Writing Exercise #13

Describe how microbial communities in the body could influence brain and mental health states. Then describe how brain and mental health states could influence microbial communities in the body. In what ways might these promote health and/or disease?

There have been studies that support the idea that gut microbiome affects mental health. The presence of pathogens in the gut leads to an immune response. Consant activation of the immune system puts high stress on the body, which in turn can affect mental health. This increases stress hormones in the system and decreases the body’s impact on maintaining a healthy balance of hormones.

On the other hand, mental health status can greatly impact microbial communities in the body. If one is constantly in fight or flight due to anxiety or depression, there is an imbalance of hormones and neurotransmitters in the system. High levels of cortisol and adrenaline can decrease the body’s ability to fight off infection and leaves less resources for health gut microbiota to use to survive.

People with high levels of stress or anxiety, and even depression, are more prone to infection. Since the body is constantly in fight-or-flight mode, there are no resources to allocate when an infection finds its way into the body.

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