Heal Your Gut, Heal Your Brain - The Connection You Need to Know About
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Heal Your Gut, Heal Your Brain

by Chris Kresser

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Are you among the 20 percent of adults suffering from anxiety and depression? Find out how nourishing your gut microbiome can make you happier and more relaxed.

At the California Center for Functional Medicine, a significant number of our patients list anxiety or depression as one of their top three health concerns. This is not at all surprising given that anxiety and depression are two of the most common mental health issues in our society, with anxiety disorders affecting approximately 18% of adults in the U.S. (1) Anxiety and depression are not the same, but they are often experienced together as a complex set of emotional and functional changes. (2)

Both anxiety and depression, along with other mood and neuropsychiatric disorders, such as eating disorders, bipolar disorder or sleep disorders, generally result from a complex interplay of factors. These may include a combination of nutritional, physical, environmental, social, emotional, and spiritual factors, affecting your genetic tendencies and brain biochemistry (meaning that your neurotransmitters, or the chemical messengers within your brain, can be affected by these key components of well-being). You can think of anxiety and depression as disruptions in brain health.

Treating the cause not just the symptoms

While conventional medicine, not surprisingly, offers medications to treat the symptoms of anxiety and depression with somewhat limited success (data suggests that 30 to 40% of patients do not respond to current drug strategies), we take a very different approach in our functional medicine practice. (3, 4) It’s important to recognize that medication, particularly antidepressants, can be essential for some people, particularly those with more severe depression, and a decision to start or stop antidepressants needs to be discussed with your health care provider. I never recommend coming off antidepressants too quickly, and there are times when patients clearly benefit from the support of these medications.

What surprises many of our new patients who ask for help with their anxiety or depression is that we start by looking at the health of the gut. For those of you who have followed this blog for any amount of time, you’ve probably picked up on a common theme here that you have to have a healthy gut microbiome for optimal well-being.

Having trained in conventional medicine, this idea was not intuitive to me even five years ago. But now, after reading the scientific literature on the microbiome-gut-brain axis, and working with patients to heal their gut and seeing the incredible improvements in mood, I’m convinced this is the starting place to heal anxiety and depression.

Anxious, stressed, or depressed? Healing your gut may be the solution.

A growing body of evidence shows that our beneficial gut bacteria support positive mood and emotional well-being

The gut microbiome, which we’ve discussed in a number of prior articles and podcasts (here and here), refers to the microorganisms, predominately bacteria (somewhere on the order of 10 to 100 trillion) and their genes, living within the human gut. Many of these microorganisms are in fact essential for good health. When the balance of beneficial bacteria in the gut is disrupted, disease can occur.

The relatively new understanding of how microorganisms affect every system of our body, along with the incredible volume of research on the microbiome is leading to a shift within medicine, and specifically a shift towards appreciating how important it is to care for our healthy gut bacteria.

Differences in the gut microbiome exist between people with anxiety and depression and those without

Numerous studies in animal models show convincing evidence of a strong relationship between the gut microbiome and mood. For example, studies have found significant differences in the types of gut bacteria in animals exposed to various types of stress such as maternal separation early in life, social stressors, or prolonged restraint. (5, 6, 7)

One study, published this month, examined the specific differences in the bacterial make-up of the microbiome in patients with major depressive disorder in comparison with healthy individuals. (8) Significant differences were identified between these two groups. Additionally, the severity of depressive symptoms was related to the amount of a specific bacterium. A lower relative abundance of Faecalibacterium was associated with more severe depression.

Altering the gut microbiome with probiotics can decrease feelings of anxiety and positively affect emotional processing

Several studies show evidence for reduced feelings of anxiety and improved aspects of well-being after taking probiotics. (9, 10, 11)

One study used functional MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), which is a type of imaging that looks at brain activity, to evaluate the influence of gut microbes on emotional behavior and underlying brain mechanisms. (12) Specifically, three groups of women were given either fermented milk with probiotics, non-fermented milk, or no intervention, twice daily for four weeks. Functional MRI was performed both at the start and completion of the study to look at brain activity in response to an emotional attention task.

The women who consumed the fermented milk with probiotics showed changes in regions of the brain crucial in emotional processing. This study provides further evidence that supporting the gut microbiome can provide measurable changes in emotional processing within the brain.

Additional support for the connection between the gut microbiome and mood came from a study that showed the use of specific probiotics significantly decreased anxiety-like behavior in rats and reduced psychological distress in humans. (13)

Nourishing your beneficial gut bacteria will also reduce anxiety and decrease stress

A recent study evaluating the effects of prebiotics on well-being provided additional evidence of the gut bacteria positively affecting mental health. (14)  Prebiotics are carbohydrates that humans cannot digest, but bacteria in our guts can.

In this study, 45 healthy individuals were asked to take either a prebiotic or placebo every other day for three weeks. Cortisol measurements were taken from saliva samples at the beginning and end of the study to evaluate the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis activity (an important factor contributing to anxiety and depression). After three weeks, the participants completed a series of tests designed to assess how they processed emotional information, such as processing facial expressions of the six basic emotions, and responding to positive and negatively charged words.

The results showed that individuals who had taken the prebiotic had significantly lower cortisol after three weeks, meaning they showed physiologic evidence of a decreased stress response. And the prebiotic group paid more attention to positive information and less attention to negative information when compared to the participants who were given placebo. This suggests that when confronted with negative stimuli, the prebiotic group would have less anxiety, similar to that which has been observed in some people taking antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication.

Use an integrated approach

Therapy and, in some cases, antidepressant or anti-anxiety medications can be important pieces of treatment. But if underlying imbalances in the gut microbiome are to blame (which is often the case in our experience), you won’t heal until they are addressed.  This functional medicine approach to mood disorders is something we specialize in at the California Center for Functional Medicine. It is an approach we frequently find to be more effective than conventional treatments, allowing many of our patients relief from their symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Now I’d like to hear from you: Have you noticed any improvements in your mood by adding prebiotics or probiotics to your routine? Or, have you noticed changes in your mood after becoming sick with food poisoning or other GI illness that disturbed your microbiome?

Amy NettAbout Amy:  Amy Nett, MD, graduated from Georgetown University School of Medicine in 2007.  She subsequently completed a year of internal medicine training at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, followed by five years of specialty training in radiology at Stanford University Hospital, with additional subspecialty training in pediatric radiology.

Along the course of her medical training and working through her own personal health issues, she found her passion for functional medicine, and began training with Chris in June of 2014.  She has recently joined his clinical practice to work with patients through a functional medicine approach, working to identify and treat the root causes of illness.  Similar to Chris, she uses nutritional therapy, herbal medicine, supplements, stress management, detoxification and lifestyle changes to restore proper function and improve health.

187 Comments

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  1. Do you recommend a test or a way to check the status of your gut health? I’m a healthy person and don’t have any noticeable issues, but like to learn more about my health and understand it all.

  2. These gut-brain connections in regard to anxiety and depression are so real! I learned by accident over two years ago when I started taking the Plexus probiotics to help unlock my weight problems, and found that they also improved my mood and stress level to the point of NEEDING to back off my anti-depressants! (Breaking out into random giggles isn’t right anymore than the depression is!)

    As an over-50 Grandma, I had spent most of my life since I was a child struggling with anxiety and depression, being sad and withdrawn all the time or spiking fits of rage, going on and off meds depending on the severity during that season of life. The last 2.5 years being on the Plexus ProBio5 consistently has been the happiest most relaxed and fun time of my life! While being able to lose 40lbs was nice, this balanced difference with my mood has made the biggest difference in my daily life! I finally feel like a sane, happy person, which my family likes a lot more too!

    I’ve since turned into a research junkie trying to understand how it happened since I hadn’t expected all that. Thank you for this article and the research you’re doing to help others at the core health level!

  3. I had a brain tumor removed in March of 2015 and my mental health was affected greatly. Not only did I have cognitive issues like memory loss and analytical thinking, but I had severe depression and anxiety attacks almost daily. This went on for almost a year and a half. I did some research on gut health and decided to try supplementation with Plexus products and to change my diet. I started in August of 2016. Within a few short weeks I had a considerable change in the brain fog, memory, and calculating issues, as well as my energy level that was previously non-existent. The biggest surprise came when my husband asked me about, a month after starting, when the last time I had an anxiety attack was, and I couldn’t tell him. I found myself looking forward to family gatherings and events that used to overstimulate me and keep me from being out of the house. I also went back to work the next month, in a very public role. I truly believe that my gut health was what was holding me back after my ABI. I have gone on to study more about the gut-brain connection and I am convinced a healthy gut makes all the difference in the world.

  4. Who would of thought that gut bacteria could be used as a nootropic. Guess I am going to try out some probitoics and see how it goes for me. Any recommendation on dosages and time frames?

