The gut is no longer seen as an entity with the sole purpose of helping with all aspects of digestion. It’s also being considered as a key player in regulating inflammation and immunity.
A huge part of what determines the communication between the brain and gut is the microbe. The microbe is good bacteria, fungus, and protists that live in your gut. The total size of them is 2 to 6 pounds (that’s 2 times the size of the human brain.) These microbes help us survive by absorbing nutrients and boosting our immune system.
Unfortunately, when the body is under stress it releases inflammatory cytokines in the gut. These chemical messengers bring a certain part of our immune system into high alert. When this happens the brain reacts to stress like an infection and, in turn, kills some of the good bacteria in the body.
If the stress is persistent then a chronic infection develops. In fact, current research has shown depression as an inflammatory disorder mediated by poor gut health. Animal studies have shown that manipulating gut bacteria can produce behaviors related to anxiety and depression.
Healthy Digestion & The Secret Life of Serotonin
by Jo Jordan and Jim Danna, M.A.
We’ve all heard the expression, “You are what you eat.” Never was there a truer statement. Everything we do in life depends upon our digestive system’s ability to derive nutrition from what we consume.
But how does the digestive system work? What is the brain-gut connection all about, and how does it affect mood, health, and just about everything else? And what are the necessary ingredients for a healthy digestive system?
The answers lie within your belly…
Serotonin: The Brain-Gut Connection
Another vital aspect of our digestive system is its role in the production of serotonin – the body’s natural “Feel Good Hormone”. Over ninety-five percent of the body’s serotonin is found in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, which has been called the body’s “second brain”1 because of its role in serotonin production and so many of the body’s vital functions. In fact, serotonin levels have been linked to everything from autism to constipation.
Serotonin is a key player in the functioning of GI tract muscles, causing the contraction of our intestines, and triggering the gut nerves which signal pain, nausea, and other GI problems. As well, it influences the functioning of the cardiovascular, immune, and renal systems. This amazing hormone also regulates aggression, appetite, cognition, mood, sexual behavior, and even sleep.
A neurotransmitter (chemical by which nerve cells communicate with each other or with muscles), serotonin is manufactured in our bodies from the amino acid tryptophan, which is derived from the food we eat. Diet, then, influences not only the state of our digestive system and overall physical health, it also has a profound impact on memory, mental clarity, mood, and even the foods we crave; these functions are all regulated by serotonin.
Digestive Diseases & Disorders
The list of ailments linked to a malfunctioning digestive system is long and varied. It includes: Acid Reflux, Candida, Celiac disease, Constipation, Diabetes, Diarrhea, Diverticulitis, Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), Gastroparesis, Gluten intolerance, Helicobacter pylori (peptic ulcers), Indigestion, Inflammatory bowel diseases (including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis), Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Malabsorption, Obesity , Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth Syndrome (SIBO)
contains St. John’s wort, which research shows provides dietary support for a positive mental outlook after four to six weeks of use, and inositol, which complements the activity of St. John’s wort by playing a role in the proper transmission of nerve signals.*
Diet Is Vital to Serotonin Production
Nutrition is vital not only to our physical health; it’s necessary to a properly functioning digestive system capable of producing sufficient amounts of serotonin. A diet of “real food” – one rich in organic fruits and vegetables and free of trans fats, refined wheat and sugar – goes a long way toward preventing the build up of toxins in the colon. And when it comes to serotonin production, the importance of raw foods for their nutrient value and serotonin-boosting properties cannot be over stated.
Our bodies require serotonin as well as tryptophan, the amino acid from which it is manufactured.
Tips for Ensuring Adequate Serotonin Levels
Since it’s almost impossible to get the daily nutrients we need from the food we eat, vitamin supplementation is critical. There is no other single thing you can do to improve your digestive and overall health than to support your digestive system with a daily VITALIZER or LIFE STRIPS.
