Chances are, you have heard of healthy bacteria. While these are mostly linked to digestive health and balance, studies now show they may influence much more than that. Gut bacteria have recently been linked to brain health.
Antibiotics are vital to our fight against certain kinds of diseases. And they often are lifesavers. However, besides the side effects associated with them, antibiotics also cause quite a bit of collateral damage. They are not able to tell the good guys from the bad, and therefore kill all indiscriminately. This can have a negative effect in our brains.
Researchers recently found that extended use of antibiotic treatment may impact brain function. By wiping out gut bacteria, antibiotics were found to disrupt the growth of brain cells in mice. While studies in mice don’t always translate to human studies, these findings in this case they just might. Why?
As stated previously, healthy bacteria in the gut can affect brain function in humans. Researchers in Max-Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in Berlin, Germany, found that wiping out gut bacteria could negatively impact neurogenesis (development of new neurons). This plays an important role in learning and memory.
In a separate study, UCLA researchers found evidence to suggest that gut bacteria can affect brain function.  The small study, involving 36 women between the ages of 18 and 55, showed that women who consumed probiotics (another name for beneficial bacteria) through yogurt showed greater connectivity between a key brainstem region known as the central grey and cognition-associated areas of the prefrontal cortex in the brain. Stated the lead researcher of this study:
“Our findings indicate that some of the contents of yogurt may actually change the way our brain responds to the environment. When we consider the implications of this work, the old sayings ‘you are what you eat’ and ‘gut feelings’ take on new meaning.”
Alterations in gut bacteria has been linked to certain brain disorders including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
Probiotics supplements are turning out to be among the most important nutritional supplements for overall health and wellbeing. They are linked to digestive health, weight management, and now brain health. While probiotics are important, one should not overlook prebiotics as these are what help keep the probiotics alive in your gut.