    • Clausen Pickles, Saurkraut or Kimchee with lunch and dinner. This is a good and inexpensive start. Add Papaya and Pineapple enzymes to help digestion.

  5. I have been on many brands/types of pro and prebiotics, and never felt any improvement whatsoever. Always gave something at least 3 months, usually more.

  6. Pro-biotics, yoghurt, Kefir, have never done anything for any of my health issues that are caused supposedly from a dybiosis. Different brands, different strains, etc etc, no difference.

  7. I’ve just read the book “The Skinny Gut Diet”. I remember a few years ago my then naturopath telling me I needed to heal my gut before looking at managing my thyroid and I dismissed it.

    I’m now seeing how important it is to heal my gut, especially since nothing else has really improved my health much.

    Being 30 lbs overweight has crept up over the last 15 years and my doctor recently said I was pretty healthy and had ONLY detected low grade inflammation in my body. That’s from an unbalanced microbiome in my gut!

    I’ve been down the path of treating just the thyroid but have recently started (just this week) on a course of probiotics, digestive enzymes, fibre (from fruit, veg, linseed, chia etc – no grains at all – no/low sugar – paleo basic, I guess).

    I’m hopeful. I see being overweight as unhealthy these days (rather than not looking good).

    Rose

    • The change in both mine and my husband’s mood and affect has been astonishing since we both started taking Plexus products. I did NOT expect any effect, and have been totally stunned at what we have experienced. Their ProBio5 probiotic actually contains both probiotics AND prebiotics. My husband is experiencing relief from severe IBS symptoms, and our energy level is double or greater. We are blow away by it and are thrilled beyond measure. I am in my 60’s and he is about to turn 60. I still marvel every day at how GOOD I feel!!! As a health care professional myself, I can’t believe I ‘missed’ all this research. I guess when we specialize, we tend to stay within that field and not notice others as much. Now, the more I read on this, the more I am convinced that the developers of the Plexus products have hit upon a combination of probiotics that apparently helps the majority of people–and their “Pink Drink” is truly amazing. I tried it out of curiosity after watching people rave about it for over a year and a half. Now I’m worse than they are, LOL!!

      • I have had anxiety on and off for 20 years just started investigating the link between the vagus nerve which comes from the brain right down into the stomach where the messages go back and forth I am looking at gut health for the first time I have never heard of this before but looking at the research about ithe I going to be reading up on everything and trying each new food group and idea u can as i want to get of the drugs as they are crap and only give me bad side affects and an increase in weight

    • A good way to get some good probiotics in your gut, I think , is to start fermenting your own sauerkraut, pickles , etc. This method is going to have multiple times more Probiotics in a live state as opposed to a capsule.

    • Acidophilus is a good one. Years ago when my children were young (and so was I) I developed IBS which was probably caused by my anxiety and also my very stressful and time intensive career as a court reporter. I took acidophilus for a couple years every day, pill form, and also a tablespoon of Citrucel in water. My IBS resolved, my bowels were corrected. I felt great! Well, here I am now 60 with one adult child with a severe mental illness (schizophrenia) and we have the genetic predisposition for Sz so while I was not shocked I was dismayed because I never believed this would ever actually happen! Sooo long story short, I am now so very sad and also extremely anxious and have been self-isolating and my health has started to suffer. I’m looking into this gut-brain connection lately because I just can’t go on like this. I started back on the acidophilus just a few days ago and praying this helps.

  8. Fluoroquinolone antibiotics – cipro, levaquin, avelox, floxin and their generic equivalents – are particularly hard on the brain. They mess up GABA receptors and cause anxiety, insomnia, depersonalization, and worse. In a survey of 94 people who experienced adverse reactions to Levaquin/levofloxacin, a fluoroquinolone antibiotic, 72% reported experiencing anxiety, 62% reported depression, 48% reported insomnia, 37% reported panic attacks, 33% reported brain fog and/or cognitive impairment, 29% reported depersonalization and/or derealization, 24% reported thoughts of suicide and 22% reported psychosis. DO NOT TAKE FLUOROQUINOLONES IF YOU VALUE YOUR MENTAL HEALTH!! Very little can be done to repair the damage done. They don’t tell you that in the commercials when they say, “see your doctor if __ occurs.” http://floxiehope.com/2014/12/08/fda-petitioned-to-add-psychiatric-side-effects-to-black-box-warning-for-fluoroquinolones/

    • That is NOT necessary to put on these sites how the adverse reactions are hard to repair once damage is done! Have you ever considered how many people are looking for hope and answers. And you ALWAYS post EVERYWHERE about how everyone basically needs to suffer after they have had reactions. YES, they cause damage but so do many other drugs out there. And our bodies are designed to heal with the right things and time. So please reconsider how much fear you put in people who are in fact suffering from these awful side effects. You are adding more fear to everyone with these posts/comments everywhere online. Please consider when you are getting the word out, adding people CAN and DO recover from this…….. God Bless

      • Good point. Nothing is irreversible. Of course some things take more time than others. But robbing people of hope is wrong. On that note, I can’t stand the conventional mindset around “bad news” and “diagnoses”. My limited experience has taught me telling someone they’re going to die or giving them a diagnosis of ANYTHING is a sin. And I don’t mean that in the dogmatic religious fanatic way. I mean it in spirit. When they do that, it is no different than casting g a spell. In fact, it literally IS spellcasting. For anyone who doesn’t matter” get that”, you’re sorely misguided. Blind followers. There is no such thing as “false hope”. Hope is inspired. Hope is gratitude. Giving up, a sin.

        • Did you know that the body is designed to heal itself? As long as you are alive there is always hope. I have a friend that duke University doctors put him on a machine for 10 days in a coma and his organs were renewed. You can go on a 21 day and night fast and you body will renew itself. Research it find out for yourself. The God I serve (his name is Jesus), can do anything but fail.

      • It is my thought that the body can be very unforgiving however, I am convinced that a ph. balanced body recovers from most everything. The one thing that may not be reversable is scar tissue, for example, in the stomach or lungs etc??? I am convinced that sickness, disease, cancer etc. cannot thrive in a healthy host or ph. balanced body. I’ve never seen a sick fish in a ph. balanced fish tank. But what a sewer it is when the tank has not been cleaned. MikeRyan.

        • Again, just my thought but, if everyone were to ph. balance their body’s, I suspect more than half the Dr’s In the world would be out of business, as well as, pharmacists and pharmacy related companies. Forgive the comma’s in the wrong place, I had stomach issues that day in grammer school. MikeRyan.

    • I had the reaction of anxiety, panic, depression, and depersonalization from Prilosec. I have been off of it for 5 months and am still suffering months later.

      • Me too. I have taken Prilosec for years, but have recently quit.
        I have anxiety and depression which have come and gone but have kept me from maintaining a job.
        I have recently, over the past 6 months, have seen the best days of my life. I am 48 years old and turbo charged.
        I have noticed my depression is directly related to city water. Of course! City water has chlorine and flouride designed to kill bacteria. Therefore probiotics do not work. I started treating my acid reflux with Apple cider vinegar, my new balance has increased my energy and I take Maximum Vibrance and have cut out all foods consisting of antibiotics (designed to kill bacteria). Thanksgiving went without turkey and ham. I fill a 5 gallon water bottle from a friends well and eat nothing but fish and venison (what I catch).
        I must admit it takes about a month to feel the diference but I have never felt this alive.
        Good luck to you.

  9. I suffer from both Depression, and H pylori. Due to the medication I am on and can not quit taking for the depression ( citalopram SSRI) I can not take the triple threat treatment for the h pylori. The h pylori is causing the depression to get worse (being in constant pain) my GI doctor has offered no other treatment or solution for the h pylori, saying that the triple threat treatment is the only treatment. Any suggestions?

    • @Holly Comment
      I don’t know what meds you’re on, so you must figure out if this might help or not.
      But in our family, we’ve repeatedly used GSE to kill off H.Pylori VERY effectively, usually with usually only one serving.
      GSE = Grapefruit Seed Extract.
      It’s very bitter, mixes well in about 1/2 cup water.
      We always buffer that bitterness by adding a packet of Tangerine EmergenC powder to it, too. Citrus flavors help camouflage the bitterness.
      GSE has a VERY long shelf-life. I used some that had been stored at a remote cabin for over 13 yrs, and it was still very strong and effective….it had just turned a darker amber color, over time.
      GSE fixed this way, also kills off most food poisoning.
      My Doctor had always told her patients who were traveling, to use 1 or 2 drops in citrus juice every morning, to avoid catching “Montezuma’s Revenge” [parasites].
      We’ve used it topically and internally, and for disinfecting countertops, etc.
      I’ve also soaked lemons [bot from Costco–those always get moldy too fast] in it in a large bowl, overnight, to help prevent them getting moldy.

