The gut—a.k.a. our enteric nervous system—stretches roughly nine metres from the oesophagus to the anus and is concentrated with some 100 million neurons connecting to the brain, more than any other body part. Outnumbering the neurons, though, is the microbiome, which is made up of trillions of bacteria and microorganisms that live in our intestinal tract. These microscopic creatures help our bodies digest and absorb nutrients, boost our immune system, fight infections and regulate our metabolism. However, more and more scientists are concluding that they also play an important role in supporting our mental health.
Researchers are now looking for pyschobiotics—bacteria that form a connection between our guts and our brains. Ted Dinan, a clinical psychiatrist at University College Cork in Ireland, minted the term and has been a key player in this young bio-pharmacologic offset. With all the facts surfacing on the key link between the gut and the brain and their bidirectional communication, it seems logical that diet management can be a great tool in combating the depression, and perhaps a preferred alternative to anti-depressant medication.