“A growing group of researchers around the world are investigating how the microbiome, as this bacterial ecosystem is known, regulates how people think and feel. Scientists have found evidence that this assemblage—about a thousand different species of bacteria, trillions of cells that together weigh between one and three pounds—could play a crucial role in autism, anxiety, depression, and other disorders.”
Did you know that about three-quarters of people with autism also have some gastrointestinal abnormality, like food allergies or gluten sensitivity? Because of this, scientists are examining the potential connections between gut microbes and autism. Here are the highlights from just one of the studies this article mentions:
Microbiologist Sarkis Mazmanian of The California Institute of Technology saw that some autistic children had less Bacteroides fragilis. He and his colleagues fed Bacteroides fragilis from humans to mice with symptoms similar to autism. The treatment changed the animals’ microbiome, and improved their behavior. “They became less anxious, communicated more with other mice, and showed less repetitive behavior.”
They also discovered that when a chemical called 4-ethylphenylsulphate (4EPS) which seems to be produced by gut bacteria was injected into mice, they developed autism-like symptoms. Mazmanian says, “We may be able to reverse these ailments. If you turn off the faucet that produces this compound, then the symptoms disappear.”
Another study showed that eating yogurt containing live bacteria (bifidobacterium,streptococcus, lactococcus, and lactobacillus) twice a day created a significant increase in calmness. He speculates that, “the bacteria in the yogurt changed the makeup of the subjects’ gut microbes, and that this led to the production of compounds that modified brain chemistry.”
For years, I’ve advocated a holistic approach toward health and well-being. Our physical, mental and spiritual health is so interconnected that we must obtain a balance. Healthful nutrition is obviously one of the key components to wellness.
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Read The Atlantic article in its entirety.