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Question Your World: Can the Stomach Impact the Brain?

Everyone has had at least one cranky moment over being hungry, right? Those moments are where the temperament of the mind has been altered by a need of the body, but what about other times? Are there other occasions where brain function is impacted due to stomach related issues? Can the stomach impact the brain? Find out in this week's Question Your World Radio Report by the Science Museum of Virginia.

The human body is a very intricate thing, filled with multiple connections, systems, and processes that we're still trying to understand. One of the remarkable aspects of the human body is that it is home to many colonies of bacteria. There are several bacterial colonies that function very well with the human body; they're a part of our human-body system. A lot of these bacterial colonies live in the stomach. These bacteria have been studied for some time, but this is the first time that scientists have explored the bacterial impact in the stomach to the brain. University of California scientists conducted a study in which they examined subjects and their gut flora's impact on their brain.  

Your whole body is comprised of cells ranging in all sorts of functions. Thus far the established understanding was that brain cells were able to communicate to the stomach, but not the other way around. Among many other cells in the stomach, the enterochromafinn cells are vital participants in the functions of the stomach. These cells are two way communicators between the stomach and the brain. When the bacterial environment changes these cells can actually make the brain aware of this new status, which ultimately goes on to affect the efficiency of the brain. This is a remarkable discovery because it has many implications in the field of medical and dietary research for patients with diseases such as depression and other mental conditions.

More research can now begin to see what foods impact the bacterial colonies, if certain medicines have an impact on them, and ultimately how different types of bacterial colonies play various roles in the human system that we are currently not aware of.

Regardless, this new medical breakthrough is some great food for thought.

Article by Prabir Mehta, Science Museum of Virginia

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