The importance of a healthy gut-brain axis — the connection that links your brain, intestines and emotions — is critical to protect your cognitive and physical well-being.

That connection seems pretty clear, considering as much as 90 percent of your body’s serotonin, a chemical neurotransmitter that sends message from one part of your brain to another, may be produced in your gut.

A recent study appearing in Science Translational Medicine takes the gut-brain axis connection to the next level, literally between mice and men, with the help of fecal transplants.

 

IBS and the gut-brain axis

Curious about the effect irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) has on behavior and intestinal health, researchers from McMaster University and the University of Waterloo took an unconventional approach: Transplanting fecal samples from eight patients suffering from IBS with diarrhea for at least two years and five healthy people into germ-free mice.

Three weeks later, compared to mice that received healthy samples, animals that were given IBS-laced transplants experienced increased gut permeability, low-grade inflammation and faster gastrointestinal transit (how long it takes food to travel from the stomach and through the intestine).

Then, scientists tested anxiety-associated behaviors by measuring the time mice spent in the dark and how long it took them to step down from a platform to explore their environments, according to The Scientist.

Mice that were given fecal samples from human IBS patients who reported anxieties experienced similar emotional difficulties, compared to animals given fecal samples from healthy patients and those with IBS who reported no problems with anxieties.

 

Probiotics to the rescue

Researcher Dr. Giada De Palma called these findings a landmark “because it moves the field beyond a simple association and toward evidence that changes in the microbiota impact both intestinal and behavioral responses in IBS.”

These results also offer more evidence that human gut health may play a larger role in the range of brain disorders ranging from the emotional (mood or anxieties) to more serious problems, like multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and autism, according to a press release.

The good news: Scientists believe treatments such as probiotics and prebiotics could be beneficial in treating, not only the physical aspects of IBS but the behavioral issues associated with it too.

Protecting the health of your gut by taking a probiotic like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic is certainly much safer and more effective than taking a drug like mesalazine that merely treats symptoms but not the root cause of IBS: Restoring the balance of beneficial bacteria in the gut.