The gut-brain connection is now well-established. It’s a two-way information super-highway between your gut and your brain which is how these two organs communicate about their state and what to do next.
The gut microbiome is also now understood. It’s the colony of bacteria, viruses, and micro-nutrients that inhabit your intestines and determine the state of your health. These organisms produce substances that both our body and our brain use in health functioning. Have a poorly functioning microbiome, your body and brain won’t function well either.
When we think of healthy eating and healthy lifestyle, most of us equate this with the health of our body, as if somehow our brain is not involved.
Ongoing research however shows that the condition of our gut microbiome effects our mental health. For example, the organisms in our gut take our food and create important chemicals and substances that our brain uses in healthy function. Without these substances, our brain performs less efficiently.
And if we have a chronic mental condition such ADHD, depression, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, SUDs and personality disorders, the absence of these beneficial substances can make our symptoms even worse.
Miryam Bloemendaal, PhD, is a neuropsychologist specializing in cognitive neuroscience and explains the fascinating research she is doing and will do in the future to learn more about this important aspect of healthy life. She has been a principal research at New Brain Nutrition, the consortium of 18 European university hospitals researching the connection between lifestyle, nutrition and mental health.
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About Your Presenter
Mirjam Bloemendaal, PhD is a trained neuropsychologist with a PhD in cognitive neuroscience from the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour in Nijmegen, The Netherlands.
During her PhD she set up intervention studies on the role of dopamine, a neurotransmitter responsible for inter-cell communication, in cognitive functions, specifically in healthy aging. In this period she got intrigued by the influence of nutrition and gut microbiota on brain neurochemistry and associated cognitive functioning.
She is currently involved in various intervention studies tapping into the gut-immune-brain axis. This allows her to incorporate various biological measures (immune markers, gut microbial composition, dietary habits) to explain cognitive functioning.