  10. I dont know if this conversation is still being looked at but I hope to get a little feedback. This past winter I experienced (for the first time in my life) feelings of severe depression. I have, all of my adult life lived with anxiety disorder, but never depression. I also have, for the past year, been having chronic loose stools (by chronic, I mean all of my BMs are loose, not that I sit on the toilet all day!) In researching the depression, I came across the idea of the link between brain and gut health, so, I have been working with a functional medicine FNP, who has had me on an elimination diet, and now a elimination/candida diet, as well as, a strict probiotic (100b cfus/day) plus specific probiotics, herbal, and vitamin regime. For the past 3 months I have eliminated gluten, corn, soy, sugar and sweeteners, most oils, starches, mushrooms, citrus, limited fruit, several grains, nuts, all white and processed foods, plus I have been vegan for many years. Needless to say, my diet is very clean and I consider it healthy, although I might not really get enough calories, as I am a yoga teacher by trade and probably burn more than I consume. My whole point is, I dont feel any better. Each bowel movement is still loose and almost always urgent. The feelings of depression still linger (although I havent had an episode of severe depression like I did in the winter). Frankly, I havent noticed any benefit at all to this new way of life. Do I need to give it more time? My NP thought for sure I would have celiacs, but gluten free hasnt improved any symptoms nor did it show on tests. My fecal test results show over abundance of some beneficial bacteria, way too high triglycerides but healthy pancreatic enzymes, on the border of too low e.coli. She says my various test results point to malabsorption and leaky gut, but we cant figure out what’s causing it. I just turned forty, am in good physical shape, healthy BMI, healthy diet and lifestyle, practice stress reduction techniques ( am not very stressed anyway), have a healthy self-esteem, spiritual life, financial life, etc. If I could improve one area of life, I guess it would be going to sleep earlier, I stay up late but do get 7-9 hours of sleep everyday…maybe earlier bedtime is important? Should I just be patient to see if the diet and probiotic/herbs/vitamin regime eventually make a difference? Should I visit a more allopathic minded physician to see what they say? I am willing to try anything and happy to hear any suggestions and ideas…this messy poop and lingering odd depressed feeling has got to go! Thanks for reading, I hope to hear some thoughts 🙂

      • I have to agree with you. That book is packed with information if you are looking to understand your gut and its’ relationship with your brain. I recently did a 3 week cleanse from a book called “Clean” and I feel great. I don’t have the book handy so I don’t know the author. I learned from a nurse practitioner that l-glutamine is needed to heal the gut lining. Probiotics as well, but more so after you heal the gut.

    • Hi Lili,
      I appreciate the amount of info you are providing here. 3 months is not very long when it comes to healing the gut and turning things around.
      What comes to my mind is NOURISHMENT. If you are eliminating so many things in order to reduce the irritants and to detox, what are you adding to provide deep nourishment? It might just take time for your body to absorb the good stuff you are providing it. If you have leaky gut then it takes time to heal that. If you are vegan it might take even more time to heal leaky gut. if you are eating a lot of raw then it might not be easiest for the gut to deal with. If you are not opposed to consuming meat broth or fish broth that might do wonders for healing your gut lining at the same time providing deep nourishment that is easy to absorb.
      Are you border line at the low end of your healthy weight? if you have loose bowels every day then you might be depressed from not absorbing enough nutrition. Combination of borderline low healthy weight and loose bowels can result in depression in my experience.
      Tests are tricky to interpret. go for multiple tests over a length of time. Learn this from Chris. Keep going and relax into the process. Getting second and third opinions can’t hurt but might be exspensive.

      • Hi Lili, looking at your diet, like Angela, I’d suspect possible malnutrition. Also, sorry to introduce a new varable, you could be suffering from an intestinal parasite (I had Giardia for years – have you been abroad, could be years ago ?).
        Personally, I think if you’re following the right path, you ought to be feeling much better in a month let alone 3. So I am not convinced of the wisdom of your current regimen. Also, I hadnever heard of so many people suffering on some sort of fructose intollerance. If you haven’t observed any obvious adverse effects yourself, I’d go for more fruits (and the meat or fish Angela suggested). Have a look at the movie Superjuice me and become convinced of its power. Lifethreatening, complex diseases turned around in a month. I did sth similar in one week and it was very powerful. It will confront you though. I practice EFT for that.
        Good luck !

        • Hi David,
          I know it’s been a few years since your post but… I have a quick (yeah right :-)) question… How long did you suffer from giardiasis? I recently tested positive for giardia to my surprise (an earlier stool test showed nothing). I have been suffering from chronic diarrhea for 7 months now and was told it was probably due to mold exposure (I have CIRS as a result), SIBO and collagenous colitis (also a recent diagnosis which some research suggests may be a result of some kind of infection (like giardia maybe?). I’m wondering if the root cause of my problem may be a chronic giardia infection that’s led to these other issues. Just wondered if you would be willing to share your story. Looking for answers. Thanks!

    • You mention depression this past winter – which points to seasonal affected disorder. The best treatment for that is usually vitamin D. I need at least 3000IU to prevent becoming ‘SAD’ late winter. I don’t think the time of day you sleep matters much, as long as you get enough hours and see daylight at regular times to regulate your body clock. A dawn simulator can help to regulate your body clock. I function better keeping later hours. Whatever works best for the individual.

    • It says you are vegan in your post. I’m not a massive fan of meat eating but know on a paleo diet I feel much better. Leaky gut is very sensitive to carbs and carbs do have a massive impact on the gut when it’s leaky. What proteins are you eating? And fats?

    • Get your Vitamin D level checked. We don’t get enough D in the Winter, and that can cause depression. Either supplements or eating a lot of mushrooms will help.

    • Hi Lili, you sound like a classic case of Clostridium Difficile (c-diff) which can cause anxiety and depression. I would ask to be tested via stool stample asap!

      • If you have c. diff you will want to seriously investigate fecal microbial transplant (FMT). It’s an extraordinary approach.

    • Hi Lili,
      Have just seen these posts and not sure if this response is too late…but the first thing that comes to mind when you talk about loose stools and symptoms that worsen in winter (depression) is internal cold (referring to concepts in chinese medicine.) Your digestive tract is a burner that breaks down foods to extract nutrients – internal cold slows this process and it sounds like the foods that are left in your diet would probably be mostly raw and cooling foods, which would make it worse. I would look to warm and nourish your system to support digestion. Look for warming and nourishing foods such as sweet potato, warming broths with garlic and ginger.
      Hope you are doing well.

    • You might want to check out a genetic mutation, the MTHFR 677 that effects the ability of the gut to manufacture adequate enzymes such as methionine, SAMe, serotonin, dopamine and the body’s major detox substance glutathione.

      Everyone gets a Methyl Tetra Hydro Folate Reductase
      gene from each parent. Two mutations ( homozygous) significantly reduce essential enzymes, creating health
      risks. Search Dr. Amy Yasko and Dr. Ben Lynch for
      treatment suggestions ( supplement a methylized folate).

    • Hi Lilli, been there too, for me the answer lay In an inbalance in my Neurotransmitters in part due to a vegan diet. Try increasing GABA with the amino acids Taurine and L glutamine and Glycine for inhibiting Noradrenaline.

  11. i really enjoyed this article, I’m hoping by improving my gut health I can reduce the impact of my ADD to my life.
    I see my biggest challenge as my gastric sleave procedure. I had it done before I knew better and after years of following conventional advise and not making any progress.

    So my stomach is just over a cup in capacity and I’ve lost all the rest of it (literally) so I must repopulate what I have left.
    Apparently I don’t absorb my nutrients properly either (labs to be done next week)
    There’s so much I want to work on but I think gut is the first thing I should work on since it has received the worst treatment from me (I butchered it and have a crazy insane sweet tooth ( I’ll literally eat chocolate till I feel sick and keep going till its all gone, knowing the whole time I should stop but not being able to)
    Tomorrow I quit gluten and start my cross reactive foods research.
    I also brew kombucha and have started trying to involve sauerkraut in at least one meal a day.

    Are there any people like you guys in Australia?

  12. I find that by eating properly maintaining nutrients and recommend everybody do a juicy smoothie once a day, with your veggies, and fruits to keeps the doctor away.

    When growing up my grandparents my grandma Carrie who lived to be in her nineties, family member’s aunt Daisy, who lived to be 106 outlived 2 younger husbands, did not follow all of this stuff and she ate responsibly, but made sure she had that fiber every morning or in her diet.

    My siblings and myself know what good farm fed food is about and were blessed to go to Grandma and Grandpa Cheers farm where they raised and grew every single thing we put into our lives. Thank God for them!

    I really do feel what one persons stomach may need for complete well-being does not mean that another’s stomach requires the same.

