The relationship between your brain and gut

In this article by Gary L. Wenk PhD, he explains how your brain and the bugs in your gut have a symbiotic relationship. The chemicals produced when the gut bugs break down food influences your brain and depending on the food, that can have a good effect or a bad one.

Our brain lives in a symbiotic relationship with the bugs in our gut.  Whatever we eat, they eat.   In return, they help our brain function optimally in a variety of ways.  During the past few years, it has become increasingly apparent that in the absence of bacteria humans would never have evolved to our current level of cognitive performance.  Our brains are profoundly dependent upon a wide range of chemicals produced by these gut bugs.  For example, without these gut microbes our brains do not correctly develop the serotonin neurons that play a key role in the control of emotion (Molecular Psychiatry 2013;18:666-673)…..Clearly, the bugs in your gut can positively or negatively influence your mental function and stress response; it is definitely worth your effort to keep them very happy with a healthy diet.

Meditation can improve your brain

A meditation study led by Harvard affiliated researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital shows that meditation can change the parts of the brain associated with memory, sense of self, empathy, and stress.

“Although the practice of meditation is associated with a sense of peacefulness and physical relaxation, practitioners have long claimed that meditation also provides cognitive and psychological benefits that persist throughout the day,” says study senior author Sara Lazar of the MGH Psychiatric Neuroimaging Research Program and a Harvard Medical School instructor in psychology. “This study demonstrates that changes in brain structure may underlie some of these reported improvements and that people are not just feeling better because they are spending time relaxing.”