Don’t Hate Your Gut: It May Help You Lose Weight, Fight Depression And Lower Blood Pressure


Published:

A universe of organisms living inside you may affect every part of your body, from your brain to your bones, and even your thoughts, feelings and your attempts to lose weight.

This is a universe of trillions of microorganisms – or what we biologists call microbiota – that live in your gut, the part of your body responsible for digestion of the food you eat and the liquids you drink.

As researchers, we have been looking increasingly into the effect these bacteria have on their host’s body, from obesity to mental illness and heart disease. With obesity, for example, these tiny organisms may play a big role by influencing what foods we crave and how our bodies hold onto fat.

In a recent study of the gut microbiome, we set out to determine whether the microbiota in the gut can be affected not only by our nervous system but also by an unsuspected source – our bone marrow.

Our hope is that, by understanding the interactions of the microbiome with other parts of the body, one day treatments could be developed for a range of illnesses.

The Gut-Brain-Bone Marrow Connection

The gut, which includes your esophagus, stomach, small and large intestines, colon and other parts of your digestive system, is the first line of defense and the largest interface between the host – in this case, a person – and the outside world.

After birth, the gut is the first point of entry for environmental and dietary influences on human life. Thus, the microbiota in the gut play a crucial role during human growth, as they contribute to development and maintenance of our immune system throughout our lifetime.

While we initially thought of the microbiota as relatively simple organisms, the fact is that they may not be so simple after all. Gut microbiota can be as personal and complex as a fingerprint.

There are more bacteria in your gut alone than cells in your entire body. This vast bacterial universe contains species that combined can have up to 150 times more genes than exist in humans. Research suggests that the bacteria in our gut predates the appearance of humans and that they may have played an important role in evolutionary separation between our ape ancestors and us.

Healthy bacteria actively interact with the host immune system in the gut. They contribute to the barrier between disease-causing microorganisms or infections introduced via ingestion. They also help prepare the host immune system to defend the body. The wrong mix of microbes, on the other hand, can contribute to many digestive, immune and mental health disorders and even obesity.

These tiny organisms work very hard in digestion. They help digest our food and can release nutrients and vitamins essential for our well being, all in exchange for the privilege of existing in a nutritious environment.

Researchers are actively exploring the many facets of this symbiotic relationship. Recent data show a link between gut microbiota diversity and richness and the way we store fat, how we regulate digestion hormones and blood glucose levels, and even what types of food we prefer.

This may also be a reason our eating habits are so difficult to change. Some research suggests that microbiota may generate cravings for foods they specialize in – even chocolate – or those that will allow them to better compete for resources against other bacteria.

A Three-Way Call?

There’s growing evidence of a link between the brain and our microbiota as well. The brain is the equivalent of a computer’s main processor, regulating all physiological variables, including the immune system, the body’s defense against infection and illness.

All immune cells are “born” in the bone marrow. From our previous research, we knew that increased bone marrow inflammation, one of many consequences of high blood pressure, was driven by a direct message from the brain. The gut, too, plays an important role in preparing the immune system for battle.

So we wondered: Could the bone marrow immune cells be playing a role in signaling between the brain and the gut? We wanted to find out.

Using a novel experimental mouse model, we replaced the bone marrow that occurs naturally within a mouse with bone marrow cells from a different, genetically modified mouse. This replacement marrow was deficient in a specific molecule called adrenergic receptor beta, which made the bone marrow less responsive to the neural messages from the brain.

In this way we could investigate how the host brain-immune communication will modify gut microbiota.

Indeed, by studying this new mouse model, we determined that our nervous system – directed by our brain – can modify the composition of gut microbiota by communicating directly with the bone marrow immune cells. The brain, therefore, can change our gut microbiota indirectly by talking to the bone.

Fewer Inflammatory Cells In Bone Marrow Resulted In Fewer In The Gut

Based on our experiments, we observed that fewer inflammatory cells were present in the circulation of mice that received the special bone marrow replacement than in those that didn’t. This means there are fewer immune cells able to infiltrate the gut and influence the bacterial environment.

Thus, by suppressing the communication between the brain and the bone marrow, we observed a muted inflammatory response in the gut and a consequent shift toward a “healthier,” more diverse microbiome.

This appears to be mediated via specific changes in inflammatory genes in the gut. However, this interaction between the host and the gut microbiota is very complex, and much more research is needed to pinpoint the exact mechanisms of their close communication.

This may also be protective against weight gain, due to the very important role that both microbiota and the immune system play in obesity.

A Key To Heart Health, Mental Health And Weight Loss?

This finding may also have implications in immune diseases as well as treatments either resulting in or employing immunosuppression. The latter may affect the gut microbiota, which in turn may cause unwanted effects in the body, including those associated with digestive and mental health conditions.

In the context of cardiovascular disease, this muted inflammatory response appears to be beneficial, as it leads to beneficial lowering of blood pressure in our experimental mice.

Most interestingly, a link between gut microbiota and our mental health has recently become clearer. In particular, some have suggested that gut microbiota influence the stress and anxiety pathways in the brain in a way that can alter mood and behavior both positively and negatively, giving a whole new meaning to the term “gut feeling.”

This could soon lead to a new class of drugs, called psychobiotics.

Much like the “chicken and the egg” scenario, however, this complex interplay warrants further investigation to fully understand the consequences (or benefits) of perturbing one single component of the gut microbiota. This understanding is essential if we are to fully harness the power of manipulation of gut microbiota in health and disease, without negative side effects.

Dr. Chris Martyniuk is a molecular toxicologist/physiologist that studies biological responses using omics methods and biochemistry. Jasenka Zubcevic is an assistant professor at the University of Florida.