    I am 62, walk everyday, eat what I practically want, but am a health nut and have weighed the same most of my life which maintains a young person of age 34 BMI, blood pressure fluctuates, but due to whether I am sitting, lying or standing and live life to the fullest!

    I thank you for your posts Chris and keep them coming!

  13. Wow – interesting article! I have suffered with anxiety from time to time over the last year or so (perhaps it was related to going on the pill and the effects on my gut?)…so I’m encouraged that starting on fermented foods more regularly could help me out!

  14. Are you aware of any studies that compare the effects of introducing a variety of so-called “pro”-biotics into the human gut? For example, does drinking kombucha interfere with the action of Bulgaricus cultured yogurts? Or how do “pre”biotics affect L. acidophilus colonization? Does B. longum interact competitively with inulin? And do all these biologicals inhabit different parts of the GI system or are they all competing in the same biome?

    It seems to me that many of us are “playing doctor” with our intestinal flora — perhaps to our detriment.

    I know that whenever I take pre and/or probiotics I end up gassy and bloated, often sluggish and low-energy, and craving massive amounts of grain-based carbohydrates — even after several months of use. Given the vast number of these supplements on the market, do you think there should be some sort of watchdog to make sure we’re not inadvertently wreaking havoc in our bowels?

    Thanks.

    • The trick to probiotics is human strain. Good quality. Not off the shelf supermarket ones or yakult and all those useless brands. I think unless you have no problems with your guts then taking a good quality probiotic can help many problems.

  15. Splenda has recently been linked to the gut biome, and not in a good way. It seems that Splenda may do enough damage to warrant most physicians in the know to say “no” to the sugar substitute. If you consider the emotional shrapnel as well, the logic holds water. This throws an interesting twist into the fitness industry, where we are fighting an uphill battle against people’s emotions, obsessions, and habits. The best advice is usually the hardest for people to swallow. You shouldn’t be consuming so much sugar in the first place, like maybe 10% of your current intake for most people, so you shouldn’t need to substitute it. We need a whole new appraoch.

    • Adam,

      Great points! I agree with you that it’s often best to learn to favor savory foods and decrease sugar, even sugar substitutes. In working with patients it seems that initially this can take a lot of effort and will power, but eventually most people seem to “retrain” their taste buds. I was surprised that even Stevia was linked to harming the good gut bacteria in one study described here:

      http://suppversity.blogspot.com/2014/11/stevia-kills-good-gut-bacteria-one.html

      • Very interesting. I wonder how plausible it is that many foods actually do some kind of “damage” to the gut bacteria, as a small part of a larger ecosystem? If I only had a lab and some backing! Thanks for the reply.

      • I read the entire article you referenced. I have to say I’m wondering if you did. The damage was “slight” at best and reading further showed studies revealing many studies showing beneficial results. Just thought I would throw that in. Perhaps it’s all in how we read it?

    • “Functional medicine” is a new (trendy) term, not a formal field of study. Many practitioners in alternative fields (Chinese medicine, naturopathy, etc.) have extensive training in nutrition and establishing a healthy gut biome. Call up some LAcs or NDs in your town and ask!

    • Hi Jackie,

      I wish I had an easy answer for you! And this is why Chris is spending a lot of time right now putting together the Clinician Training program, so that we can get more functional medicine practitioners throughout the country!

      Many of our patients at the California Center for Functional Medicine come from out of state because of the paucity of functional medicine physicians. So, you are of course always welcome to work with us, but I do understand that the investment in both time and expense in traveling to California can be prohibitive.

    • The best answer is, read books and blogs, and watch videos at YouTube. You’re taking a major positive step by being here, reading the excellent blogs at this site. There are other great sites too.

  16. In the study conducted, the subjects were given fermented milk (kefir) twice daily for four weeks with very good results.

    You refer to kefir as having too much sugar to have much benefit (a contradiction to the study). I believe you are referring to manufactured kefir bought in a store. Kefir is the only food that cannot be manufactured, if you are buying it in a store, it is a processed, adulterated version of the real product. The only way to get the fully beneficial kefir is to acquire kefir grains and make it at home.

    My question is: What was the twice daily doseage amount?

    • I agree. Home-made kefir is the stuff of magic. All the author has to do is search on pubmed for the word “kefir” to see studies after studies how potent that thing is (that, and Greek Mountain Tea (herbal), another magic thing that most Paleos don’t know about). I believe that home-made kefir is instrumental is getting the right gut flora back — with time.

      • You are so right Melanie and Eugenia. Kefir is awesome. I start feeling calm after drinking some. And, when you buy the kefir grains you can control the ferment time. A 24-hour ferment will have reduced most of the milk sugars down to 0%. (Plus fermenting alters the milk proteins, which bother some people.) I routinely do a 48-hour ferment cuz I react better to it.

        You can also start making water kefir (if milk is a problem). However, it requires a different set of bacteria/yeasts than milk kefir. Water kefir is our “soda” for the summertime. Once it has fermented (24-48 hours) you remove the water kefir grains, bottle it and add in flavorings: fresh, cut up ginger or turmeric are our favorites. This 2nd ferment develops a real fizz.

        BTW, before I got real milk kefir grains I used the packaged “kefir” grains sold at the co-op. Not ideal, but it still gives you bacteria/yeasts for your gut colonies.

        There is a guy Dom in AU who is an expert on kefir; his FAQ will walk you through how to make it. He also runs a yahoo group about kefir making.
        Laura

    • Hi Melanie,

      To answer your question about the fermented milk product used in this study, it is described as follows:

      “…fermented milk containing Bifidobacterium animalis subsp lactis (strain number I-2494 in French National Collection of Cultures of Micro-organisms (CNCM, Paris, France), referred as DN-173 010 in a previous publication, together with the 2 classical yogurt starters, Streptococcus thermophilus (CNCM strain number I-1630) and Lactobacillus bulgaricus (CNCM strain numbers I-1632 and I-1519), and Lactococcus lactis subsp lactis (CNCM strain number I-1631). The test product contains 1.25 × 1010 colony-forming units of B lactis CNCM I-2494/DN-173 010 per cup and 1.2 × 109 colony-forming units/cup of S thermophilus and L bulgaricus.”
      This was provided in 125 gram pots consumed twice daily.
      If you follow the link provided this study is accessible for public access, so you should be able to read the full article if you have additional questions regarding the study design.

      And I do agree with you, kefir is a great source of probiotics. I’m sorry if I gave the impression somewhere that I think it’s too high in sugar to be included as part of a healthy diet — I would absolutely recommend homemade kefir!

      • they have different bugs. I read years ago that kefir can recolonize the gut whereas yoghurt need to be repeatedly consumed (does not colonize). Someone else will have more info in fact, I bet Chris has whole pages on the question of different fermented foods.

  17. I have a question. I eat a Paleolithic diet, avoid sugar and processed foods, eat organic, pastured/grass fed meats and tones of vegetables along with fermented vegetables. Exercise and am very healthy, especially for a 62 year old.

    I know young weight lifters and athletic types who have days every week where they consume mostly carbs from sugars, even candy and cakes (carb loading). They are all in excellent shape. Is this diet healthy? How can they get away with it? Thank you in advance.

  18. How very true this is between the gut and our mood! Everything comes from having a heathy intestinal tract. I should know because my is not healthy. I started noticing changes around 50 and by the time I was almost 55 I had been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, Degenerative Disk Disease, and Ahalasia. Enough said huh ? Does this cause stress ? Yes it’s a definite factor in my life. Medicines for depression do not work for me because my system can’t take it. Two days after trying a medication a bout of terrible diarrhea took place. We have to find other ways of dealing with this. Support groups, family, meditation and additional nutrition. Thanks Jamiep

    • If you haven’t read Mood Cure by Julia Ross, run out and get it right now. I can’t promise it will make everything better, but there’s a decent chance it will help.
      The only thing is, if I recall she doesn’t recommend the dosage of omega-3 that are used in the studies that find it to be effective. Those studies use in the 2000-3000 mg range.

  19. Both my husband and I have found some relief in our anxiety and depression from gut healing. For me, amino acid supplementation is finally what gave me the biggest boost. Though I suspect eating paleo/ancestral/real food type of diet is what allows the amino acids to do their job, along with healing my gut!

  20. I don’t disagree with the power of pro/probiotics, but I wonder if some of the study subjects saw an improvement in their mood because they tried to follow a healthier diet along with the probiotics — whether encouraged to or via their own volition. Eating a nutrient-rich diet lifts one’s mood. Would be interesting to see results adjusted for type of diet.

