Our body is a complex system in which all the parts are interrelated, and therefore it is not surprising that concepts such as the gut-brain axis.
For example, it has long been known that our mental and gut health are related in different ways. Now, a new study from Bringham and Women’s Hospital and the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health published in the scientific journal Psychological Medicine and summarized by the medium of the university itself, The Harvard Gazette, has detailed the links between specific bacteria in our gut and positive emotions Like happiness or hope.
Emotional suppression and the microbiome
Specifically, the authors of the paper extracted data from women included in a sub-study of the Nurses’ Health Study II that explored the correspondences between mental health and physiological health. It involved 200 mostly middle-aged, white ethnic women who filled out a questionnaire about their feelings in the past 30 days, reporting positive or negative emotions. The survey also took into account aspects such as emotional management.
Three months after completing this questionnaire, the patients provided stool samples which were analyzed using the metagenomic sequencing technique, a procedure that allows encoding the DNA of all the bacterial species present in the sample. These results were then compared with the questionnaire on emotions, in search of correspondences.
As they explain in The Harvard Gazette these researchers, some of the species that appeared in the analysis have previously been associated with poor health prognosis, including schizophrenia and cardiovascular diseases. Furthermore, they found that people who tended to suppress their emotions also had a less diverse gut microbiome.
Therapies for emotions, through the intestine
On the contrary, they also identified some patterns that were associated with the report of positive emotionsas a smaller population of Firmicutes bacterium CAG 94 o Ruminococcaceae bacterium D16.
Similarly, in people with more reports of negative emotions, they were related to a less activity capacity of the microbiota in many actions related to metabolism.
These findings, for the moment, simply expand our knowledge about the relationships between our gut microbiota and our emotional state. However, the authors believe that, once the scientific evidence in this regard expands, they could serve as a basis for the development of therapies based on the microbiome, such as probiotics, to improve our emotions and our well-being.
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Ke, Shanlin et al. Gut feelings: associations of emotions and emotion regulation with the gut microbiome in women. Psychological medicine (2023). DOI:10.1017/S0033291723000612
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