Enteric nervous systems, probiotics, beneficial bacteria, and “wheat belly.” All of these are relatively new developments in our understanding of the gut or the complex system of digestive organs and glands combined with numerous metabolic processes that dictate the energy that fuels our cells. Even more recently is a startling new discovery of just how intricate the health of the gut has on the brain, and, more importantly, the blood vessels that supply blood to our brain.
A recent study published in Nature has been looking at the puzzling occurrences of what can be described as bubbles or pockets of blood that form off of blood vessels in the brain. These pockets can often be dangerous as they can burst and lead to strokes and blood clots. These are called “cerebral cavernous malformations” and can affect up to every 1 out of 100 people. The difficult part of diagnosing the malformations is that the occurrences are dictated partly by a genetic mutation, and also, by the bacteria in the gut!
But, the research is only one the beginning of looking at the malformations, because the study focused on researching the disease in mice. While conducting the research, scientists found that it was not just a gene mutation that caused malformations, but also found that there was a species of bacteria that was possibly contributing to the malformations. They realized this by eliminating the gene mutation, but still finding malformations in the mice, discovering that a specific bacterial species carried a substance the signaled to the brain that created malformations in the brain’s bloodstreams.
When the mice’s bacteria was wiped out by antibiotic treatments, researchers then replaced them with other beneficial bacteria. This treatment meant that no more new malformations existed. While a similar gene mutation can be identified in humans, this is a new discovery into the complex relationship that our guts have on the rest of our bodies. This study comes at a time when fecal transplants are becoming more frequent as treatments for various digestive issues. They act as colonies of beneficial bacteria that can bolster the digestion and overall health of the body. For instance, there is evidence that probiotics can help increase insulin sensitivity, which can reduce the impact and complications that stem from diabetes.
While more research on brain health and bacteria in the gut needs to be done, the evidence points to finding out more about the exciting mystery that is gut health as it relates to the brain and immune vitality. In the meantime, we recommend eating plenty of saturated fats and fermented, low carb vegetables for a long and healthy life!