  21. I just want to share my experience in hopes it may help others and get medical professionals to look deeper into symptoms. I am in mid 40’s and recently diagnosed with Hashimoto thyroiditis with 2 nodules on the thyroid and was experiencing extreme fatigue, confusion and memory issues while trying to care for 2 children under 5 (i.e. recent birth). I went to endocrinologist, cardiologist, family practice doctor and ended up at my gynecologist with more severe symptoms and the beginnings of depression. The confusion and memory issues were taking its toll and the depression was getting worse. I watched Dr. Oz on one occasion and he talked about iron deficiency and to get a real look at it get the Ferritin lab test. I went to my family doctor and requested the test and they thought I was crazy and it would lead to nothing being found as my other labs showed I was not anemic. They did it and it came back that I was low on red blood cells in my bone marrow. He prescribed an iron tablet and I started on it, but after 2 weeks it was not showing any signs of helping anything. I went back to my gynecologist and she changed that iron Rx to Ferralet 90 and in 2 days I could tell it was helping. My fatigue has completely gone away and I have more energy now than when I was in my 30’s. The confusion and memory issues have resolved as well as the depression. Is there a link to all this that goes that deep as if the body can’t produce enough of the building blocks to keep everything on track that it all starts going out of whack? The thyroid is also back in reasonable range, while I am testing better on iron and red blood cells in bone marrow. My gynecologist has said I could stop the Ferralet 90, but I have chosen to keep a maintenance regimen going by taking it every other day and am still feeling good. I am not a doctor only a patient and I am not sure if this will help anyone else or if the medical profession should test further into symptoms of all those dealing with depression to see if there is a link. I lost my sister to depression and she was on Rx for depression which seems to have made things worse. Maybe the link to low red blood cells should be looked at in all cases of depression (and postpartum) as I have noticed looking back that most depressed patients have a washed out look about them.

  22. Very informative article. It’s nice to see this subject finally getting so much attention.
    About 17 years ago I had breast cancer and I found a great doctor who helped me heal my gut and guided me with nutrition and supplements. I finished my chemo feeling the best I had ever felt in my life. Due to the distance I had to travel, I did not continue with this doctor and I did very well on my own until I had a major surgery and other stresses in my life.
    Slowly, I felt my life spinning out of control and I felt like I was on my way to a second cancer. I was having a lot of stomach issues and I spent 2 months eliminating all the possibilities with every scan imaginable (or so it seemed). I realized I had to revamp my diet again and began researching. I went back to the basics and started eating very clean and added prebiotics/probiotics and other supplements needed to heal my gut but I just wasn’t having the results I hoped for.

    I am now under the guidance of a wonderful Dr who has been instrumental in tweaking my diet and getting me on supplements that are more powerful and effective. I have also done a bowel detox and learned that I don’t process carbs well.

    I now feel like a new person! My energy is back. The positive me is back and I don’t feel like my life is spinning out of control. I have a long way to go, but what a change in just 4 months!

    What I feel people should be aware of is it is very hard to have the results you are hoping for without the guidance of a skilled professional. I succeeded in healing my gut once but this second time has been much harder due to different issues. I can’t say enough for getting educated advise geared specifically to your own situation.

  23. Great article, thank you! As someone who has struggled with anxiety and depression for years (due to a brain injury from a car accident) and who is seeing remarkably good changes happen with healing my gut – let me share what is working for me.

    I’m addressing anyone who has to do this w/o benefit of a doctor due to having no health insurance and/or having doctors who just don’t get it, and think the answer to every ailment is their prescription pad.

    …and I’m also addressing people who are disabled, with very limited resources and on Medicare or Medicaid. Even with little money you can make little changes – every week – which will accumulate into healing for you and your mental illness (dysbiosis);

    1. Get in the habit of researching the hell out of your health issue. I spend every available hour digging on the Internet for prebiotic, probiotic, resistance starch, fermentable fiber, fermenting, gut-brain/vagus nerve communication, depression & anxiety and food connections. All the info you need is available, for free, on the net;

    2. Learn to ferment. Sauerkraut as remedy for depression! Our ancestors survived with fermenting food. It is not hard, it’s just a new skill set our mothers didn’t teach us. The (soil-based) bacteria that you need to take up residence in your gut are made available through the organic veggies you grow or buy at the farmers’ market and your home fermenting. You CANNOT buy these bacteria in a pill and even when you use a probiotic pill (soil-based) you simply cannot get the quantity AND variety of good bacteria which your own kitchen and garden can provide, three meals a day;

    3. Make your own yogurt. Most commercial yogurts (even the “good” organic ones) don’t ferment long enough (1 hour or less?!) or, worse, they pasturize the yogurt (which kills the bacteria!!) and add in harmful ingredients. Look up how to make GAPS or SCD 24-hour yogurt; the number of bacteria (billions in every mouthful) in your own yogurt is phenomenally higher than ANY commercial yogurt.

    As you get more comfortable with your yogurt making you can buy individual bacteria to target a mental health issue. I bought B. infantis bacteria and made a single-strain, 24-hour yogurt with it. B. infantis grows tryptophan-serotonin. In my own gut! How cool is that!

    These bacteria (Lb. paracasei, Lb. delbrueckii. subsp. bulgaricus, and Lb. plantarum) make GABA in your gut. So, I gotta find out where to buy them and, hey, can I ferment them in my kitchen and make GABA-yogurt? Actually, delbrueckii is the original yogurt strain from Bulgaria; so they knew how to keep the tribe happy with sour milk thousands of years ago!

    Make kefir – even easier than yogurt and it has more, varied bacteria AND yeasts.

    Find somebody near you who makes kombucha. Barter to get some every week. Kick [email protected]@ healthy for your gut! Learn how to make your own, takes patience but once it’s up and running you have your own supply to bottle up every week.

    However, yogurt and/or kefir and/or kombucha will not re-populate your gut. You need soil-based bacteria! How? Probiotic pills, yes, but more importantly, your own ferments;

    4. Straighten out your diet. Paleo/GAPS/SCD/the Perfect Health Diet/ Chris Kresser (smile)…start researching and get off of sugar, eat loads of veggies, grass fed meats, healthy saturated fats, fermentable fiber, and REAL, unprocessed food (not factory-made food-like-substances);

    5. Join a CSA; buy your veggies DIRECTLY from a farmer. Join a food co-op. Are there Amish farmers near you? Find out and buy from them. Start a garden!!!

    6. Do not make the mistake which VLC/Paleo/GAPS/SCD/AIP etc. diets do, which is to delete fermentable fiber from your diet. That would be A Terrible Thing. There are billions of bacteria in your gut and that is their food. Deprive them of fiber and they die. Learn what they eat – eat it – and they begin to thrive again;

    7. Learn everything you can about fermentable fiber: FOS, GOS, inulin, polysaccharides, starch, fermentable vs non- fermentable starch, resistant starch, etc. You have to learn how to feed the family living in your colon who are ready, willing and able to make you serotonin, GABA and B vitamins which are low in anybody with mental illness. You have a factory which ONLY YOU can get up and online to become operational;

    Every day I now eat things like Jerusulem artichokes or dehydrated plantains or (soaked for 24-48 hours and cooked) lentils or roasted/cooled potatoes to feed the gut bugs. I understand little about what to eat for fiber or which food feeds which bacteria. But every day I learn a new fact and run to the food co-op and buy that food and implement more healing.

    The latest food I am adding in are mushrooms; they provide beta-gluten (I didn’t know what the hell that was a week ago) and they get into our body and help clean up messes and heal us. They are also a powerful, fermentable fiber; gut bugs love them;

    8. Assume that food is your medicine. That is the way humans are supposed to work. Every mouthful counts;

    9. Assume that your mental illness is greatly influenced by the health (or not) of your gut. Learn how to fix it. BigPharma will be very happy to keep selling you pills for the rest of your life (and destroying your gut bacteria as an added benefit); you need to take the reins;

    10. Research probiotics: exact brands, which bacteria do they contain and does it need refrigeration and what is the CFU of each pill. Are they a fly-by-night company (don’t buy their bacteria which are likely already dead: caveat emptor.)

    These things are expensive!!! Make every pill count. Find out which probiotic bacteria you can ferment in your kitchen and save a ton of money. Do you have to take one a day forever? Find out that answer and save money;

    Probiotics are pills. We have been trained to think pills heal. They may not. They are a temporary measure until you can get your own factory up and running. They are an essential fix for most of us but the big change is your daily food and daily ferments;

    11. Research the work of the Orthomolecular doctors. Their body of knowledge via their journal, is online, free for the searching. They began healing mental illness decades ago with the things natural to a human body: vitamins, minerals, amino acids and food. Modern medicine has marginalized their work. They get mental illness and how to heal the imbalances in our body which manifest as “mental” illness. Dr. Carl Pfeiffer is one name; Dr. William Walsh is another. This school of healing understands the power of, for example, one B vitamin (B3) and its power to heal schizophrenia or a combination of deficiencies causing havoc in a human (B6 and zinc deficiencies causing Pyroluria).

