The two systems communicate with each other through microorganisms. A balance correlated with various neuropsychiatric pathologies
Genova – Paola, the name is fictional, suffers from a rare genetic disease. She is the only one in her family to fight withtuberous sclerosis,which leads her to deal with a form of drug-resistant epilepsy. Today she is twenty years old, in a path made of care and hopes, with many disappointments. But she found an answer: by controlling how much she eats, she managed to reduce the need for medication.
And even her parents have adapted to feed like her, with a diet that focuses straight on one goal: the intestinal microbiota, or that set of microorganisms far more numerous than the cells of the human body, which are the “backbone “Of the so-called “Gut-brain axis”, that axis between the intestine and the brain capable of interfering with well-being and also of becoming a key to understanding for several pathological conditions. It is from this starting point that Alessia Luongo di Giacomo, with Pasquale Striano, pediatrician neurologist at the Gaslini Institute in Genoa and professor at the University, he drew the inspiration for the book “The Buggy Brain – Interaction between microbiota and brain” (J Medical Books), which explores precisely these issues.
“For some years, the hypothesis of a complex communication route that connects the signals coming from thegastrointestinal system to those of the nervous system, and which would also involve the microbiota – explains Striano – Communication would take place in a bidirectional way, through different ways: from interactions with the vagus nerve, with the enteric nervous system to those with the immune system or through the direct effects of some metabolites of the microbiota “.
In short, the composition of the intestinal bacteria influences our well-being. And not only physical, but also psychological, being able to even interfere, based on the habits we have, on the cognitive and emotional functions of the brain.
“That’s right – Striano points out – Modulando the gut-brain axis it could positively affect the progress and prognosis of diseases such as autism, epilepsy, migraines and even some neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s or multiple sclerosis “.
Do not think, however, that already today there is some sort of “Magic potion” able to model the population of bacteria living in the digestive tract. Above all, it is our habits that draw what happens in our body. But the sector, as the volume indicates, is to be followed with great attention because there are many things to be understood and many secrets to be revealed. And scientists need to move together.
“It is important that there is in the future a transdisciplinary collaboration that compares clinicians, basic researchers, microbiologists, physiologists, nutritionists and dieticians – continues the expert – The goal is to focus on the ever more real possibility of”decipher ”the modus operandi of these microorganisms, which represent most of the genetic material contained in our organism, especially in order to identify an alternative to the canonical therapeutic strategies available“.
The important thing, according to experts, is to know that there is still a lot to discover and that the applications of these studies will take time. It is certain that for better or for worse some substances produced by bacteria they leave the intestine and make their way to different organs in our body, including the nervous system and the brain. It is not yet clear “the language” used by these substances to “communicate” with this system but it is now clear that they “speak” and that the words used are different depending on the composition of the microbiota. There are bacteria that transmit signals of well-being, others that instead induce anxiety, excitement and malaise. All of this also comes into play in the development of the nervous system. “The gut-brain-microbiota axis is a crucial interaction because the dysfunction of this subtle balance is often the basis of numerous pathologies neuropsychiatric, including the Autism Spectrum Disorder, and can be the target for a targeted and more effective therapy – concludes Striano. However, it is important to note that there are no therapeutic shortcuts or “pills” nor magical diets. Each therapeutic approach should always be agreed with the referring physician, in order to avoid frustrating and countless attempts with various nature and origin“. –
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