A new study showed that there's significance in a healthy gut microbiome early in life, and that it can be considered essential for the development of healthy social behavior in later life for zebrafish. This doesn't necessarily correlate directly with a human connection but gives significant emphasis on the importance of gut health in living organisms.

We natural-minded mamas know that gut health is a big deal. Continued research supports that the health of our microbiome can be connected to our overall health in life. A recent study on zebrafish larvae showed that gut microbiomes were essential in early life for them to display typical social behaviors later in their development.

While there's still much that's not understood about the influence of the gut microbiome on the development of our brains and behaviors, more and more it's becoming obvious there IS influence from the gut. The gut-brain axis is real, and at least in these zebrafish, altered gut microbiome composition was associated with neurodevelopmental conditions. In humans, this can manifest in conditions like Autism Spectrum Disorder, Attention Deficit Disorder, Schizophrenia and more.

Dr. Judith Eisen is a neuroscientist at the University of Oregon and the study's author. In an article with Medical News Today, she said
“One of the most significant aspects of our study is that microbial inputs are required early in life for typical development of the nervous system later in life, at least in the context of a specific part of the zebrafish brain. Zebrafish brain development is very similar to the brain development of other vertebrates, including humans, so it seems likely that similar processes also occur during the development of the brains of other vertebrates. Since intestinal health and resident microbes are now implicated in many neurological conditions, we hope that understanding the basic mechanisms linking the gut and brain will lead to new interventions.”
Previous research suggests that gut microbiomes can and do influence the development of brains and their associated social behaviors in animals. One example is a study done on germ-free mice who were raised in the absence of microorganisms. They showed deficits in their social behaviors in adulthood. The absence of microbiota has been associated with changes in gene expression and neurotransmitter levels in the regions of the brain that are involved with 'typical' social behavior.

The researchers chose zebrafish because their larvae are transparent and it's easier to detect and examine structural changes in the brain during development.

The 'why' behind the connection to the gut and social behaviors is still not well understood, but with good reasoning, paying attention to your gut health and the gut health of your children can be considered highly beneficial.