Is the Gut Our Second Brain?

Although in 2020 this event was not newsworthy at the time, just before the pandemic lockdown fell over North America there was a collective effort of major scientific significance.

50 Canadian newborn babies in Ontario and British Columbia filled their diapers and a sample was scraped into a tube with preservative solution and sent prepaid to the University of British Columbia, where it was frozen solid at -70C and eventually sent for a complete genetic sequencing in a laboratory at Dalhousie University in Halifax.

What did the babies’ poop contribute to?  Scientists wanted to know which species of bacteria was living in these tiny newborn guts.  But the scientists were not studying bacteria, they were studying babies’ brains, the human brain that has been shaped by millions of years of evolution in a world that is covered in bacteria.  The poo offered an exciting new perspective on how babies’ minds work and the link between gut and brain.

There were equal amounts of girls and boys in the experiment that formed the thinking on the Gut-Brain Axis. These infants were tested on 3 key developmental measurements which were:

  1. ability to follow someone else’s attention with their eyes,
  2. discern rhythm,
  3. to discern sounds that are language from sounds that are not language.

What the scientist found was that there was a strong correlation between the brain, a bundle of neurons in the skull, and that it seems to be deeply affected by bacterial activity in the gut, a machine for digestion far away in the belly.  That’s crazy! Scientists found that there was a correlation between gut bacteria and cognitive development!

Have questions, just ask me, Ref: National Post October 21, 2022
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