Our emotional responses to everyday events are governed and influenced by many factors, including our past experiences, upbringing, and medications. But can the foods we eat play a role in our emotions?
In a recent study published in the journal Gastroenterology, researchers at UCLA demonstrated that daily consumption of a fermented milk product containing five different strains of probiotic bacteria actually changed the brain’s emotional response to various stimuli, as measured on an advanced brain imaging technique called functional MRI.
Think of it. Changing the composition of the bacteria living in the gut caused a profound change in how the brain responded to its environment!
The authors stated in their conclusion:
Even though a possible relationship between the gut microbiota profile and mood has been postulated based on preclinical data, and a recent report in (irritable bowel syndrome) patients provides further support for such a hypothesis, this study is the first to demonstrate an effect of (fermented milk product) intake on gut–brain communication in humans.
The implications of this study are profound. It means that, to some degree, how we see the world is influenced by the bacteria for whom our intestines are home. These organisms, called our microbiome, are influenced not only by the foods we eat and the probiotics we consume, but other important and modifiable factors like drinking chlorinated water and taking antibiotics for the slightest sniffle.
We are just at the beginning of this fascinating journey exploring the connection between the brain and the gut.