Food for Thought?
by Guest Blogger,
Tyler Kokjohn, Ph.D.
Our gastrointestinal (GI) tracts are home to billions of microbes. Microbiologists have known for a long time our guts are well colonized, but the full complexity and importance of the GI microbiome was recognized only recently. Around 1,000 different bacterial species may reside in this part of our bodies during the course of our lives (1).
The microbial universe hidden within us exerts major impacts on our physiology, development and perhaps much more (1,2). Gut microbes produce neurotransmitters (1) which may influence diverse activities such as cognitive function, social interactions and adaptive responses to stress (1,3,4). However, communications flow in both directions. The brain is hardwired into the GI tract directly by the vagus nerve and may modulate microbial activities through several mechanisms (4,5,6). Animal studies have shown that the composition and metabolic activities of the gut microbiome are sensitive…
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