Discover how a world of microbes living in and on you can make you sick-and keep you healthy
As seen on NOVA; Whether they make you fat, fart, or freak out, microbes play a central role in your life. Right beneath your nose—on your face, in your gut, and everywhere in between—trillions of bacteria, viruses, and fungi are so abundant in your body, they outnumber your human cells. But these aren’t just nasty hitch-hikers. Many are crucial to your survival. Evidence suggests that a diverse microbiome can keep you healthy and, conversely, a damaged one could kill you. NOVA Wonders peers into this microscopic world to discover the fascinating, bizarre, and downright surprising secrets of the human microbiome, including the world’s largest stool bank, which transforms raw stool into life-saving poop pills.
What is the Gut-Brain Axis and how does it impact you?
Changes in a person’s mental state, like feeling scared or nervous, can lead to immediate problems in the gut. Do you remember ever having to do a big presentation or take a major test and experience heartburn or diarrhea as a result? That’s the brain and the gut in communication along what it commonly referred to as “the gut brain superhighway.”
Your gut uses the vagus nerve like a walkie-talkie to tell your brain how you’re feeling via electric impulses called “action potentials.” Your gut feelings are very real.
Events that the mind views as stress causes the brain to send signals to the gut. That is why when someone is nervous or anxious they can have an upset stomach. If you have an unhealthy gut, a symptom can also be anxiousness causing a cyclical effect.
Researchers have also uncovered connections between intestinal bacteria and anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, ADD, autism, and Alzheimer’s disease, among others. Research suggests this link is due to intestinal bacteria’s ability to make small molecules, called metabolites, that can reach the brain and impact how it works.