What does it do for resilient people?  Brain and gut hold clues

What does it do for resilient people? Brain and gut hold clues

What does it do for resilient people?  Brain and gut hold clues

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The bacteria that live in the guts of resistant people are different from those of other people, a new study shows.

FRIDAY, June 21, 2024 (HealthDay News) — Can you trust your gut?

UCLA researchers have shown that people who rank high in resilience—meaning they embrace change positively and follow their instincts—have the bacteria living in their guts, in part, to thank for that.

Their new study looked at the brain and gut microbiome of people who cope effectively with different types of stress, including social isolation and discrimination. Finding ways to prevent stress can help prevent heart disease, stroke, obesity and diabetes, the researchers explained.

“If we can identify what a healthy and resilient brain and microbiome looks like, then we can develop targeted interventions in those areas to reduce stress,” said study lead author Arpana Gupta, co-director of the UCLA Goodman-Luskin Microbiome Center. .

For the study, Gupta’s team surveyed 116 people about their resilience and divided them into two groups—one ranked high in resilience, the other ranked low. Participants gave stool samples and underwent brain MRI scans.

The study found that people who were highly resilient had brain activity in regions associated with emotional regulation and better thinking skills than the low-resilient group.

“When a stressor occurs, we often go into this awakened fight-or-flight response, and this affects the breaks in the brain,” Gupta said in a UCLA news release.

“Highly resilient individuals in the study were found to be better at regulating their emotions, less likely to catastrophize, and more level-headed,” added first author Desiree Delgadillo, a postdoctoral researcher at UCLA.

Besides the differences in their brains, something unique was going on in their guts.

Their gut microbes excreted chemicals and showed genetic activity linked to low levels of inflammation and a strong gut barrier. Inflammation causes what’s known as “leaky gut,” which affects the body’s ability to absorb needed nutrients and block toxins.

The researchers were surprised to find these features of the microbiome in the highly resistant participants.

“Resilience is truly a whole-body phenomenon that affects not only the brain, but also the microbiome and the metabolites it produces,” Gupta said.

The findings were published June 21 in the journal Nature Mental Health.

The next step is to investigate whether an intervention to increase resistance will change activity in the brain and gut.

“We could have treatments that target both the brain and the gut that may one day prevent the disease,” Gupta said.

More information

The American Psychological Association has a guide to building resilience.

SOURCE: UCLA Health, press release, June 21, 2024

What does this mean for you?

Being a resilient person isn’t just in your head. The bacteria living in your gut also play a role.

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