Biomedical research continues to find important links between the brain and the stomach. One of the latest findings is a link between bacteria in the stomach and brain cell activity.
Once again a well-known idiom comes to mind, “you are what you eat.” Food has a tremendous influence on stomach flora. Flora will yield chemicals, travel to the brain, and when there, will signal particular cells. The signaled cells may produce a variety of activity. One possible outcome is suppressing inflammation.
Considerable research on gut-brain connection is being conducted at several medical school worldwide. Findings are showing more evidence that there is a distinct connection between the gut and the brain. Depression, mood, autism, anxiety, and now most recently multiple sclerosis convey a link between the brain and gut.
Dr. Francisco Quintana and his team working in the Ann Romney Center for Neurological Diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital used mouse models of multiple sclerosis to show that stomach bacteria and diet can affect brain cells.
One particular cell that is abundant in the brain is astrocytes. They have several functions that include producing proteins that recruit immune cells turning them into inflammatory cells, and produce molecules that devastate neurons, leading to neural degeneration. Quintana’s research is led to consider that astrocytes are one of the leading causes of inflammation in the brain. His research is focused on multiple sclerosis, but his research could have a profound impact on other neurological diseases as well.
The gut-brain connection is complex. Quintana has isolated one molecular pathway. Ingesting tryptophan affected gut bacteria that in turn affected this pathway. The more tryptophan present, astrocytes were able to dampen brain inflammation. But eating more tryptophan containing foods (turkey is common) alone is not the answer. Still much work needs to continue to gain further understanding.
Additional blogs will be written to enlighten you on the importance of the gut-brain connection. More importantly, what you can do to help yourself with this important link.