Personality Type Determined By Gut

Or Gut Type Determined By Personality?

Personality Type. Healthy Living Magazine

Personality Type. Healthy Living Magazine

Do you have an extroverted or introverted toddler? Is your kid prickly or cuddly? Does he fidget? Act out? Get overly emotional or shy? Blame the bacteria in the gut, especially for boys, say researchers from Ohio State University (OSU) in Columbus who studied bacterial populations of gastrointestinal tracts of children between the age of 18 and 27 months and linked certain species to behavioral traits among boys and girls.

These links with bacterial species held even after accounting for diet, breastfeeding duration and method of childbirth— three factors that also influence the bacterial populations of children’s guts.

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The human gastrointestinal tract contains 400-500 different species of bacteria that largely belong to one of 10 phyla of bacteria. DNA-based assays enable scientists to identify with pinpoint accuracy the bacterial composition of the microbial community.

Seventy-seven girls and boys were studied. Lisa Christian, PhD, lead author and researcher with OSU’s Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research, said kids with the most genetically diverse types of gut bacteria exhibited behaviors related with positive mood, curiosity, sociability and impulsivity. In boys only, researchers reported that extroverted personality traits were associated with the abundances of microbes from the Rikenellaceae and Ruminococcaceae families and Dialister and Parabacteroides genera.

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“There is substantial evidence that intestinal bacteria interact with stress hormones—the same hormones that have been implicated in chronic illnesses like obesity and asthma,” said Dr Christian. “A toddler’s temperament gives us a good idea of how they react to stress. This information combined with an analysis of their gut microbiome could ultimately help us identify opportunities to prevent chronic health issues earlier.”

traits and bacteria

Behavioral traits such as self-restraint, cuddliness and focused attention were associated with a lower diversity of gut bacteria. Those girls with Rikenellaceae experienced more fear than girls with a more balanced diversity of microbes.

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your microbiomic portrait

But don’t try to change your child’s gut microbiome with probiotic supplements. Scientists still don’t know what a healthy combination looks like or what might influence its development. “The bacterial community in my gut is going to look different than yours—but we are both healthy. The perfect microbiome will probably vary from person to person,” said OSU microbiologist Michael Bailey, PhD.

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ReferenceChristian LM, Galley JD, Hade EM, Schoppe-Sullivan S, Dush CK, Bailey MT. Gut microbiome composition is associated with temperament during early childhood. Brain, Behav, Immun, 2015; 45: 118 DOI: 10.1016/j.bbi.2014.10.018
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