Of course, the vitamins you take with good intentions do absolutely no good… unless your body can digest the pills! Many dollars have been wasted on “bed pan bullets” that pass through unabsorbed. The solution – take Bioavailbe Supplements and Probiotic Shake. Increasing your nutrient intake also helps foster serotonin production.
Liver DTX Complex is uniquely formulated with milk thistle seed extract, reishi mushroom, Schizandra chinensis, dandelion, turmeric, and artichoke.
This product helps to:
Suggestions For a Healthy Gut
The enzymes in our Digestive Multivitamin are a good start. To really focus on specifically improving your digestive system, give your gut a hand by taking a digestive enzyme supplement, and maximize the production of serotonin. Enzymes help to break down sugars, leaving little left over for the bacteria to munch on. An enzyme boost may maximize your nutrient absorption and, by extension, increase serotonin levels.
Having read about the difference between good and bad bacteria (above), the importance of probiotics may now be clearer. Probiotics can help restore beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract to healthy levels, keeping a proper balance between good and bad bacteria. Probiotics can also help with nutrient absorption, which may help to increase serotonin levels
Shaklee Life Energizing Shake
Shaklee Life Shake contains nutrients clinically proven to help create the foundation for a longer, healthier life. It is designed to increase your energy, help you achieve a healthier weight, and provide incredible digestive and immune support from fiber and probiotics.
Available in soy and non-soy formulas
The Shaklee Life Energizing Shake Mix comes packed with:
Keeping the digestive tract cleansed is a good strategy for dealing with digestive disruption. A diet rich in fiber, plenty of liquids, and regular exercise all contribute to regularity. Herb-Lax contains an enhanced prioprientary blend, including Senna leaf, which has been used for thousands of years as a natural laxative, plus other complementary herbs. Periodically undergoing a colon cleanse program can help balance the good and bad bacteria in your body.
Being regular make it easier for your body to eliminate impurities and absorb nutrients, all vital to serotonin production.
When Gut Bacteria Changes Brain Function
play a role in regulating how people think and feel.
A growing group of researchers around the world are investigating how the microbiome, as this bacterial ecosystem is known, regulates how people think and feel. Scientists have found evidence that this assemblage—about a thousand different species of bacteria, trillions of cells that together weigh between one and three pounds--could play a crucial role in autism, anxiety, depression, and other disorders.
“There’s been an explosion of interest in the connections between the microbiome and the brain,” says Emeran Mayer, a gastroenterologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, who has been studying the topic for the past five years.
MENTAL ILLNESS and the Gut Connection:
We are never truly alone. On our skin, in our gums, and in our guts live 100 trillion organisms, altogether known as the microbiome. These beasties comprise 90% of the cells of our bodies, though these cells are so tiny in size that it appears our own human cells predominate. It is only recently that we have begun to study these organisms with any depth. Most of them live within the gut, and cannot be cultured, and only with the advent of advanced genetic testing have we been able to have a better understanding of the variety and numbers of microbes we’re dealing with. They are Bacteria, Archaea, and even some eukariotic parasites, protozoans, and fungi.
What do they have to do with psychiatry? It turns out way more than we might have suspected. The gut and brain have a steady ability to communicate via the nervous system, hormones, and the immune system. Some of the microbiome can release neurotransmitters, just like our own neurons do, speaking to the brain in its own language via the vagus nerve. Read More
Online today in National Geographic, science writer Melissa Pandika shines a spotlight on research exploring how disruptions in the body’s normal digestive bacteria may worsen autism symptoms in some individuals with the disorder.
“Research has revealed striking differences in the trillions of bacteria - collectively known as the microbiome—in the intestines of autistic and healthy children,” she writes. “But the gut bacteria in autistic individuals aren't just different. Researchers at the California Institute of Technology have shown for the first time that they may actually contribute to the disorder.”
Autism Speaks is at the forefront of advancing this promising field of investigation, with a major new research initiative exploring autism’s “gut-brain connection.” See “Autism Speaks Invests $2.3 Million in Research on Gut-Brain Connection.”
