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The Incredible Brain-Gut Link & Your Diet

570271_58049039By now, we all know that our digestive tracts are packed with beneficial and not-so-beneficial bacteria that form part of our inner habitat.

What you may not know is that these bacteria act on and influence a range of seemingly strictly-mental functions.

The latest: A new study, reported here on PsychCentral, shows that the bacteria in our guts actually influence which foods we choose to eat. These bacteria outnumber our own cells as much as 100 to one,  and scientists believe they send out signal molecules, telling our brains what they prefer to munch on.

“Bacteria within the gut are manipulative,” said Carlo Maley, Ph.D., director of the UCSF Center for Evolution and Cancer and corresponding author on the paper.

“There is a diversity of interests represented in the microbiome, some aligned with our own dietary goals, and others not.”

“The good news is that it goes both ways, and the bacteria is easily altered. We can influence the compatibility of these microbes by deliberating changing what we eat,” Maley said, “with notable changes within 24 hours.” (Source:

Is it possible that our guts influence our brains in unexpected ways? A while back we blogged about a possible link between diet and nosebleeds. And we have often blogged about diet and mental health, such as this post on diet and schizophrenia.

You can read about autism expert, Dr. Martha Herbert, who believes that the brain-gut is very involved in autism and that deciphering its messages are essential to finding a cure.

Your Diet

Mind, body and soul are important in the treatment of any health issue, whether it be mental or physical—staying aware of this can be a challenge. Doing your own, personalized test is one way to determine if what you eat is related to your symptoms.

Trudy Scott’s original gluten-free challenge helps you determine if gluten is causing symptoms such as anxiety, exhaustion, mental-fog or even depression. But, you can test for any other food or nutrient using the same method.

1. Get rid of one suspect food from your diet and avoid it in any form for a period of one to two weeks.

2. Add that food back in for two meals in a row. Chart reactions over the course of 48 hours.

3. If you have a reaction, go off the food again.

Sometimes, just staying off a symptom-increasing food for a month or so may prime your body to be able to accept it in small doses in the future.

The Incredible Brain-Gut Link & Your Diet

Richard Zwolinski, LMHC, CASAC & C.R. Zwolinski

Richard Zwolinski, LMHC, CASAC is the author of Therapy Revolution: Find Help, Get Better, and Move On Without Wasting Time or Money and is licensed in addiction and psychotherapy with over 25 years experience as well as a consultant to organizations and companies in the fields of mental health and addiction. He is the executive director of an outpatient behavioral health program. Learn more about Richard here.

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APA Reference
& C.R. Zwolinski, R. (2019). The Incredible Brain-Gut Link & Your Diet. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 15, 2020, from


Last updated: 30 Mar 2019
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