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How Gut Bacteria Affect Your Mood

The bacteria in your intestinal tract affecting how you feel.  It sounds like the plot from a sci-fi movie.  How can the bacteria in our gut affect our thinking and feeling?

Did you know that we each have 2-3 lbs.  of bacteria living in our gut?  In terms of numbers, we have more bacteria living in our gut than we have cells in our body.  (Bacteria are much smaller than human cells).  This mass of bacteria in the gut live on the food that we eat.  They digest a part of what we eat.  And they excrete proteins as a result.  These proteins are absorbed into the body and travel via the blood to the brain.  At the brain they act like neurotransmitters and affect brain function.  This in turn impacts our thinking and our feeling.

Dr. David Perlmutter, M.D. is a neurologist whose blog who writes about the connection between the type of bacteria that live in your gut and how you think and feel.   Here is a quote from Dr. Perlmutter’s blog article:

First, the microbiota living within the intestines play a large role in creating the various neurotransmitters that have a significant effect on mood, and these include chemicals like serotonin and dopamine. Second, the gut bacteria regulate the level of inflammation throughout the body and including the brain. The chemical messengers of this process, cytokines, are known to be significantly involved in mood and how we perceive the world around us.

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