Gut Instinct: Brains on Bacteria

Man meditating holding phone with digestive system and brain shown as connected.


You are what you eat, or so many people have been told. Researchers today are discovering that this age-old saying may be even more true that previously thought. “The Human Microbiome Project (HMP) was a United States National Institutes of Health (NIH) research initiative to improve understanding of the microbial flora involved in human health and disease”(7). Actually, the human microbiome project is a continuing effort of scientists from across the globe working together to better understand how all of the microbiological members of the immediate human environment (the microbiome) interact with our daily lives. The human microbiome is vast network of trillions of microorganisms that live in and on the human body including bacteria, fungi, parasites, and viruses(9). According to the National Institute of Health’s website, the human body is made up of 1-3% of microorganisms by mass(1).    Continue reading “Gut Instinct: Brains on Bacteria”

Do the microbes in your gut affect cognitive and behavioral development?

Blue puzzel pieces with a brain, the gut, neurons, and bacteria on separate pieces. Almost interlocking.
Figure 1. Puzzle pieces connecting gut and microbes and the brain (Image courtesy of Jennifer Franklin).


Neuronal development is especially critical in adolescent years (Paus, 2005; O’Connor & Cryan, 2014). Consequentially, this time is also when doctors see the onset of mental illness and behavioral abnormalities that include, but are not limited to, anxiety and mood disorders (O’Connor & Cryan, 2014; Paus, Keshavan & Giedd, 2008). The causal relationships of these atypical behaviors that are seen in mental illness have long been debated. Some scholars believe deficient diets lead to cognitive and short-term memory disabilities (Bondi et al, 2014), whereas others suggest that errors in the human genome could affect brain development and induce mental illness (Guo et al, 2009). In recent years, researchers have brought forward the idea that the microbes in our gut could influence the development of our brain. Continue reading “Do the microbes in your gut affect cognitive and behavioral development?”