For thousands of years Ayurveda has emphasized the critical nature of digestion and its impact on the entire health of the organism. Modern science is starting to catch on to this connection, with the emergence of compelling research on the connection between gut health and mental health. Studies are now making it into the mainstream.
In October 2014 there was a story on NPR entitled “Gut Bacteria Might Guide the Workings of Our Minds.” In the news report Rob Stein says “There’s growing evidence that gut bacteria really might influence our minds.”1 Dr. Emeran Mayer, a professor of medicine and psychiatry at UCLA, discusses recent research in which he conducted MRI scans on thousands of volunteers and then compared their gut microbe makeup to their brain structure. In sixty of those volunteers he found a distinct correlation between how areas of the brain connect and the type of bacteria dominant in their gut. The bacteria in our guts may influence the circuitry in our brains.1
Additionally, researchers at McMaster University, in Ontario, conducted studies on mice in which they altered their gut environments and observed whether the change in gut bacteria influenced characteristics such as boldness, timidity, and aggression. The findings were compelling: researchers observed that when timid, anxious mice were given the gut bacteria of fearless mice they became less anxious and timid.1