    Dr. William Walsh has identified 5 different types of depression, based upon clinical testing of nutritional deficiencies. There is not one type of depression! Find a doctor who will read his book or who was trained by him (good luck, they are few and far between);

    12. Learn about detox. As you shift your gut with food you will experience uncomfortable changes in your body. Take changes SLOW and learn the ancient methods we humans have to get rid of poisons;

    13. Borrow all these new, awesome books on healing you see referenced on the web from your local library (free) or do like my husband and I do: our Fri. night date is to go to our local [big-name, national chain bookstore], buy a cup of tea and a Paleo treat and read the books we find on the web;

    14. Do not EVER give up hope! Find friends (online or at home) to support your rigorous investigations as a citizen scientist! Mental illness stinks but you CAN heal it or make it better;

    15. Go visit the Anxiety Summit, hosted by Trudy Scott. She has assembled an incredible body of experts who understand food, healing and anxiety/depression. The interviews are FREE initially, so you can plug the relevant interviews (date/time) into your calendar and listen – and learn – for free! See:

    http://www.everywomanover29.com/blog/anxiety-summit-starts-next-week/

    16. This takes time. It could take a year …or two. But it is your life and that is A Most Valuable Thing. Invest in you. Eat sauerkraut. Eat cooked/cooled potatoes (RS3) …and leave depression & anxiety in the dust!

    Chris and Amy, thank you for this; you are helping so many people whom our society has marginalized, who live on SSDI or SSI/Medicaid and cannot get help save through blogs like yours. Those of us with mental illness often end up poor and without help or community. (Medicaid understanding fermenting as a medicine for depression and having an ICD-9 code for billing? I don’t think so.)

    Your blog is one way to get the word out. I learn so much from your website and books and you are my go-to guy when there is any new thing I want to try for healing!

    HTH (even 1 person),
    Laura

    PS would you consider a podcast on Pyroluria? Maybe Dr. William Walsh as a guest? (…who lists Pyroluria as one of a subset of those with depression. It’s an underlying factor in large percentages of alcoholism, schizophrenia, depression, ADHD, etc.) …and Trudy Scott who, herself, has Pyroluria, and posts regularly about it. (I got it, too.)

      • David, Claire, Angela,

        You’re welcome!

        BTW, I wasn’t clear: it is your own homemade *vegetable* ferments which appear to have the best possibility of colonizing your gut with permanent residents. Milk ferments (lactic acid producers) offer transitory bacteria – which do help your immune system / mood on their way through. But it is your own vegetable ferments (with all those new & different strains of bacteria from your garden, soil, farmers’ market veggies, and environment) which have the likelihood of great diversity in bacteria which will colonize your gut (soil-based bacteria). You will eat them often increasing robust and permanent colonization of your gut over weeks and months of b’fast, lunch & dinners.

        That said, I may still eat my own homemade yogurt and kefirs for the rest of my life as my daily mood medicine. It works, why stop?

        Many rounds of anti-biotics and/or anti-depressants and/or pharmaceuticals over our lives killed off our ancestral bacteria … and seriously jeopardized our immune system which is 80% in our gut. So, as a gardener does with his/her garden, we have to deliberately & methodically create & sustain fertile, healthy “soil” … and re-seed.

        The gut-brain connection is very real and powerful; explore exercises to strengthen vagus nerve communication going from gut to brain. This is also key to positively affecting mood.

        Let me add two very helpful studies to read:

        1. Fermented foods, microbiota, and mental health: ancient practice meets nutritional psychiatry, January 15, 2014

        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3904694/

        2. Collective unconscious: How gut microbes shape human behavior [a review]
        Journal of Psychiatric Research, April 2015

        http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022395615000655

        If you decide to improve mood / brain function by changing your biome / diet, expect a bumpy ride. Read, research and find other people to learn from. We are all pioneers…and need each other’s support and wisdom as we test the limits.

        Read these three books to learn how to ferment:

        Sandor Katz: The Art of Fermentation & Wild Fermentation
        Kirsten & Christopher Shockey: Fermented Vegetables

        Laura

        • Thanks Laura,
          Actually I already know what you mean about home made fermented veggies from your own garden (or locally grown being the best and most abundant source of beneficial microbes for our gut health. And yes to Katz books – haven’t read the other one you mentioned. I was first exposed to the importance of home fermented foods from Macrobiotics, taught by the Aihara’s. I’d include the use of high quality fermented(unpasteurized non- GMO organic) miso, shoyu and natto. Soy is low on people’s lists of good foods. But I think with proper fermentation these soy foods offer valuable nutrition for gut health.
          And yes I am also learning about ways to stimulate the vagus nerve. We must have some similar sources. Where did you learn about the vagus nerve activation for gut motility? I’m learning about from Kharrazian, Tips and Seibecker.

          I love how you brought all these things together into one list.

          • Hi Angela,

            I started with Dr. Kharrian. I don’t know Tips and Seibecker: any URLS?

            Dr. Art Ayers, at Cooling Inflammation, is a goldmine as re. healing your gut. He is a biologist. Be sure to read all the comments; he actively participates. See:

            http://coolinginflammation.blogspot.com/2008/09/vagus-nerve-controls-intestinal.html?m=1
            and
            http://coolinginflammation.blogspot.com/2009/09/vagus-nerve-controls-gut-inflammation.html?m=1

            IBD and Vagal Nerve Issues: the Gut/Neck Axis
            http://ghn.thegraychannel.com/uncategorized/ibd-vagal-nerve-connection/

            Research Steve Mensing
            -the Longevity Manuever
            -the Dive Reflex

            Aryuvedic Medicine and Buddhists have known about this for thousands of years: meditation; chanting; oil pulling … We are newcomers to the party.

            I love it that singing and humming (and whistling?) stimulate vagus nerve activity. What’s not to like about doing those things every day to help heal your gut!

            I avoid soy cuz of GMOs, round-up and processing with hexane; I would be willing to consider Natto if I knew the source was clean. (Plus, be on the lookout: BigFood has vegans and vegetarians and soy foods in its sights. A biotech company named Seomyx, which has patents on human tastes (!), is working its magic on hiding things like MSG in foods – worse than is already being done w/o consumer knowledge: that is, no labeling required. I read that they are targeting all those soy-based foods which many vegans and vegetarians eat to include new & improved patented “flavors.” I believe Senomyx works with Ajinomoto, the company which owns the patent on MSG. See: http://www.naturalproductsinsider.com/news/2007/05/senomyx-solae-dupont-and-bunge-unite-behind-soy.aspx

            Peruse this whole (informative) consumer-safety website and protect yourself:
            http://www.truthinlabeling.org/senomyx%27s-fake-flavors.htm
            and
            http://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/new-propaganda-about-msg/
            Laura

            • It will take a while to check out and read all your links….thank you so much for being so generous with your time and writing all that here. I’ll look into it.

              I’d only use soy products that are first organically grown, non-gmo and then cooked and fermented using traditional practices, unpasturized. If you do that then you avoid many of the problems you list.

              As for Natto, I am not even looking for a commercial source. I plan to make it myself. I might need a coach so I’m looking for that too. I’ve heard of making natto with chickpeas…..

            • Big thanks Laura for the generous wealth of info and detail you’ve just given everyone (esp recs for further reading). It’s such a relief to hear from someone else who set on healing their mental health through nutrition. My motivation has been flagging and you’ve given me renewed impetus to stick with the kefir, stop making gorse wine and start fermenting sauerkraut ! Here in the UK Patrick Holford is the hero who brought Dr. Carl Pfeiffer’s work to our notice ; I co-hosted a small regional conference (way back in 2007) : Nutrition and Mental Health which brought NHS health workers and patients together to hear the discussion of methylation – key note speech by Patrick . I’d join with you in thanking Chris and Amy for the quality of information they give (research sources/ studies referenced properly etc) . It’s splendid and I’m very grateful!

              • Dear Rachel,

                Thanks for your comment: a fellow traveller. Yes, the Orthomolecular doctors understand that a mental illness could be a physical manifestation of a deficiency (or abundance) of a vitamin, mineral, amino acid …or (nowadays I am sure they are including) gut bacteria and the gut bacterias’ preferred food (fermentable fibers).

                So, switch that gorse wine to sauerkraut and organic veggie ferments, from your garden, if you can. Or do sauerkraut AND gorse wine…and send some across the pond to me…and I’ll return the favor with some awesome Jun culture kombucha!

                Rachel, I would really start studying the gut bacteria! Figure out exactly what foods bacteria like to eat and start eating it. Then research the heck out of specific gut bacteria and mental health connections. Get the right bacteria in and feed them everyday with a large variety of foods rich in fermentable fiber.

