The bacteria in your bowel may have more impact than you think!
Thanks to the human microbiome project, the importance of diet, microbiome and gut health has moved to the forefront of public health awareness. The microbiome is trillions of bacteria in your gut that weighs more than your brain. In fact many are now referring to it as the second brain, after realising the huge impact of imbalanced gut bacteria, or the more elegantly named 'flora'.
As you will glimpse from the references below, possibly the first thing to consider if you are feeling bad is your diet and the condition of your gut flora. You can significantly change your bowel bacteria within about 3 days on a different diet. Your bowel flora can be upset by many things including: - Stress (especially the ongoing chronic kind) - Infection and repeated antibiotic use - Eating foods sprayed with pesticide (Roundup/glyphosphate) - Not being breastfed and being delivered by caesarian - Diet (eating processed, refined or limited kinds of food and too much sugar can overfeed the bad bacteria) You need good bacteria to digest food and make hormones, including good cholesterol.
All Disease Begins in The Gut.” - Hippocrates.
The vagus nerve allows almost instantaneous communication between all organs (including the gut) and the brain. This is how we have 'gut feelings' or feel nauseous when we see or hear something that disgusts us.
Another important fact is that we use raw materials from food, and many neurotransmitters are made in the gut. Digestion is one of the first things to degenerate.
The power of gut bacteria imbalance is evident in PANDAS (Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders) associated with streptococcal infections syndrome (1), a severe and sudden onset disorder caused by a bacterial infection that affects the gut and brain. PANDAS often manifests only as a sudden anxiety and OCD behaviour in the child.
Other brain functions that are affected by the gut flora balance include concentration (bacteria produce dopmine!), anxiety (especially high streptocchous bacterium) and possibly anger and psychosis. Just think about how you feel when you have a Bali belly or stomach flu--you feel horrible. This is how connected we are.
Anxiety, Panic Attacks and the Gut
Many of your neurotransmitters are made in the gut, but the imbalance of gut flora (bowel bacteria) can also lead to effects in the brain, as many of the bacteria not only influence the balance of neurotransmitters but travel to the brain via the vagus nerve. (1)
Streptoccous overgrowth in the bowel can lead to anxiety and panic disorders. (2) This condition is diagnosed by a doctor who can order and interpret a bioscreen (fecal analysis) and then prescribe the correct course of antibiotic and probiotic therapy.
1. https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/09/your-gut-directly-connected-your-brain-newly-discovered-neuron-circuit 2. https://www.adhd.com.au/anxiety-mood/anxiety-disorder-and-panic-attacks Research on the link between anxiety in children and strep infections. "From Throat to Mind: Strep Today, Anxiety Later?" https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/from-throat-to-mind/
Probiotic bacteria lessens anxiety and depression
Probiotic bacteria have the potential to alter brain neurochemistry and treat depression – related disorders and anxiety according to research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The research demonstrated that mice fed with Lactobacillus rhamnosus JB-1 showed significantly fewer anxiety, stress and depression-related behaviours than mice fed with broth. Ingestion of the bacteria resulted in lower levels of the stress-induced hormone, corticosterone and caused changes in the expression of receptors for the neurotransmitter GABA which improves mood and feelings of wellbeing. This is the first time that it has been demonstrated that probiotics have a direct effect on brain chemistry. The study highlights the important role that gut bacteria play in the communication between the gut and the brain and opens up the opportunity of developing unique microbial-based approaches for treatment of stress-related psychiatric disorders such as anxiety and depression. For those looking to enhance their mental health, the study offers interesting insights, but the specific lactobacillus bacteria used in this research may not be present in many off-the-shelf probiotic foods. Many fail to realise that your gut is literally your second brain, and can significantly influence your mind, mood, and behavior. Mounting evidence indicates that ignoring your gut may have far-reaching psychological consequences and it’s becoming increasingly clear that nourishing your gut flora through proper diet, from birth, is extremely important for proper brain function. The greatest concentration of serotonin, a neurotransmitter, which is involved in mood control and depression, is found in your intestines, not your brain. This lends further credibility to the idea that your first step toward balancing your mood is to nourish your gut flora. What Interferes With Healthy Gut Bacteria? It is important to understand that your gut bacteria are an active and integral part of your body, are heavily dependent on your diet and vulnerable to your lifestyle. If you consume a lot of processed foods and sweetened drinks, for instance, your gut bacteria are likely to be severely compromised because processed foods can destroy healthy microflora and sugars of all kinds feed pathogenic bacteria and yeast. Your gut bacteria are also very sensitive to: • Antibiotics • NSAIDs • Alcohol in excess • Agricultural chemicals • Pollution • Stress Exposure to these items, at various stages in our lives, means it is generally a good idea to repopulate our beneficial bacteria in our guts by taking a high-quality probiotic supplement or eating fermented foods. How to improve gut health: Eat little and often: Eating large amounts of food in one sitting stresses the gut by giving it too much food at once to digest. Chew your food well and stop eating just before you feel full. Prioritise wholefoods: Stock up on vegetables, fruits, nuts and legumes. If the food on your plate looks colourful, fresh and diverse you are off to a good start. The best way to restore your gut is to stop assaulting it with processed food all the time. Eat fermented foods: Healthy choices include lassi (an Indian yoghurt drink, traditionally enjoyed before dinner), fermented grass fed organic milk such as kefir, various pickled fermentations of cabbage, turnips, eggplant, cucumbers, onions, squash and carrots, and natto (fermented soy). Aim for at least one daily serving of a food with probiotic or “live” cultures. Bulk up on fibre: The more fibre you have in your diet, the more diversity you’ll have in your ecosystem. Aim for 25-38 grams of fibre a day by eating foods such as wholgrains, vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds and also remember to include water in your diet to improve the effectiveness of fibre. Cut back on sugar: Refined sugars acidify the system and prompt the body to make more bile. Pathogenic bacteria feast on sugar and bile acids. Therefore, too much sugar may tip the bacterial balance toward the more unhealthy side. Relax: In a 1999 study published in the International Journal Gut, people in gastrointestinal clinics cited severe life stress as a precursor to their gastrointestinal problems. We know that stress breeds inflammation and also upsets the parasympathetic nervous system, which controls the contractions of the intestine, thereby changing the speed at which food moves through you. Get 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night: Sleep not only regulates hormones in the gut that contribute to feelings of hunger and satiety, it also enhances the immune system. When the body is deprived of sleep, even for one night, the immune system suffers. Probiotic bacteria may lessen anxiety and depression-related disorders, according to the latest research, by Caroline Noonan.
First section References: 1. Gut Microbiota Profiling and Gut-Brain Crosstalk in Children Affected by Pediatric Acute-Onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome and Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated With Streptococcal Infections. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29686658 2. Anxiety: 11 of 21 studies say regulating gut bacteria may help https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/325226.php 3. The Gut Microbiome and the Brain https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4259177/