The human microbiome is a big deal. We can have as many as 100 trillion microorganisms living simultaneously in our gut. These gut microbiota outnumber our genes by nearly 150x turning homosapiens into a “superorganism”. What are all these microbes doing? They help us digest by fermenting our food. They also have been shown to produce some powerful neurochemicals that have the ability to communicate with our brains. The neuroreceptors inside our intestines and the vagus nerve are the gateways to the brain.
The big three are neurochemicals that are related to our gut and regulate our mood are the following:
- dopamine (~50% produced in our gut) – pleasure
- serotonin (most of it is produced in our gut) – relays messages to cells related to mood, sex, appetite, sleep, memory and learning
- GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) – calming
How can you hack your mood through your gut? It is still the Wild West in terms of neuroscience studies coming out on this topic. My personal choice is to eat a ton of fermented foods. Kombucha, water-kefir, ginger beer, sauerkraut, kimchi and some commercial liquid probiotics that I perpetuate. We will get more into biohacking with fermented foods on future posts. A new term for these microbes which can benefit the brain and our behavior are psychobiotics.