                I just finished off my 1st single – strain 24-hour yogurt: B. bifidus – and started my 2nd single-strain with B. infantis (this creates serotonin in the gut). Apparently, yogurt is an ideal carrier to get the Bifidos into your colon, alive (as is dark chocolate!-how essential a factoid is that?!) Bifidos also use yogurt (milk sugars) or dark chocolate as a food source: two fer one.

                …in all fairness I should also mention that the Bifidos like to eat raw onions, garlic, leeks and Jerusulem artichokes (inulin) as well as GOS (you can get this in GB: Bimuno.)

                I am noticing a brightening of my mood with the B. infantis yogurt, with only 2 days’ use. This is shockingly incredible! The power to alter mood issues for the positive is in our hands! …well, in our guts, that is. BTW, I used Natren’s bifido strains with great fermenting success. Try it.

                The regional conference you organized sounds awesome! Wish I could have attended! Sounds like you’re into a peer-advocacy model? Empowering people with disabilities…

                Hey, Rachel, post when you’ve got an update, I’ll watch out. So glad I could be an inspiration … just be sure to pass this knowledge on to others with mental illness.

                We are actively creating the next gen answer to depression and anxiety: food, bacteria, ferments, knowledge …and a warrior’s thriving immune system!
                Laura

    • Laura, About your number 6 and 7 – feeding the gut microbes with fermentable and the dangers of VLC diets…..I agree theoretically but for people with SIBO and possibly other gut problems for digesting fiber, it’s tricky. I think GAPS and SCD protocols can be very important for healing the gut BEFORE adding back in fermentable fibers. I don’t claim to have figured that out yet for myself but am working on it. It’s the conundrum of those type of illnesses. Needing the fiber to feed the healthy gut microbes but needing to avoid the fiber that can’t yet be digested properly or which feeds the pathogenic microbes. I resonate with what Kharrazian says about needing to fix gut motility and a lax IC valve before being successful in treating SIBO. What are your thoughts on when to add fermentable fiber when dealing with SIBO or similar gut issues?

      • Angela,

        I did GAPS for 1 1/2 years. Then I discovered the fermentable fiber / resistant starch / feed & seed your bacteria explosion of info on the net. Now that I understand about fermentable fiber and reseeding your gut, I realize that I was on GAPS for too long. I was starving my gut bacteria! I needed way more fermentable fibers! However, GAPS did offer me gut healing. But it also kept constipation going. So I experienced a dilemma.

        There is merit to the idea that the *process* of reseeding your gut can help with the removal of bacteria that are in the wrong place (i.e. overgrowth in the small intestine, SIBO). People are claiming that using resistant starch, for example, will pull bacteria out of the small intestines; they hitch a ride on the RS (raw, organic, unmodified potato starch or cooked/cooled potatoes or green bananas or green plantains, etc.) and leave the SI forever: no antibiotics needed. Also, there is merit to using bacteria (i.e. LABs and Bifidos) to reseed the colon so as to create an acidic environment, which will kill off pathogens, which die in an acidic environment. Eating sauerkraut every single meal could go a long way towards creating that acidic colon!

        I view this as a gardener would in rehabbing a plot, organically. Be methodical, test your soil, add amendments, see what happens, add / develop more compost and develop humus. Succession plant with the aim to, for example, initially increase nitrogen in year one. Plant plants next to each other that are complementary. Guard and protect your soil from the likes of death creators like round-up. Seek balance in your soil, encourage bacterial growth, don’t mine your soil, and the plants can’t help but prosper.

        I didn’t have very bad (obvious) digestive issues, as many do. What I do have are brain / mood issues. I have great sympathy for people whose guts are so out of balance that they react to, say, a raw carrot or a bite of kraut. So it might be that judicious use of bacteria (and their foods) could aid in the gut healing process, along with a simple diet that has totally non-inflammatory foods so there are fewer confounding variables.

        Simple diet with real foods and start throwing in bacteria and fermentable fibers, at low doses and slow. Journal results; discover what is working and what isn’t. If your symptoms get worse, dial back on strategies and go slower.

        Personally, knowing what I know now, I would have jumped in with both feet on a diet like Chris Kresser’s plus fermenting: ferments every meal, pre-digested by bacteria, so they’re easy on my gut, full of many more vitamins than the unfermented veggie AND full of good bacteria AND their food. Mouthful by mouthful get the bacteria down there doing my work for me. As it is supposed to be!

        It is sobering to realize that my iwhole body’s immune system is inextricably linked to the layers of bacteria in my gut. Inextricably… If there are no layers of bacteria there is no immune system… I never knew this before.

        Laura

  24. What do you do when you suffer from both anxiety and depression, but are allergic to milk, not just lactose intolerant? Do they make a probiotic from goats milk? I can tolerate that.
    Beverly

    • Hi Beverly,

      There are a number of wonderful probiotic sources that can be well tolerated by people who are allergic to dairy. For example, you can try eating sauerkraut or other lacto-fermented vegetables. You can also take a probiotic supplement such as Prescript Assist (http://store.chriskresser.com/products/prescript-assist-probiotic).
      Alternatively, if you can tolerate goat dairy, you can try making homemade yogurt or kefir from goat milk.

      • You can even get goat-milk yogurt commercially if you are not adept at making your own. Trader Joe’s carries a goat-milk yogurt that is the most delicious yogurt I’ve ever had from a ready-made source. And other health-oriented stores have it as well.

      • One could also try making SCD yogurt, using cow’s milk or goat-milk, and see if that is tolerated. Such is lactose free removing that as a potential sensitivity issue, but it does still contain casein. To minimize casein intolerance: one can try using A2 casein cow’s milk (this is from Jersey cows – this casein is thought to be better tolerated by some), or goat’s milk.

  25. I think there might be an error in the article. The abstract says that it is an inverse relationship between faecalibacterium and depression symptoms.

    • oops sorry, i see that new comments actually show in the top of the thread, not the bottom. my apologie for duplicate entries.

    • Erik,

      Thank you so much for catching that mistake! You are absolutely correct that it is a lower relative abundance of Faecalibacterium that is associated with more severe depressive symptoms. Thank you, I’ve made the correction and updated the article.

  26. I had an infection event which ended up being Lyme disease. I took a battery of antibiotics in the hopes of getting back to normal. I ended up with a host of new symptoms including allergies and severe anxiety at times. All new things.

    I found that taking fiber seemed to fix some of my allergy symptoms and, over time, the fiber along with extreme dietary modification relieved my anxiety. It’s all very experiential as opposed to clinical but I feel bad for those individuals suffering symptoms, like mine, and who haven’t made any of these connections. Thanks for the article.

  27. From the abstract of reference 8 we read: “Most notably, the MDD groups had increased levels of Enterobacteriaceae and Alistipes but reduced levels of Faecalibacterium. A negative correlation was observed between Faecalibacterium and the severity of depressive symptoms” which is the opposite of what is stated in the above article.

    • Hi Marvin,

      You are correct, and I appreciate you catching that mistake! I’ve updated the article accordingly, and apologize for the confusion. It is a lower relative abundance of Faecalibacterium that is associated with more severe depressive symptoms.

  28. I am 43 yrs old. I suffered from some anxiety/depression off an on for several years. I have always eaten pretty well and exercised off and on but I started taking probiotics and some other vitamins about 2 years ago and I swear they have cured me. I have not had any bouts with either anxiety or depression. The vitamins I take are a multi vitamin, vitamin D and a Stressed out vitamin by Vitalogic. I will never stop taking any of these as they have made a huge difference.

    • Hi Jennifer,

      Thank you for sharing your positive experience with probiotics and specific supplements — it’s always great to hear to success stories!

  29. To those who haven’t an idea what to use:
    There are scads of different ones.
    I’ve tried various yogurts: To date, have found readily available: Mountain High and Nancy’s, full-fat, Plain, have decent probiotics for those who don’t have serious health impairments, and these are usually available at most mainstream groceries in the Western States, as far as I’ve found so far [CA,OR,WA,AZ,NV,ID], for instance. There may be others with a good handful of live biotics in their brands, too.
    Kefir: . is good stuff, usually far too much sugar to be useful, unless you get plain. . .Kombucha is a great way to start, and can get that with chia seeds in it, for Omega 3’s and a bit of protein, and Fiber.
    For capsules: Mt. Capra has Caprabiotics Advanced, which is somewhat room-temp stable [I keep in refrigerated anyway]. This is local in WA, but may be found online, too. . . Garden Of Life has Multivits with Probiotics in them. Garden of Life is widely available online and in stores. There are many companies that make very good probiotics, like Klaire Labs, Metagenics [though they don’t have broad-spectrums in their products yet, I think?], etc.
    NOTES from my experience and knowledge:
    LOOK FOR: ones with the Most Varieties of Cultures and the Highest Counts, because by the time they get to you, the counts will be lower.
    IF you have anxiety and depression, find ones that have L. Rhamnosus. . . .Consider your personal situation: Acidophilus helps tighten up loose stools; Bifidus/Bifidobacteria helps loosen stools.
    ALWAYS store them in the refrigerator!
    IF you have health issues, take more, daily. I usually use 2 per day, but if sicker, use two twice a day, or more, depending on how sick. . . .IF you are the average person, can take the average label amount, usually on empty stomach.
    IF you must use antibiotics, fit your Probiotics into that schedule at least 2 hours away from, and on an empty stomach, the antibiotics.
    The sicker someone is, the more they usually need more Probiotics, is a rule of thumb.

