Your Gut Microbes Are Controlling Your Mind, Here’s What You’ll Do For Them

The average human being hosts tens of trillions
of microbes in and on our bodies, most of which reside in our intestines. Depending on the person, 2-6 pounds of our
entire weight could be purely microbial. That’s a lot of roommates who aren’t paying
rent, if you ask me. It turns out these microbial passengers are
both giving back to us and potentially sabotaging us… Scientists are calling this the gut-brain
axis… And some have even named it your ‘second
brain.’ It turns out that the teeming and diverse
community in our gut — acts as a collective unit with a mind of its own—quite literally. That’s right—we’re talking microbial
mind control, y’all. For example, your bacteria may be making food
choices for you. Some bacteria love eating fiber, some love
pure sugar or fat—and depending on your diet, you may be cultivating a gut population
with a preference for one over the other.. Whichever your ‘second brain’ prefers,
it’s probably going to to tell you what it wants—loudly—and then complain when
you don’t feed it: cue that ‘hangry’ feeling when you just really need a chocolate
bar at 3 pm. Your microbes do this by hijacking your neurotransmitters
until you feed them what they want. And when you do—there’s a wave a relief
as those bacteria release their happy feelings into your system…making you feel happy too. This interaction between your cravings, your
microbiome, and how your brain registers all of this is really complex, so if you want
to know more just let us know and we’ll look into it. When your bacteria feel happy, you feel happy
because… Bacteria, it turns out, communicate with one
another via neurotransmitter— the same kind of chemicals used in your regular brain: like
serotonin, dopamine, cortisol, and GABA. These chemicals transmit messages from one
neuron to another in your brain, and because you host so many bacteria — when they use
them it can affect you–and your mood–too. The thing is we’re still unclear on how
exactly these signals get from your gut to your brain—a likely candidate seems to be
the vagus nerve, a long nerve that connects your stomach and intestines to the base of
your brain, but it could also be your immune system or your endocrine system. Maybe it’s both! But the results that are coming in from this
kind of research are pretty remarkable. One research group at University College Cork
in Ireland fed Lactobacillus rhamnosus, a good bacteria — or ‘probiotic’ you can
usually find in yogurt — to one of two groups of mice.The probiotic mice were much more
likely to persevere and succeed in the face of adversity tests than those not treated
with the probiotic. They repeated a similar study in humans, with
the probiotic-fed humans displaying improved resilience to negative emotions than those
without the probiotic. Some scientists hypothesize that the root
evolutionary cause of this may be that your bacteria’s ultimate goal is to spread, so
when we cultivate a healthy gut population, the signals they send to our brain are encouraging
us to be happy and social and go out in search of food so we introduce them to more hosts… So, by shaking each other’s hand or kissing
other people we’re both picking up other peoples’ bacteria and spreading our personal
microbiomes — with all the benefits and drawbacks that entails. That’s terrifying. There’s all KINDS of crazy ways that the
bugs living inside of you are connected to your brain, and its a burgeoning research
field that has great potential for personalized medicine. Imagine your doctor sampling your microbiota
and knowing exactly which bacteria were sending you what signals and then being able to modify
your behavior, whether it be mood or diet-related, by supplementing your gut environment with
some new critters. Freaky. Want a healthy diet of science in your life? Why not subscribe? And watch this video about how antibiotic
resistant bacteria have a new ENEMY in the CRISPR pill. Yeah. It’s cool. Did you know that fecal transplants can potentially
be life-saving? That’s right, a transplant of a healthy
donor’s stool could save someone suffering from a fatal gut infection. The power of poop! Thanks for watching.