Is Your Gut Bacteria Influencing Your Personality?

Is Your Gut Bacteria Influencing Your Personality?

Are you Dr Jekyll or Mr Hyde?

Are you the social butterfly or prefer smaller gatherings?  Do you get stressed easier than others? Maybe it is your gut bacteria…

I recently came across an article p in the Human Microbiome Journal that explores the relationship between our gut bacteria diversity and our personality.  This had my attention!  Could we really be who we are because of our gut bacteria?

This new research conducted by Dr Katerina Johnson at Oxford University, examined stool samples from 655 subjects and correlated their gut bacteria composition to personality traits such as sociability and neuroticism.

Participants were also asked to complete a comprehensive questionnaire that explored other aspects of their life such as their behaviour, health, lifestyle and sociodemographic factors. Personality traits assessed were based on the five-factor model of personality which are grouped under the following 5 main domains.

  • Extraversion & the propensity to seek and enjoy others’ company
  • Agreeableness – defined as trust and cooperation in social interactions
  • Conscientiousness or the attention to detail and focus
  • Neuroticism with a tendency to feel negative emotions
  • Openness, creativity, intellectual curiosity and willingness to seek new experiences

Dr Johnson found that having certain levels of specific bacteria correlated with certain personality traits, and on further analysis showed that people with larger social networks trended to have more diverse gut bacteria – suggesting that social interactions may shape your microbial community!  In contrast, it also showed that lower microbial diversity was also associated with higher levels of stress and anxiety. Now can you see why I keep banging on about stress and your gut bacteria?

Other novel findings from this report were that gut bacteria diversity was positively related to international travel – perhaps due to exposure to novel microbes and eating different cuisines. It also showed that the more adventurous you ate the more diverse your gut bacteria were, and that those people on a more restricted diet had lower gut bacteria diversity. Furthermore, diversity was greater in people who consumed natural sources of probiotics such as fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi, as well as prebiotics foods such as banana, legumes, whole grains, asparagus, onion and leek.

These results add a new dimension to our understanding of our personality traits and reveal that our glorious gut bacteria may also be relevant to our behavioural variation as well as the hundreds of other roles they play in our health!

Here is the link to the original study: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0889159117305536

Our modern-day living provides the perfect storm for dysbiosis of our gut bacteria. We lead stressful lives, spend less time with friends and in nature.  Our diets are typically lower in fibre, we over sanitize our environments and consume more antibiotics than necessary. With all these factors influencing our gut microbiome it is no wonder our personalities are changing!

If you are looking to improve your personality and give your gut bacteria a tune up book a free 15-minute scoping session with me to see if one of my gut health programs can help you get back on track.

I also can offer a range of Gut Microbiome and Stool Analysis testing to find out what your gut bacteria contains – good and bad!

Michele Grosvenor, Perth Naturopath, NatMed GUT Specialist 

Michele Grosvenor
[email protected]
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