Updated: Jun 1, 2019
This diagram is an excellent introduction to our changing views on the human gut-brain connection.
The latest research on the gut - brain connection highlights the importance and necessity of the human gut microbiome to many (if not all) aspects of human health and wellness. Less than twenty years ago, any kind of psychological dysfunction was thought to originate in our genes/brain as shown on the left.
Psychological dysfunction starts with a genetic propensity, is exacerbated by stress, and the resulting outcomes (anxiety, depression, ADD, were treated with medication in the short term, and psychotherapy in the longer term.
We now know that we all have genetic propensity for a variety of positive and negative outcomes, but we have much more control over our destiny than was once thought. Our genes can be turned on and off through exposure to stimuli in the environment. This can be from the inside of our bodies (nerve and hormonal stimulation) and/or from the outside (foods, chemicals, and toxins). Now we know that our diet plays a much greater role than was previously understood. And our physical AND mental health is affected greatly by the health of our microbiological community.
The latest science shows that we have a symbiotic relationship with trillions of microbes covering our entire bodies and organs. The largest concentration covers our entire gastro-intestinal tract, with most living in our colon. It appears that through evolution, this symbiotic relationship has "outsourced" many of our essential chemical exchanges at the cellular level to this huge base of DNA in the microbiome. Scientists say that we are more microbial DNA than human DNA - that we are mere hosts to this approximately 6 lbs of "good bugs" in our gut. We are inoculated at birth in the vaginal canal, and this community assists us in digesting mother's milk, and sets up the environment to eventually eat and process solid foods.
Our microbiome ebbs and flows, changes and grows, over our lifespan from infancy through to old age. It fluctuates with the foods we eat, the quality of input greatly influences the quality of output - which equals our ability to create immunity, extract vitamins and minerals, process energy and store or not store it, and create balanced mental health.
More to come in my book-in-process.