A new study links autism-like social behaviors in mice to the absence of a single species of bacteria. What’s even more interesting is that the study authors were able to reverse some of the mice’s behavioral deficits by restoring those bacteria in the guts of the affected mice.
What’s the link between the gut and the brain?
Although this may sound like a new concept, the idea that our gut’s health influences our mental health dates back more than 100 years ago. It is now known that the gut and the brain communicate with each other via the gut-brain axis in a bidirectional manner: the brain influences gastrointestinal and immune functions involved in shaping the gut’s microbiome while bacteria in the gut produce neuroactive compounds such as neurotransmitters that act on the brain. For instance, research indicates that gut microbes stimulate the host’s intestinal cells to produce the neurotransmitter serotonin.
Since an imbalance in serotonin can influence mood and cause depression, it comes as no surprise that an unhealthy gut can cause behavioral issues and symptoms of depression. In fact, research indicates that probiotics can help ward off depression.
The study details
Researchers studied the relationship between ASD, maternal obesity and the microbiome in this study.
Read more here at our Nourishing Hope website, dedicated to using food and nutrition to improve autism and ADHD.