Gut microbes in people with IBS linked to brain structure

There has been some really interesting research done recently on how the bacteria in your gut affects your overall physical and mental health.

Amazingly, researchers have found that some people with mental disease have abnormal gut bacteria. When they normalise the gut, the mental disease is minimised or even cured. But that’s a topic for another day.

One of the other things they have found is that people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, the bacteria in the gut can affect certain areas of the brain that process sensory information, and those areas of the brain can affect the gut bacteria. The full article can be found here. Amazingly, the research also found connections between childhood trauma, brain function and the makeup of gut bacteria.

UCLA researchers collected data, including structural brain images from 29 adults diagnosed with IBS, and 23 healthy control subjects. They quantified the makeup of gut bacteria including the composition, abundance and diversity bacteria. They then cross-referenced these gut microbial measures with structural features of the brain.

Based on the composition of the microbes in the gut, the samples from those diagnosed with IBS clustered into two subgroups. One group was indistinguishable from the healthy control subjects, while the other differed. Those in the group with an altered gut microbiota had more history of early life trauma and longer duration of IBS symptoms.

The two groups also displayed differences in brain structure. The researchers suggest that it is possible that the signals the gut and its microbes get from the brain of an person with a history of childhood trauma may lead to lifelong changes in the gut bacteria. These alterations in the gut bacteria may feed back into sensory brain regions, altering the sensitivity to gut stimuli, a hallmark of people with IBS.

Amazing huh! Who would have thought that your brain would affect your gut, and vice versa!

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