microbiome that consists of not only your cells but also various bacteria that help you digest your food. The most prominent bacteria are Firmicutes, Bacteroidetes, Actinobacteria, and Proteobacteria, but there are many more as well. The effects of these bacteria are currently in research, but recent scientific studies have discovered that these bacteria are not only beneficial but a necessity for survival.

The bacteria in your gut can make your basic life functions easier and overall happier in general. A study published in The Journal of Neuroscience conducted an experiment where they studied germ-free mice (in the gut) compared to mice containing bacteria. These germ-free mice displayed an exaggerated response to restraint stress and anxiety-related behaviors, which affected the overall well-being of the rat.

https://www.railyardapothecary.com/store/p248/The_Gut_Brain_Connection%3A_Learning_to_Trust_My_Gut.html

What makes it much more interesting is that gene expression of a key protein regulating neuronal plasticity and cognition was observed to have decreased, whereas a control group of normal mice with gut bacteria showed the necessity of such bacteria for survival. When the scientists re-introduced the bacteria in the gut, these effects were somewhat able to be reversed and symptoms, including neuronal cognition, were mediated; however, not all the mice with reintroduced gut bacteria were seen to recover from the symptoms and continued symptoms were especially prominent for mice that were not in early childhood/adolescence.

Scientists then applied this newly found information and analyzed human fecal matter. They began to see the effects of various dietary choices and how it affects your brain. The current focus is on probiotics, which is a $20 billion industry in today’s market, and it is promoted widely as healthy. But why?

Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

The testing of gastrointestinal tract bacteria and probiotics is relatively early in its studies, but there are specific strains that have been proven to impact your gut microbiome positively. Additional studies of groups given probiotics against groups given a placebo in hospitals measured for mood and cognition. Using the total Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, the researchers saw that the probiotics group had a higher percentage decrease versus the placebo group. These tests were based on the mood, something that is not quantifiable. However, suggested evidence tells us that probiotics help with increased mood and further, larger clinical trials are being conducted to find more evidence.

Manipulation of the microbiome in your gut is utilized for many applications, including chronic diseases and illnesses. Hepatic encephalopathy, a symptom of a chronically diseased liver, causes patients to have complications with cognitive function and patients treated by gastrointestinal tract bacteria manipulation. Antibiotics are given to help the patients because their diseased livers cannot process the gut bacteria metabolites. Reducing the bacteria that cause these metabolites to mediate the problem results in the disappearance of these metabolites, thus improving cognitive function. The bacteria microbiome here have a direct effect of the patients’ function, displaying how your gut bacteria controls your brain.

https://www.parentingspecialneeds.org/article/gut-brain-connection-special-needs/

Evidence in mice suggests that gastrointestinal tract microbiome may be not only necessary for yourself right now but also crucial for early brain development. Right after birth, the newborn is introduced to many different microorganisms, and this early microbiome is essential for the development of the early brain. A 2010 study, Normal gut microbiota modulates brain development and behavior, tested mice with different microbiome organisms to see the effects. Germ-free (GF) mice were tested versus normal mice in anxiety and exploratory activity.

Mice were tested to see if the absence of gut bacteria would affect the maturation of the brain of the mice. Key proteins were found missing from the GF mice, and later those mice experienced anxiety behaviors. Interestingly, proteins for the development of synapses were not expressed as much, which seems to lead to a long-term effect on the developing mice in motor control and anxiety. Results such as “elevated Noradrenaline (NA), Dopamine (DA), and 5-HT Turnover in the Striatum” appeared to cause the anxiety-like behaviors. In other words, mice without a bacterial microbiome saw anxiety-like behaviors due to changes in the neuronal chemistry inside the brain. This suggests that in humans early childhood, gut microbiome is important for the development of the synapses of the brain and controls the brain through gene expression leading to protein expression.

Your health, mood, and well-being may be in fact due to the microbiome that lays inside your gastrointestinal tract. Studies observed that mice gut bacteria cause anxiety-like symptoms. Eating probiotics have shown to be beneficial, but further research is still necessary. For now, understand the correlation between what you eat affects how you feel, and that your stomach bacteria plays a significant role in your health.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Curt

    January 12, 2020 at 6:15 am

    Thanks for a marvelous posting! I really enjoyed reading it, you may be a great author.I will always bookmark your blog and will come back
    someday. I want to encourage you to definitely continue your great work,
    have a nice morning!

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Fitness/ Diet

The Rundown of the Impossible Burger

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Photo Credit: pexels.com

With the human population immensely increasing each decade, the concern of utilizing all of our resources and making the Earth uninhabitable has loomed over our heads. Fortunately, back in 2011, Impossible Foods Inc. seemingly achieved the impossible, creating a plant-based burger that mimics the color, smell, and flavor of the meat. By replacing meat with plant-based “meat,” Impossible Foods Inc. hopes to reduce the harmful effects of animal agriculture on the Earth to restore natural ecosystems. Food scientists at Impossible Foods Inc. discovered that heme is the ingredient that gives meat that “meaty” flavor that people crave. Heme, located in hemoglobin, plays a vital role in animals by allowing the bloodstream to carry oxygen throughout the body. 

