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The Gut-Brain Axis: A Key to Health and Well-being

Posted by Mark Driscoll
on 05 Jun 2024

What’s included?

  1. What is the Gut-Brain Axis?
  2. The Vagus Nerve
  3. Your gut and how it links to mental health
  4. References

By Mark Driscoll, Chief Scientific Officer at Intus Biosciences

What is the Gut-Brain Axis?

The Gut-Brain Axis is a complex communication network linking the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and the brain, playing a crucial role in maintaining overall health. This bi-directional communication system involves neural, hormonal, and immunological pathways, highlighting the profound connection between our digestive system and mental health.

At the heart of the Gut-Brain Axis is the gut microbiome, a diverse community of microbes residing in the GI tract. Mainly bacteria, these organisms are integral to numerous bodily functions, including digestion, immune system regulation, and the production of essential vitamins. Recent research has underscored their influence on brain function and behaviour.

The Vagus Nerve

The vagus nerve is a critical component of the Gut-Brain Axis. This long nerve runs from the brainstem to the abdomen, facilitating direct communication between the gut and the brain. It transmits signals in both directions, influencing gut motility, enzyme secretion, and even mood regulation. Studies have shown that stimulating the vagus nerve can alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety, while cutting it can radically reduce the chance of Parkinson’s Disease, suggesting its potential as a therapeutic target for mental health disorders and neurodegenerative diseases.

The gut microbiota produces various neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, dopamine, and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which are crucial for regulating mood, anxiety, and cognitive functions. In fact, about 90% of the body’s serotonin, a key mood regulator, is produced in the gut. Hormones like cortisol, the body’s primary stress hormone, also play a role in the gut-brain communication. Dysregulation of cortisol levels can lead to gut issues, illustrating the intricate interplay between stress and gut health.

The gut is also a major player in the body’s immune response. It houses a significant portion of the body’s immune cells, which interact with the gut microbiota to maintain immune homeostasis. Inflammation, a common response to infection or injury, can impact both gut and brain health. Chronic inflammation has been linked to conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and depression, highlighting the need for a balanced immune response for optimal health.

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Your gut and how it links to mental health

Emerging evidence suggests that alterations in gut microbiota composition can influence mental health. Conditions like anxiety, depression, and autism spectrum disorders have been associated with imbalances in gut microbiota. For example, patients with depression often show reduced diversity in their gut microbiota, and probiotics have been shown to improve mood and cognitive function in some studies. 

Similarly, increasing fibre intake and consumption of fermented foods is known to improve gut microbiome health. Conversely, diets high in processed foods and sugars can disrupt gut health and exacerbate mental health issues.  Regular physical activity, adequate sleep, and stress management are also crucial for maintaining a healthy Gut-Brain Axis. Practices such as mindfulness and yoga have been shown to reduce stress and improve gut health, further supporting the interconnectedness of the gut and brain.

The Gut-Brain Axis is a vital communication network that significantly impacts our physical and mental well-being. Understanding this connection opens new avenues for treating various health conditions, emphasising the importance of a holistic approach to health that considers both the mind and the body. By nurturing and managing our gut health through diet and supplements, regular exercise and stress management, we can promote overall well-being and enhance our quality of life.


Carabotti, M., et al. (2015). “The gut-brain axis: interactions between enteric microbiota, central and enteric nervous systems.” Annals of Gastroenterology.

Dinan, T. G., & Cryan, J. F. (2017). “The Microbiome-Gut-Brain Axis in Health and Disease.” Gastroenterology Clinics of North America.

Rieder, R., et al. (2017). “Inflammation and mental health: the role of the microbiota.” Frontiers in Immunology.

Foster, J. A., & McVey Neufeld, K. A. (2013). “Gut-brain axis: how the microbiome influences anxiety and depression.” Trends in Neurosciences.

Sarkar, A., et al. (2018). “The Microbiome in Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience.” Trends in Cognitive Sciences.

Kiecolt-Glaser, J. K., et al. (2010). “Chronic stress and age-related increases in the proinflammatory cytokine IL-6.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

A word from Martin Preston

Founder & CEO at Delamere

Delamere is pleased to be participating in a trial with Intus Biosciences and GutID, to further our understanding around the link between addiction, recovery and our gut health.

Our holistic approach to recovery is one of the key reasons for Delamere to be chosen for this trial. 

We are grateful to Intus Bio for offering Delamere the chance to contribute to this important field of research. I am looking forward to sharing the insights from the trial when they are ready and continuing to look for innovative ways to help our guests improve their overall wellbeing during their recovery.

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Call us confidentially at any time to speak to a member of our team.

Call us now: 0330 111 2015
Understanding Valium addiction and its impact
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Understanding Valium addiction and its impact
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About the author: Mark Driscoll

Mark Driscoll is the Chief Scientific Officer at Intus Biosciences

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