Nowadays, science verifies more and more this old proverb. Indeed, we begin to realize the enormous influence that our food has on our physical and mental health, on our feelings and our way of thinking.
Why? Because the food we gulp down has contact with our digestive system, which is a kind of … a second brain. That could sound strange, but sometimes reality does: not only our digestive system contains neurons, but it contains nothing less than 100 milliards of them1! Connected between them and also with the brain, the one which stands in the head, via the vagus nerve, of which between 80 % and 90 % of fibers are none-reciprocal, and let information pass from the stomach (in particular the small intestine, around which it is rolled up) to the brain2. So it is our digestive system which tells our brain how to behave, and not the opposite!
We thus very well understand that what we eat influences our digestive system, and thus our brain: our feelings, our reflections, etc.
Furthermore, our food also has a direct effect on our intestinal flora, these 100000 billion of small bacteria which develop in our digestive system. But this intestinal flora, which has a very important effect on our body, depends naturally on our food. And from its composition can ensue cardiovascular risks4, anxiety and dépression2, autism4, obesity4, neurological diseases (as the Parkinson’s disease5), diabetes4, cancer4, as well as disorders in our hormonal and immune systems 2.
- A research team led by Mark Kahn, of the university of Pennsylvania, showed that the risk of developing cavernomes (vascular malformations resulting in risks of brain haemorrhages) depended on the intestinal flora of an individual. To prove that, they identified certain bacteria of the intestinal flora of mouse freeing a toxin susceptible to cross into the body and to generate cavernomes. By preventing the fixation of this toxin in the body of mice, they managed to reduce of 90 % the development of cavernomes in the population of studied mouse, proving the direct link between intestinal flora and appearance of cavernomes.3
- Researchers showed the link between intestinal flora and Parkinson’s disease by transplanting the intestinal flora of sick mice in healthy mice, what made reveal the symptoms of the disease in the sane mice. On the other hand, by isolating sick mice in a sterile environment or by treating them with antibiotics (and doing so by eliminating their intestinal flora), the researchers managed to reduce the intensity of the symptoms of the disease.5
- A research team led by Floris Fransen identified that the intestinal flora of young individuals differed from that of the old ones. And by transferring the intestinal microbiote of old individuals in young individuals, and vice versa, they managed in a case to generate disorders to the guinea pig and to reduce them in the other one.4
- Professor P. Holzer, neuro-gastroenterologist from Graz’s Hospital, was able to observe during large-scale epidemiological studies led on volunteers, that food has an effect on the humor of people, as they eat healthily or not.3
WHAT CAN BE DONE WITH IT
These discoveries are a real revolution: they actually allow to envisage in the future to handle a lot of complex diseases simply by modifying the intestinal flora of the sick person, using for example antibiotics or probiotics.
Well, as prevention is better than cure, pay attention on what you eat!
Look further / Useful link(s)
1■ Documentaire “Les super-pouvoirs de l’intestin” de Juliette Démas, diffusé sur France 5
3■ Article “Quand l’intestin agit sur le cerveau”, magazine La Recherche Juillet-Août 2017
4■ Article “Un lien a été trouvé entre l’état de la flore intestinale et plusieurs maladies liées à l’âge”, Medical Xpress, 2 novembre 2017
5■ Article “La maladie de Parkinson commence bien dans les intestins”, magazine Science & Vie de février 2017