“Listening to our parents, we hear how often autism and GI problems can go hand in hand,” says Autism Speaks Chief Science Officer Rob Ring. “While we now know that autism and gastrointestinal problems frequently co-occur, improving our understanding of the underlying biology becomes essential for developing needed treatments.” Read More
ANXIETY and DEPRESSION
The Brain-Gut Connection
Anxiety and depression have been thought to contribute to gastro conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). A Johns Hopkins expert explains how what’s going on in your gut could be affecting your brain.
Can Food Affect Your Mood?
Although there is a lot of folklore around this subject (particularly with spices such as pepper and curcumin or teas), there is really not enough rigorous science to make practical recommendations. A basic healthy diet is really important. Beyond that, listen to your gut. Your nervous system and gut may be wired to react to certain foods, and you may feel better if you avoid them. If you’ve ever come back after lunch and felt tired, nauseous, or a little “fuzzy,” your enteric nervous system may be reacting to something you ate—and sending signals to your brain.
If you’ve ever “gone with your gut” to make a decision or felt “butterflies in your stomach” when nervous, you’re likely getting signals from an unexpected source: your second brain. Hidden in the walls of the digestive system, this “brain in your gut” is revolutionizing medicine’s understanding of the links between digestion, mood, health and even the way you think. Read More:
Autoimmune Disease: A study establishes new connections between gut microbiota and autoimmune diseasesSpanish Association of Lupus (Federación Española de Lupus). A new research study, lead by researchers from the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC-Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas), has deciphered the profile of gut microbiota in SLE patients. read more
Migraine Associated with Gastrointestinal Disorders: Review of the Literature and Clinical Implications
Saskia van Hemert,1,* Anne C. Breedveld,2 Jörgen M. P. Rovers,3 Jan P. W. Vermeiden,4 Ben J. M. Witteman,5 Marcel G. Smits,3 and Nicole M. de Roos2
Recent studies suggest that migraine may be associated with gastrointestinal (GI) disorders, including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel syndrome, and celiac disease. Here, an overview of the associations between migraine and GI disorders is presented, as well as possible mechanistic links and clinical implications. People who regularly experience GI symptoms have a higher prevalence of headaches, with a stronger association with increasing headache frequency. Children with a mother with a history of migraine are more likely to have infantile colic. Children with migraine are more likely to have experienced infantile colic compared to controls. Several studies demonstrated significant associations between migraine and celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and IBS. Possible underlying mechanisms of migraine and GI diseases could be increased gut permeability and inflammation. Therefore, it would be worthwhile to investigate these mechanisms further in migraine patients. These mechanisms also give a rationale to investigate the effects of the use of pre- and probiotics in migraine patients.
In a recent British study, researchers evaluated the diversity of organisms and presence of parasites in people from 192 countries and compared their results with the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease in those countries. Remarkably, they found that in those countries having the greatest degree of hygiene, in other words the least amount of parasites and microbial diversity, rates of Alzheimer’s were dramatically increased in comparison to those countries in which harboring parasites was actually very common and the gut organisms were more diverse. Read More_
Recent studies have shown that there is a link between addiction and relapse after rehab and healthy gut flora. Professor Fredrik Bäckhed from the University of Gothenburg stated during a guest lecture at Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research at Copenhagen University: “Our results provides strong evidence that alcohol addiction is not only in the brain, but that it in some cases can be associated with an imbalance in the intestinal flora.”
The study conducted by Professor Bäckhed and his colleagues examined the reactions to sobriety in alcoholics. 60 alcoholics participated in the study, 26 of whom had low levels of gut flora and suffered from leaky gut syndrome. After the test period of 19 days, the 26 subjects with impaired digestion showed a much higher level of depression, anxiety and alcohol cravings in these subjects as compared to the 34 test participants with healthier guts. These results clearly indicate a link between healthy gut flora and recovery from addiction. Read More