Depressed? Check Your Gut Bacteria
The Wall Street Journal has an article on this on December 22, 2020. Yes! At last, the realization that depression is a condition of inflammation (not a chemical imbalance of the brain) is gaining widespread attention.
“The field of psychiatry has known about the role of the immune system in the onset of depression for the better part of the last century. Not only do our gut microbes control the production of inflammatory chemicals in the body that factor into mental health, but they control our ability to absorb certain nutrients – such as omega-3 fats- and manufacture vitamins key to mental health”
David Perlmutter, MD Brain Maker-The Power of Gut Microbes to Heal and Protect Your Brain for Life
The Germ Theory VERSUS Terrain Theory of Disease
When I was in medical school, the only microbes that attracted medical attention were germs that causes infections and diseases. The Germ theory of disease states that germs are the primary causative agents of most diseases. Little did we know then, that the high use of antibiotics would remove the protective microbes inside of us that we knew nothing about.
During the past decade, advances in gene sequencing has allowed researchers to study millions of microorganisms and now the microbiome is one of the hottest new fields of medicine. The microbiome raises again the importance of the “terrain theory” of health.
Terrain theory believes if an individual maintains a healthy terrain, it can handle outside invaders or threats which cause diseases. When terrain is weak, it favors the microorganisms. Hence, the health depends on the quality of an individuals’ terrain.
Microbiologists calculate that the human gut contains more than 100 trillion microorganisms. Even more amazing is that researchers estimate the human microbiome contributes 360 times more bacterial genes than human genes. These genes are very adaptable to diet and emotion!
Gut Bacteria and Mental Health
Here are some fascinating ideas to consider
- Patients with various mental health issues such as Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia and Autism-spectrum disorder have significant disruptions in the composition of their gut microbiome.
- Many of today’s antidepressant medications are designed to alter neurotransmitter activity in the brain. Yet, these same chemicals are also produced in the gut and their availability to the brain is largely governed by gut bacteria.
- The precurser for serotonin in the body is tryptophan and that is tightly regulated by gut bacteria. In fact a particular bacterium, Bifidobacterium infantis does a great job of making tryptophan
Depressed? Check Your Gut Bacteria
The microbes appear to be in almost constant communication with the brain directly by affecting nerve signals and indirectly through chemicals absorbed in the blood stream.
The Good News
By targeting microbes in the gut, we can have behavioral effects. The research exploring the connection between the gut and mental health issues is now narrowing in on the microbiome. A number of mechanisms are involved such as:
- the direct effects of gut bacteria on the intestinal barrier (leaky gut)
- microbiome effects on production of neurotransmitters
So working on your Gut Health is such an important way to support good mental health!
What You Can Do NOW!
One thing you can do is get informed about Gut Health. In my free eBook I explain 4 way to optimize your digestion to improve your mood. IT is FREE so get it now!
CLICK HERE for my free eBook titled Gut Matters: 4 Ways to Optimize Your Digestion to Boost Your ‘Second Brain’ and Improve Your Mood
I also have a GUT MATTERS online program HERE that supports you through a 5 week journey to take action! It is a simply structured program to reduce inflammation by gently supporting the body’s digestion and detoxification systems.