Did you know that scientists are beginning to relate poor gut health to many chronic neurological diseases, including Alzheimer’s?
The power that gut health has on the brain is significant, much more than most people would think. To support this theory, many scientists have undertaken studies that lead them to believe just how much of an impact it has.
One thing that makes a difference is the use of probiotics. In this article, you can learn the benefits of probiotics for Traumatic Brain Injury as well as the impact of gut health on your brain.
How Does The Gut Impact The Brain?
First, it’s important to understand how exactly your gut impacts your brain.
The neurons in the gut are numerous. The bacteria, specifically, communicate with your central nervous system via the “vagus nerve,” which connects your brain stem to your abdomen.
The brain also connects to your intestines through gut microbes.
Glutamate is also a neurotransmitter produced by your gut microbiome. This is relative to cognition, learning, and memory – three crucial brain functions.
Another fact you may not have known is that your microbiome strongly influences your mood. Anywhere from 80-90% of your body’s “feel-good” chemical, known as serotonin, is actually manufactured by the nerve cells located in your gut.
The bacteria in your gut also produces GABA, an amino acid. This helps to calm nerve activity, which also helps the nervous system feel calmer and steadier, particularly after a traumatic incident or stress (sound familiar?).
As a result of western diet and lifestyle practices leading to poor gut health, this is also linked to chronic inflammation, poor immune response, and even the production of neurotoxic metabolites. Gut bacteria can control inflammation and hormone production.
This is where scientists believe that poor gut health contributes to many different neurological diseases. The conclusion is that a healthy gut encourages a healthy brain.
There are ways to ensure you have optimal gut health, one of them, of course, being that you eat the right types of food.
The other, however, is including probiotics to give your gut health a boost. Because the gut and brain are connected, the gut can influence the brain significantly, and probiotics are a possible solution to quicker brain and mental health recovery.
What Are Probiotics?
Probiotics are live bacteria and yeast. They support good digestive health when consumed sufficiently and can be easily included in one’s diet in a variety of forms – particularly fermented foods or through supplementation.
Here are some common examples of probiotics:
Yogurt – a prime example & one of the best sources.
Kefir – a fermented probiotic milk drink.
Sauerkraut – fermented shredded cabbage.
Kombucha – fermented black/green tea drink.
Cheese – some cheese types have probiotics, such as cottage cheese.
RenewLife Ultimate Flora – a great supplement recommendation.
Each may contain different probiotic microorganisms. Greek yogurt, for example, has lots of probiotic cultures that strengthen your digestive tract.
Among them are Lactobacillus acidophilus and Lactobacillus casei – both of which may encourage good bacteria in your gut.
The great part is that many of these probiotics can be incorporated into your diet effortlessly, as many enjoy eating them with various recipes.
Greek yogurt tastes great with fruit and granola, cottage cheese can go in an omelet or even on bread, and many enjoy sauerkraut with a side of lean meat.
Benefits Of Probiotics For TBI Victims
There are many benefits associated with probiotics and TBI recovery.
Some probiotics have even shown to reduce symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression – three very common symptoms following a traumatic brain injury.
Furthermore, certain probiotics may also enhance mood, as previously discussed. A study found that taking these supplements helped to reduce the patient’s negative thoughts associated with a sad mood.
For those curious about TBI and probiotics, there was another study conducted that involved adding certain probiotics into interal nutrition can possibly minimize the number of infections in TBI victims, as well as the time spent in the ICU.
Probiotic supplementation may also help to prevent brain injury from occurring, particularly in individuals who are at a greater risk of stroke. This is because the probiotic bacteria may protect against tissue damage.
Other possible benefits include:
The prevention and treatment of diarrhea
Greater heart health
Reduced severity of allergies and eczema
Reduced symptoms of certain digestive disorders, such as IBS
Boosted immune system by promoting the production of natural antibodies
Increased loss of belly fat and weight
Some of these may or may not apply to you, but it’s worthwhile knowing all of the benefits in case they do. Many of these can definitely arise after a brain injury, like weight gain and a weak immune system.
Consuming probiotics, in general, is safe and has little or no side effects. It may be worthwhile trying to take some supplements to help you boost your beneficial gut bacteria.
However, remember that it is always best to consult with your trusted doctor regarding the different methods of treatment and recovery that you want to try, including probiotics. He or she will advise what is best for you based on your circumstances.
It is also important to remember that every individual is different and how probiotics affect one person may not happen to another. There are also many studies that still need to be conducted to test the overall impact probiotics have in relation to the brain.
Lastly, you want to make sure you have a balanced diet with plenty of foods that assist with your recovery. You can take a look at this article (link the best foods for TBI that I did) to learn more about the brain-rich foods, such as salmon and almonds, that contribute positively to optimal brain and gut health.