An Oxford study found that the guts of sociable people have diverse good bacteria with higher numbers of certain strains. And people with more positive social ties in their lives are healthier due to good bacteria causing reduced inflammation in the body.
Let's talk Personality...
- It is the collection of all the characteristic patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving that differentiate us from each other. Researchers today widely use the five-factor theory to study personality; according to it, the broad dimensions are:
- Openness - willingness to try new activities, creative, artistic, curiosity,
- Conscientiousness - aware of actions and consequences, goal-oriented, sense of duty
- Extraversion - outgoing, sociable, talkative
- Agreeableness - friendly, cooperative, altruistic, empathy
- Neuroticism - emotional stability, over-thinking, moody behaviour
- About 50% of our personality traits are inherited and the other half are affected by the environment – both inside and outside the body. Since both our genetics and the environment are known to affect our microbiome composition, it stands to reason that some of the effects of genes or the environment on personality are via their influence on the microbiome.
- The burgeoning field of microbiome study is reveals the many ways our environment within can affect our body; many scientific studies have focused on the link between the microbiota and psychological issues like autism, anxiety, and depression, etc., but now scientists are studying the link between gut bacteria and our general mood and everyday behaviour.
Dr. Katerina Johnson of Oxford University’s Department of Experimental Psychology has been researching the connection between gut microbiome and behaviour traits, differences in personality, including sociability and neuroticism. Her study revealed that:
- Numerous types of bacteria that had been associated with autism in previous research were also related to differences in sociability in the general population.
- People who ate more foods with naturally occurring probiotics or prebiotics had significantly lower levels of anxiety, stress, and neuroticism and were also less likely to develop a mental illness.
- People with larger social networks tended to have a more diverse gut microbiome, which is often associated with better gut health and general health. Conversely, the study found that people with higher stress or anxiety had a lower microbiome diversity. Part of the reason why individuals with a larger social network have a more diverse microbiome may be because social support can help buffer the adverse effects of stress on diversity.
- Adults who had been formula-fed as children, instead of breast-fed, had a less diverse microbiome in adulthood. Adventurous eaters exposed to diverse diets had a more diverse gut microbiome.
Dr. Johnson's study shows how our modern lives -- made up of lackluster diet, stressful and over-sanitized environment, drug dependence, lack of social interactions, etc. -- provides a perfect recipe for imbalance in our gut microbiome; this imbalance may be affecting our behaviour and psychological well-being in many ways.
While human microbiome experimentation is fairly recent, scientists have been conducting similar studies among mice/rodents to learn more about the gut bacteria. A recent experiment showed convincing results of behavioral traits being transferred between mice when their gut microbiota was swapped:
- Scientists saw that when the anxious and timid Balb/c mice were colonized with the gut microbiota of NIH Swiss mice, their temperament became bolder and more exploratory, like that of the donor NIH Swiss mice, and vice versa.
- When scientists colonized rodent guts with the microbiota of humans suffering from anxiety and depressive-like behaviours, they found that rodents displayed similar behaviour as the humans.
- The transmission of such behaviours via the microbiota therefore suggests that gut micro-organisms can contribute causally to behavioural traits.
How does the gut-brain axis work?
Rather than thinking of our gut bacteria of all powerful beings completely in control of our minds and bodies, we should think of them as organisms competing to survive in our guts. And if the good bacteria win and multiple and diversify, we are benefitted and we feel good. If the bad bacteria win and multiply, we are susceptible to diseases and do not feel our best. So, it is in our best interest to eat a healthy diet rich in fiber, probiotics and prebiotics, and expose ourselves to different environments to diversify the bacteria.
Booch offers several fermented products in addition to our signature kombucha and jun drinks to help you strengthen your gut biome, and they are all made with fresh, organic ingredients sourced from local farmers.