A positive impact on the brain will in turn have a positive effect on your gut microbiome

A ground-breaking study into the link between resiliency, the brain and gut microbiome has identified how resilience “truly is a whole-body phenomenon”.

The study, which is the first of its kind, set out to examine the gut microbiome and brain in healthy, resilient people who are able to cope effectively in the face of stressful situations.

The team from the University of California – Los Angeles Health Sciences found that resilient people demonstrate activity in the brain linked to better regulation of emotions and cognition.

They were also better at describing their feelings and were found to be more mindful.

In addition, these people were found to have gut microbiome activity associated with reduced inflammation.

Postdoctoral researcher and one of the first authors Desiree Delgadillo said: “We have this whole community of microbes in our gut that exudes these therapeutic properties and biochemicals, so I’m looking forward to building upon this research.”

The team said if they can identify what a healthy resilient brain and microbiome look like, then targeted interventions to those areas could be developed to reduce stress.

If left untreated, stress can raise the risk of heart disease, stroke, obesity, and diabetes, so finding ways to cope with stress could improve health outcomes.

The study involved 116 participants who were asked about their resiliency, which includes trusting your instincts and being open to change.

The participants were then split into two groups – the first demonstrated low resiliency and the second was made up of people with higher resiliency.

Both groups had MRI scans and gave stool samples a couple of days beforehand.

The highly resilient participants were found to be less anxious and depressed and were less quick to judge.

The study authors said: “When a stressor happens, often we go to this aroused fight or flight response, and this impairs the breaks in your brain. But the highly resilient individuals in the study were found to be better at regulating their emotions, less likely to catastrophise, and keep a level head.”

Different microbiome activity was found between the two groups.

In the highly resilient group, their microbiomes excreted metabolites and exhibited gene activity linked to low inflammation and a strong and healthy gut barrier.

A weak gut barrier hinders its ability to absorb essential nutrients while stopping toxins from getting into the gut.

Senior author Arpana Gupta, co-director of the UCLA Goodman-Luskin Microbiome Center, said: “Resilience truly is a whole-body phenomenon that not only affects your brain but also your microbiome and what metabolites that it is producing. We could have treatments that target both the brain and the gut that can maybe one day prevent disease.”

Read the full study in Nature Mental Health.

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