It’s the age of the gut microbiome — researchers are finding our gut bacteria influence multiple aspects of our personality, mood, and health. New research has now recently shown a connection between the gut microbiome and schizophrenia.
Researchers analyzed stool samples from three groups: Patients with schizophrenia taking medication, patients with schizophrenia not taking medication, and people who did not have schizophrenia.
The results showed that people with schizophrenia had gut bacteria the control group did not. Likewise, the control group had gut bacteria the patients with schizophrenia did not. In other words, researchers identified a schizophrenic-specific strain of gut bacteria.
To further test the connection, the researchers then inoculated mice with sterile guts with the gut bacteria from the patients with schizophrenia.
The mice then exhibited behavioral changes resulting in symptoms similar to schizophrenia.
Gut bacteria influence the brain and body health
Schizophrenia symptoms aren’t the only disorders scientists have been able to promote in mice through gut bacteria inoculations.
In other studies researchers have used gut bacteria inoculations to:
- Make fat mice thin
- Make thin mice fat
- Make anxious mice calm
- Make calm mice anxious
Human studies as well have shown gut bacteria influence obesity, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, autism, irritable bowel disorders, and now schizophrenia.
Although researchers have not yet developed treatments based on gut bacteria, it’s clearly a promising path in treatment of chronic health and mood disorders with profound implications.
How to promote healthy gut bacteria in yourself
When it comes to a healthy gut microbiome, the key is diversity: both of your gut bacteria and the vegetables you eat.
Promote a brain-friendly gut microbiome in the following ways:
Eliminate foods and chemicals that kill good bacteria. Things that can kill your good bacteria and promote the bad include sugars, processed foods, alcohol, energy drinks, fast foods, food additives, excess salt, antibiotics, hand sanitizers, and household disinfectants.
Eat plenty of lots of different kinds of vegetables. Be sure and eat a large diversity of veggies on a regular basis. Avoid eating the same thing every day, your bacteria need constant diversity of plant fiber. Shoot for 25-30 grams of fiber a day.
Consume fermented foods. Sauerkraut, kimchee, kombucha, and yogurt contain live bacteria that can help boost your own populations.
Exercise your vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is a large communication nerve that runs between the brain and the gut. Brain injuries, aging, brain inflammation, or other factors that affect your brain health can impair function of the vagus nerve and thus communication between your brain and gut. This can impact gut function in a way that degrades the gut microbiome.
Ask my office for ways functional neurology and functional medicine can better support the health of your brain and gut microbiome.