This article was republished from The Conversation.

See also:
A Kitchen Ecology Of Health Resilience
Stress, Depression And Anxiety Are All Alleviated By Probiotics

Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Daily Astrology

June 22, 2018

The day is off to a slow start as the Libra Moon travels void of course. Some folks are lethargic. Attention easily wanders so if you have something important to say, make sure you’re fully understood. The lackadaisical mood lingers into the…
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Alternative Health Directory

Browse all listings »

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

June 2018

Join us for a monthly gathering of like-hearted people to give and receive angelic energy healing. This session is a combination of group meditation and discussion, along with working in pairs...

Cost: Scale $5-$20 ($10 suggested)

Where:
Pathway Of Joy
884 Broadway, Suite 12
Upstairs in the Spiritual Renaissance Center building
South Portland, ME  04106
View map »


Sponsor: Pathway Of Joy
Telephone: 207-329-7192
Contact Name: Linda Huitt
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
No Events

What better way to end a busy day than with a little bliss. We'll support your body right where it is today and help you to open your spine to find more movement and flexibility. Begin and end...

Cost: $18

Where:
Body Love Wellness Center
484 Bedford St
East Bridgewater, MA  02333
View map »


Sponsor: Bliss Through Yoga
Telephone: 508-331-3564
Contact Name: Janice
Website »

More information

8 Week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Course with Erin Woo Tuesdays, May 1 - June 19, 6–8:30 pm *Includes an all day retreat on Saturday, June 9 from 9 am - 4 pm Come explore the...

Cost: $290

Where:
Balance Bethlehem
2087 Main Street
Bethlehem, NH  03574
View map »


Sponsor: Balance Bethlehem
Telephone: 603-869-2125
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

If you are worried about getting Parkinson’s or have beginning symptoms, check out a free intro on how to rewire your brain from the inside. First and third Wednesdays of the month,...

Where:
, MA


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

June 21 - 24, 2018 Healing trauma and installing boundaries. 9am-6pm each day. With Judith Swack, PhD. Learn how to heal PTSD. HBLU™ integrates the best of biomedical science, psychology,...

Where:
Needham, MA


Telephone: 781-444-6940
Website »

More information

Learn from local industry leaders, scientists and experts about innovations in wellness, behavioral change, nutrition, fitness, environmental, societal wellbeing and more. Learn how to start or...

Cost: Free

Where:
CIC Cambridge
One Broadway
Venture Cafe 5th Floor
Cambridge, MA  02142-3104
View map »


Sponsor: CIC Cambridge
Telephone: 617-953-0674
Contact Name: Shakti Rowan
Website »

More information

Chef Arwyn Fires It Up! Embrace the Fire, the Sun, and the Light! Watch as Chef Arwyn brings our Café Bar to life cooking fresh, festive locally sourced ingredients over flames. She will...

Cost: $10

Where:
Groton Wellness
493 Main Street
Mill Run Plaza
Groton, MA  01450
View map »


Sponsor: Cafe at Groton Wellness
Telephone: 978-449-9919
Contact Name: Amy Ashman
Website »

More information

Revel in the longest day of daylight of the year! Join us for a special meditation celebration of the Summer Solstice. We will also be integrating our Tibetan and crystal bowls into this...

Cost: Pre-Reg. $20 includes materials

Where:
Brookside Farms
8 Mammoth Rd
Pelham, NH   03076
View map »


Sponsor: The Healing Power of Flowers - Heaven and Earth
Telephone: 603-275-7688
Contact Name: Stacey Smith
Website »

More information

Energy Healing is an expression of our infinite connection to divine life force and divine imagination. When these divine forces move through us, they bring healing, wisdom, and the ability to...

Cost: $30

Where:
Circles of Wisdom
90 Main Street
Andover, MA  01810
View map »


Sponsor: Circles of Wisdom
Telephone: 978-474-8010
Website »

More information

June 21 - July 1, 2018 Women’s Yoga Retreats in beautiful Rockport, ME. Relax, rejuvenate, rediscover. 3 amazing options: Kundalini Summer Solstice - Jun 21-24 Gentle Yoga - Jun 24-28...

Where:
Rockport, ME


Telephone: 508-990-6795

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

With Joseph Carringer Relax, clear out energetic and emotional stagnation and connect with your major energy centers. Joseph provides a meditative journey that reconnects the mind with the...

Cost: $45

Where:
YogaLife Institute of NH
Lower Level
6 Chestnut Street
Exeter, NH  03833
View map »


Sponsor: YogaLife Institute of NH
Telephone: 603-867-3969
Contact Name: Alice Bentley
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Back, neck, and/or sciatica pain? Svaroopa yoga is well known for relieving pain and releasing tension throughout your entire body. Classes begin and end with a guided awareness and include...

Cost: $18

Where:
Body Love Wellness Center
484 Bedford St
East Bridgewater, MA  02333
View map »


Sponsor: Bliss Through Yoga
Telephone: 508-331-3564
Contact Name: Janice
Website »

More information

Celebrating The Summer Solstice And Kicking Off Summer Season! We have a Marvelous line up of different intuitive/healing/wellness services to sample from as you enjoy a fun refreshing day for...

Cost: Special $25 and $60

Where:
The Healing Power of Flowers - Heaven and Earth
68 Stiles RD Unit #A
Our Yellow Banner is in Window
Salem, NH  03079
View map »


Sponsor: The Healing Power of Flowers - Heaven and Earth
Telephone: 603-275-7688
Contact Name: Stacey Smith
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags