HEAL YOUR GUT...HEAL YOUR BRAIN ~ Michelle Tonkin ND
Did you know that 20% of adults suffer from some mood disorder like anxiety, depression and these are usually a top 3 on their health complaints? Unfortunately, conventional medicine while it can be helpful- around 30-40% of ppl still don’t respond to these treatments. There are now some natural suggestions for gut support that can help. There are around 10 to 100 trillion bacteria present in the gut terrain and when there is an imbalance in this microbiome, gut issues can arise. A study was done recently that noted the differences in bacterium related to those who were healthy and those suffering with depression. The more severe the depression, the more notable differences in gut bacteria- especially with the bacteria Faecalibacterium. Studies were done to study the effect of beneficial bacteria with three different groups of women who consumed either plain milk, no milk, or milk fermented with probiotics 2x/day for a period of 4 weeks. The mri of these results demonstrated that those who had consumed the milk w probiotics showed changes in the areas of the brain responsible for emotional behavior.
“There is no debate, in my mind, that microbes influence mental health,” says Jane Allyson Foster, whose lab at McMaster University in Canada is leading research in this area.
Healing the brain is therefore possible through healing of the gut. Although not all mental disorders are due to gut issues, those suffering from gut imbalances can definitely see improvement.
It’s a combination of different friendly bacteria that show to be the most helpful for those suffering with mood disorders.
These microbiomes can help to maintain the integrity of the gut wall. If the gut barrier is compromised, things like food particles, viruses, bacteria etc. can pass through and cause a condition known as Leaky Gut Syndrome.
We will discuss more about Leaky Gut and gut healing options later on.
The gut is also responsible for assisting the brain in producing what are known as neurotransmitters. These chemical reactors help produce one’s emotions. Serotonin for example is a happy neurotransmitter which also help to regulate our internal clock. Many of the body’s neurotransmitters like serotonin are actually made in our digestive system- made possible by microbiome and gut cells. GABA which is also manufactured in the gut is responsible for helping the body deal with fear and anxiety.
An imbalance or lack of good bacteria therefore could contribute to stress, anxiety or depression.
Research has also shown that there is a connect between the central nervous system and the gut known as “the microbiome–gut–brain axis (MGBA)”
This relationship “is involved in diverse neuropsychiatric diseases in children and adults.” (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7830868/)
This includes autism as well as ADHD.
ADHD AND GUT HEALTH
Beneficial bacteria is also crucial to the “development and function of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis” this system basically is foundational in the body’s neuroendocrine system and how it handles stress.
ADHD has been shown to be attributed genetics (70/85%) environmental factors (premature babies, lower birth rate, and even emotional component such adoption or neglect. ADHD symptoms can include: “Deficits in executive functions, such as behavioral inhibition, working memory, set-shifting, planning and organization.”
Studies have shown that imbalances in the gut biome of those with ADHD such as excess levels of Bifidobacterium or Ruminococcaceae could be possible causes.
Specifically, the bacterium “Ruminococcaceae_UGC_004 shared sequences with microbial species with the ability to consume the GABA neurotransmitter” (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7830868/)
Remember that GABA helps to calm the brain in stress and anxiety.
“Patients with ADHD regularly suffer with immune dysregulation, low-grade inflammation, and a leaky gut—all three of the warning signs that the microbiome is sending bad signals to the brain.” (https://www.potomacpsychiatry.com/blog/mighty-moody-microbiome-gut-bugs-adhd)
“Suffering from ADHD demonstrate dysfunction in their brain’s reward pathway. This pathway plays a critical role in “reinforcement, motivation, and learning how to associate various stimuli with reward”—and to function properly, it relies almost entirely on our body’s supply of dopamine.”
The way dopamine works in the brain is process that all starts with the gut biome.
Those with ADHD have excess amounts of Bifidobacterium which is part of a process to finally create dopamine. Dopamine is what our body uses to regulate
“Reward, incentive, motivation, and positive reinforcement.” (https://www.potomacpsychiatry.com/blog/mighty-moody-microbiome-gut-bugs-adhd)
“Researchers have found that increased Bifidobacterium is the origin point for a dysregulated dopamine/reward pathway”
This understanding could be a means for research to be done that could help millions suffering from this disorder.
So, what can we do now to help heal the gut?
Leaky Gut Syndrome (LGS) is the result of an imbalance of beneficial gut flora
(More bad bacteria than good, i.e., dysbiosis), which can result in reduced immunity. By definition, Leaky Gut Syndrome is “an increase in permeability of the intestinal mucosa to luminal macromolecules, antigens and toxins associated with inflammatory degenerative and/or atrophic mucosal damage.” (Glenn Gibson, “Leaky Gut Syndrome?”. Reprinted from AIA Newsletter No.18 (Summer 1997).
Even if not the direct cause, it is possible that secondary infections of
Candidiasis would add insult to an already present viral activity. Its presence will
perpetuate exhausting and debilitating conditions for the immune system in this disease process.
When the immune system is weakened for a period of time, then opportunistic
Candidiasis can develop. If this overgrowth is permitted to continue, it will produce very long roots called rhizoids. These vine-like roots can actually puncture the mucosal lining of the intestine. When this lining becomes damaged, the resulting condition is called “Leaky Gut Syndrome” (meaning that the mucosal lining has developed small holes). (Glenn Gibson, “Leaky Gut Syndrome?”. Reprinted from AIA Newsletter No.18 (Summer 1997).
These microscopic holes allow food particles, bacteria, viruses, parasites,
funguses, and yeasts like Candida to flow freely into the bloodstream. The body sees these particles in the bloodstream as foreigner invaders and goes on the offensive, producing antibodies to attack the intruders. This can result in the development of food allergies, environmental/chemical sensitivities, and ultimately autoimmune disease processes. Although not “officially” recognized in the medical community, Leaky Gut is becoming an epidemic in our world. Most medical professionals would agree that if the gut is not healthy; the body is not healthy. Many of them have come to the understanding that chronic disease begins with the gut.
Supplements to Heal the Gut
• Antifungals (essential to get candida overgrowth under control, so
that the vicious cycle that causes L.G.S can be halted. Examples are: Cumanda, Oil of Oregano, Olive Leaf Extract, Pau D’ Arco,
Monolaurin (from coconut)
• Change Diet to more Whole Foods Based and avoid known
allergens. Common ones are wheat, corn, gluten, shellfish, dairy.
(Very little lactose in whey, most are fine) very little refined sugar as it
can feed yeast. Good herbs you can add are marshmallow root and
Deglycyrrhizinated licorice root. These two are Adaptogenic and are
known for helping to decrease inflammation, stimulate the body in
producing protective mucus, help to heal the gut lining, reduce
discomfort in cases of constipation and diarrhea and also improve the
function of acid.
• EFA (Essential Fatty Acids) Aid against inflammation, provide the
body with essential nutrients, good fats, helps with hormones
(Hormones are made from cholesterol- these provide good fats to
build from and are recognizable by the body. Also helps to soothe the
• Enzymes (naturally present since birth but decrease as we age. Used
to be present in our foods but farming practices have stripped not
only nutrients but enzymes- even organic. Use supplement form to
help the body in digestion taking burden off of gut.
• L-Glutamine (amino acid the body uses for repair of muscle- you
need more than you would normally get from food sources to heal gut
plus, it needs to be in an easy to absorb form. A great way to get L-
Glutamine is from Whey Protein. The Whey however needs to come
from a good source and need to be whey concentrated so that is the
whole part of the whey and not just isolated parts. Also, L-Glutamine
is present in Bovine Colostrum and Colostrum is great for immune
health as well as healing muscle and nerve tissue.
• Probiotics (re-establishing the good bacteria in the gut so it is once
again, at a healthy balance (80-20) A good probiotic is stable meaning
it can survive the heat of the gut and has at least the 2 most common
found in the body – Bifidus and Acidophilus. Another good bacteria to
be on the lookout for is Lactobacillus Rhamnosus GG as studies have
shown it to be very good in leaky gut issues. Some other good ones
are Lactobacillus Casei and Saccharomyces Boulardi. Many to choose from on the market, also good to get it in foods like fermented
foods. (Keifer, Natto, sauerkraut etc.
Healing your gut/brain will take some work, but the benefits to having a healthier gut/brain balance will be well-worth it in the end! Start off small today, making some simple changes in your diet, supplements etc. Take it one step at a time. Small steps over time equal big successes! Blessings, Michelle
https://www.potomacpsychiatry.com/blog/mighty-moody-microbiome-gut-bugs-adhd Glenn Gibson, “Leaky Gut Syndrome?”. Reprinted from AIA Newsletter No.18 (Summer 1997). Tonkin M, (2012) Lyme & Co-infections, The Road to Recovery