Well, well, well looks like science is talking about the great advances it is making with the “new” discovery linking gut health to mental health.
We understand that the signals of emotions and stress coming from the brain can affect your stomach. For example, if you lose a loved one you may not have much of an appetite or if you are stressed at work you eat too much.
Now there seems to be reason to believe that there are mutual signals that relay from brain to gut and gut to brain. A recent study measured brain activity in three groups of women who either ate: 1) yogurt with a probiotic 2) no yogurt or 3) yogurt without a probiotic twice a day for one month. Functional magnetic resonance imaging, fMRI, (a picture that shows metabolic activity within the brain) revealed changes in emotions and sensations (in the brain) in the groups that ate the yogurt. The pictures of the brain indicate responses to messages that are being sent from the gut after food is consumed.
Although the study was funded by a company in the yogurt business, the gut-brain connection can be groundbreaking if the results can be replicated by other researchers. Already, interestingly enough, there are studies linking poor gut health with depression.
Dr. Mercola, http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/06/20/gut-brain-connection.aspx, makes a good point, as he describes the physiology of the nervous system. The gut, like the brain, actually contains hormones (like serotonin) that impact the way we feel. These hormones may be the link between the two. Dr. Mercola describes how medications like serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI‘s) that focus on the brain are often not effective because they only work on the brain and not the gut. He also mentions ties between the flora of the gut and obesity, diabetes, gene-expression, autism and the immune system. For more specific information make sure you watch the video.
However, the breakthroughs of today may not seem so current for those who practice Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), http://valerieberkowitz.wordpress.com/2013/08/12/bringing-eastern-medicine-to-the-table/, and Ayurvedic medicine( from the 4th-5th century). For centuries, the Indian and Chinese cultures have focused on a holistic approach to wellness. Health systems that are based on an understanding that body systems are all interconnected. Harmony amongst all systems are necessary for balance and optimal health. A concept that seems to be supported with this “advanced” research.
There is still so much we do not know about how the body functions but why re-create the wheel. Instead we can learn from the past using Indian and eastern medicine philosophies to broaden our understanding and develop cutting edge health solutions that will help foster better health care.
There is much to learn about the past. Embrace and build upon it. I believe we will get answers to our health questions much faster and with an enhanced view of the (health) puzzle.