Research News

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Food, Mood &

Gut Bacteria







A recently published review provided an overview of the biological processes that underlie our eating behaviour and the role the gut microbiota plays in this. It also discusses how psychiatric disorders such as depression/anxiety are related to feeding behaviour and the role of the gut microbiota in this. 

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The way we eat is controlled by two key neural circuits: a homeostatic circuit; aimed to regulate the energy stores of our body, and a hedonic circuit: the brain’s reward system that makes us feel good while/after eating. Energy regulation is primarily controlled via the hypothalamus, the control centrum of the central nervous system. The pleasurable feeling of eating is controlled by the brain’s dopamine pathway.  

To provide feedback regarding the status of the body, the GI-tract communicates with the brain, but also the other way around does the brain send signals to the gut. This constant communication is also known as the gut-brain-axis. The gut microbiota is an important component in determining the status of the gut and transmitting signals to the brain. A disrupted microbial balance may cause GI distress and relations have been found in a growing lists of disorders including diabetes, cancer and psychiatric illnesses. 



Probiotics can help to balance the dysfunction in gastrointestinal systems often seen in patients with psychiatric illnesses

A common precipitating factor for psychiatric illnesses is stress. Stress has been shown to impair the epithelial barrier of the gut resulting in reduced intestinal permeability and an heightened immune activity. Environmental and dietary stress has been sown to decrease the Lactobacilli and Bacterioides populations and increases Clostridium species of the gut microbiota.

Due to this strong interaction between the gut and the brain,  the gut microbiota is gaining more and more attention as a modulator of psychologic processes and mental health. A stronger integrations of GI symptoms and changes in feeding behaviour within the psychiatric clinical context and how these are affected by the gut microbiota could possibly produce novel adjuvant treatments for psychiatric illnesses. Probiotics could eventually be integrated within clinical interventions to improve these symptom profiles.





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Food, Mood and gut bacteria

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