 A common reason why many people switch to being vegetarian and vegan is to live a healthier lifestyle. However, are these plant-based “meats” really healthier compared to their meat counterparts? The answer is not really. One of the main ingredients in the Impossible Burger is coconut oil. Although it is perceived as a “healthy” fat, coconut oil is high in saturated fat. The American Heart Association also advises against consuming coconut oil. Upon comparing the Impossible Burger to its other burger counterparts, we see the following: 

  • Impossible burger: 240 calories with 8g of saturated fat 
  • Beef burger: 280 calories with 9g of saturated fat 
  • Veggie burgers are not meant to mimic meat: 150-160 calories with 4g of saturated fat 

 The Impossible burger has fewer calories and grams of saturated fat than the beef burger; however, it contains more sodium than its meat and veggie burger counterparts. Even though the Impossible Burger may be better for the environment, they are not necessarily nutritionally healthier for consumers. The Impossible Burger is a good alternative for people who are vegetarian to reduce the consumption of animal-based foods. However, a traditional veggie burger is a healthier choice due to its low-fat content. Overall, Impossible Foods Inc. has created a viable alternative to classic burgers, striving to achieve what seems to be impossible. 

Sources: 

  1. https://medium.com/impossible-foods/the-mission-that-motivates-us-d4d7de61665
  2. https://medium.com/impossible-foods/heme-health-the-essentials-95201e5afffa
  3. https://www.cnn.com/2019/08/09/health/plant-fake-meat-burgers-good-for-you-or-not/index.html

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Lifestyle

Living Longer With a Purpose

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Having a sense of purpose sure feels good, but did you know it can also help you to live a longer, healthier life? Being inspired and having a reason to get out of bed in the morning is great for your mental health, and your mental health can make a huge impact on your physical health and well-being. But how can you learn to cultivate a strong sense of purpose in your life, especially when you’re been through trying times in the past?

Stress and trauma close your mind off to new possibilities. Rather than looking toward the future, after a trauma has occurred, oftentimes you will start to think of ways to avoid such trauma in the future. Post-traumatic stress can make you pessimistic, fearing rejection and failure and decreasing your ability to weather uncertainty. Ove time this can have a snowball effect and lead to depression and an inability to focus on your work or life.

Fortunately, there is a way through such trying times. Reframing is a technique by which you can change your perspective on difficult times in order to find a way through them. Instead of focusing on the trauma, you can think about what you learned from the trauma that will help you to become stronger in the future, thus opening yourself up to the prospect of new possibilities in life.

Cultivating a sense of purpose isn’t difficult and you don’t need special equipment. All you need to do is take stock of the important things in your life – your family, your career, your education, your hobbies, and your religious or spiritual beliefs – and work to cultivate them on a regular basis. 

It’s important to cultivate these important things together simultaneously, as placing all your eggs in one basket is a recipe for future disappointment and aimlessness. When your entire sense of purpose is wrapped up in one thing, such as your kids or your career, when the kids move out or it’s time for retirement, you can find yourself in a very hopeless place. Cultivating those things simultaneously gives you a safety net of sorts to prevent the aimlessness and hopelessness from setting in.

Having a strong sense of purpose has been proven to be good for your health, well-being, and longevity. In one study, 7000 people over the age of 50 were asked to rate their feelings of purpose in life. Those who reported a weak sense of purpose were 2.4 times more likely to die during the study than those who reported a strong sense of purpose. What’s more, 64% of people credit their health and well-being to their happiness with who they are and how they live their lives.


It’s never too late to start working on improving your life and overall well-being. Pursuing hobbies and educational activities is one of the best ways to ensure you feel a strong sense of purpose in your life – lifelong learning is a gift that should never go wasted! Learn more about the art and science of purpose from the infographic below!

The Art and Science of Purpose
Source: Online College Plan

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Lifestyle

What is Cryotherapy?

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Cryotherapy, formally defined as any treatment that uses freezing or near-freezing temperatures, has been gaining prominence in the media for its mental and physical health benefits. The most prevalent form of this treatment is a cryotherapy booth that emits cold air for about 3-5 minutes. Other therapies include facials or wands to target particular points of pain within the body. Though cryotherapy is considered to be a non-medical treatment, it has various health benefits and healing properties. Here are a couple of aspects to keep in mind: 

Proposed Benefits: 

  • Reduction in Inflammation: Cryotherapy is thought to have anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce the symptoms of diseases such as Alzheimer’s, dementia, and other cognitive impairments. It has also reportedly improved eczema symptoms. 
  • Pain Relief and Muscle Healing: Research has suggested that cryotherapy alleviated the pain from arthritis and determined that it can assist in reducing the damaging effects of vigorous exercise. Another study indicates that cryotherapy may be able to relieve muscle pain and heal injuries more effectively than other treatments available. 
  • Alleviates Migraine Symptoms: Cryotherapy on the neck has shown to reduce migraine pain

Risks: 

Cryotherapy is a novel treatment in the market. More research needs to be conducted, as potential benefits have not been proven. Consult your healthcare before undergoing cryotherapy. 

Sources: 

  1. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319740.php
  2. https://www.healthline.com/health/cryotherapy-benefits#tips-and-guidelines

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