Bugs and Brains


We used to think the only interaction that bugs and brains had were on those rare occasions that pathogenic bacteria and viruses cross the (mostly) impenetrable blood brain barrier causing infection and inflammation. Thankfully this is rare. Animal models which are mostly in mice suggest that gut microbes can influence behaviour and potentially psychology. In humans, the studies are still at the stage of showing associations between gut microbial patterns and a disease. Researchers still don’t know whether a different microbiota is a cause of the disease or an effect of having the disease. The so-called which came first dilemma, the chicken or the egg?

The microbes in our gut produce the majority of our dopamine and serotonin (the feel good stuff!). Our gut is often referred to as our second brain. What can we consciously do to help the conversation between our two brains be a positive one? Eat the rainbow, lay off ‘food from a packet’ and highly refined sugars and if possible keep to regular meal times!

“Sleep, mood and diet are not the only things that can affect (and be affected by) our bacteria. Your lifestyle shapes your microbiome: your hygiene habits, how much you drink, what you eat, whether you smoke and what activities you do all affect the community of bacteria that live in and on you."

Meet Your Bacteria by Nicola Temple & Catherine Whitlock