The Brain – Gut Connection


Earlier research demonstrated that a big part of our emotions is influenced by the nerves in our gut. A newly discovered connection between the immune system, the brain, and social behavior furthers the association between the gut and mental health.

Lymphatic vessels (a ‘highway’ of vessels that are part of the immune system and serve as a connection between cells and blood) have been discovered in the brain. Previously it was thought there was no lymphatic system in the brain and, therefore, no physical connection between the immune system and the brain. Moreover, it has been discovered that this connection allows the immune system (much of which is in the gut) to influence social behavior.

This research may help in finding treatments for a variety of diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia, autism, migraines, brain and spinal cord injuries, and even multiple sclerosis.

The relationship between the gut and the brain suggests we should pay more attention to gut health, including what we (and are pets) eat, the importance of pre- and probiotics, and avoidance of unnecessary antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals and environmental exposures that affect gut health. The impact of the gut on mental health also explains why people and pets with chronic gastrointestinal conditions may be more prone to mental health issues.

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