    • I must include: I am NOT prescribing. Merely sharing information based on my knowledge and experience.
      Please use your own best information and be a responsible, accountable best advocate for yourself! Most Docs do not have a clue about these things; I am thankful for Docs like Chris , who do, and have guts to speak Truth to Power. Its up to individuals to learn as much as they can, and make their best, informed choices.
      IF what YOUR Doc tells you, conflicts with information here, or that you’ve learned elsewhere, it’s up to YOU to find the tie-breaker information in order to make your own best informed choices.

  30. I started taking probiotics to help me cope with my PTSD but broke out in eczema all over my body. Does anyone have any other suggestions?

    • Try Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) for PTSD it worked amazingly well for me…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lsQbzfW9txc.
      not sure about the eczema with the probiotics, maybe try another brand. also sometimes symptoms get worse at the start due to die-off of bad bacteria.
      Research on the internet.. don’t give up on the probiotics as everyone needs them.. and gut health is the key to good health

    • Try Jarrow’s Ideal Bowel Support which is a form of Lac. plantarum. It takes a couple weeks to see results but many people heal their skin issues on this probiotic.

  31. -Amy’s Article says:
    “… A HIGHER relative abundance of FAECALIBACTERIUM was associated with MORE SEVERE DEPRESSION.”

    -The actual research article reads and displays (in charts):
    “Most notably, the MDD (Major Depressive Disorder) groups had increased levels of Enterobacteriaceae and Alistipes but REDUCED LEVELS of FAECALIBACTERIUM. A negative correlation was observed between Faecalibacterium and the severity of depressive symptoms.”

    So there’s a conflict in article and research ?
    HIGH FAECALIBACTERIUM = MDD
    REDUCED FAECALIBACTERIUM = MDD

    – Have you noticed any improvements in your mood by adding prebiotics or probiotics to your routine?
    Yes, by consuming more INULIN–food sources and Metamucil–(the kind not generally found in the USA), MUCH more resilient to stress, and energetic in general. It’s been the magic bullet for me (specifically) for moving through the general stress of life–quickly. And many many of the little things that might have bothered me previously, now seem irrelevant.
    *** Consuming INULIN INCREASES FAECALIBACTERIUM prausnitzii (Pubmed article 18590586)

  32. Hi Amy,
    I’m hoping you can give me some advice.. I just tested positive for h. pylori infection yesterday, so my GI doctor prescribed a 10-day course of antibiotics and a PPI. Along with all the awful GI symptoms, I’ve also been depressed, irritable and fatigued.(I’ve had symptoms for 3 wks; I’m a 29 year old female) Should I be following a certain diet while undergoing treatment, or post-antiobiotic treatment in order to eradicate the h. pylori and keep it from coming back? I’ve read about various views/studies on this, but am overwhelmed with conflicting information. Is there any evidence that the FODMAPS diet is beneficial in eradicating the h. pylori bacteria? Also would you suggest taking a probiotic while undergoing this triple therapy of antibiotics? I would appreciate any advice! Thank you.

    • Hi Nina,

      I agree there is a lot of conflicting information out there! At this time I’m not familiar with any research specifically looking at the role of FODMAPs in treating H. pylori. But some research does suggest there may be value in eating a lower carbohydrate diet and keeping blood glucose under control.
      Here’s one article that found a correlation between carbohydrate intake and H. pylori infection:
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4275652/

      This article suggests that H. pylori growth may be promoted in higher glucose environments:
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4196111/

      Please note that I generally do not recommend a low carbohydrate diet for a number of reasons (especially for women due to the potential for hormonal imbalances), but it may be a reasonable therapeutic approach to help treat the H. pylori.

      There is also a fair amount of research suggesting that a diet high in vegetables can also support treatment/prevention of H. pylori. Here’s a review article published last month, “Dietary amelioration of Helicobacter infection.”
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25799054

      And yes, taking probiotics both while taking the antibiotic treatment and continuing after completion of treatment can be a great option to help support gut health and rebuild a healthy microbiome. As noted in another reply, you might want to consider a combination of different probiotics for more intensive support, such as Prescript Assist, FloraMyces and MegaSporeBiotic. And, once you’ve completed the antibiotics, you may consider adding prebiotic supplements like FOS, inulin, or Prebiogen (http://store.chriskresser.com/products/prebiogen).

      If your symptoms continue after antibiotic treatment and some time spent rebuilding a healthy gut, then you may want to consider additional gut testing such as a SIBO breath test, stool test and urine organic acids test to look for additional gut microbial imbalances.

      Hope this information helps!!

  33. I would love more information on what to DO to create a healthy gut. Which supplements? How much? Which probiotics? When? I find this article informative but not practically helpful.

    • There are a number of options to help support a healthy gut, and since I didn’t want this article to be too long, hopefully some of our prior blog posts and other resources on this site can help!

      For prebiotics, you may consider adding resistant starch (RS) to your diet, whether through food or supplements such as potato starch. To read more about how RS supports a healthy microbiome, and some specific suggestions for increasing RS, please check out my prior post: http://chriskresser.com/how-resistant-starch-will-help-to-make-you-healthier-and-thinner/

      You can also choose to supplement with prebiotics such as inulin, FOS or arabinogalactan for more intensive support. This approach can be good after a course of antibiotics or food poisoning when you may need the extra boost, but is not generally necessary in the long term if you eat a nutrient dense diet with a lot of vegetables — and, the more variety, the better.

      Another great resource is Chris’s e-book on gut health:
      http://my.chriskresser.com/ebook/gut-health/

      For specific probiotic recommendations, you may need to experiment to figure out which probiotics work best for you. A few of my favorites:
      Prescript Assist (http://store.chriskresser.com/products/prescript-assist-probiotic)
      FloraMyces (or another brand of Saccharomyces boulardii)
      MegaSporeBiotic (can only be ordered though a healthcare practitioner, but excellent probiotic)
      Primal Defense Ultra

      Hope these suggestions help!

  34. Is there an error in the article?

    From the abstract…

    “A negative correlation was observed between Faecalibacterium and the severity of depressive symptoms.”

    From the article…

    “A higher relative abundance of Faecalibacterium was associated with more severe depression.”

    • Hi Erik,

      Yes, I did make an error, and I appreciate you catching it! You are absolutely correct that it is a lower relative abundance of Faecalibacterium that is associated with more severe depressive symptoms. Thank you, I’ve made the correction and updated the article.

  35. As the gut goes, so go our lives. If the flora is in good supply and balance, the entire body/mind health is affected in beneficial ways. When the gut biome is poorly supplied, the body deteriorates rapidly. When mineral deficiencies [the main ones AND all the trace ones!] also exist [as most people have], everything rapidly falls apart.
    Good Gut biome, and repletion of All Minerals [all the trace minerals too!], is critical to good health and healing of ailments.

    • +1 for minerals. Repleting my iodine levels was the key to my anxiety. I also take zinc and eat iron-rich red meat, or I get some minor symptoms of depression + some other physical symptoms.

      I actually didn’t end up taking any pre- or probiotics, because the iodine improved my gut function a lot. Though I do eat a lot of prebiotic fiber in my food now, since I can finally tolerate it.

  36. Even these heinous atrocities can become more easily handled, and feelings of stress reduced, if one can get enough daily probiotics and broad-spectrum minerals, at the very least…that’s what we’ve found. We use other practices as well, to help us place our frame of mind/perspectives, in a better place. Doing these, helps measurably, compared to when we don’t do them.

  37. Spot on.

    I’ve written quite a bit on the topic after doing much reading/research, and am about to get the uBiome microbiota test kit to get an idea of how healthy is my own microbiome.

    This has become a hot spot for scientific inquiry, and it seems that each week another significant finding is announced about yet another health condition is influenced by those 100 trillion critters in and on us.

    I encourage readers to eat fibrous and fermented foods, and to supplement with prebiotics (like inulin) and probiotics (youghurt or good supplement). Doing this will help ensure that the beneficial bacteria thrive and dominate those that will do us harm.

    More suggestions here: http://bit.ly/1beVRl5

  38. I do believe that our gut flora (along with adequate pre- and probiotics from our diet) is critical for overall wellbeing. I am caring for a child for whom a cecostomy is being recommended. This young child already struggles with anxiety and depression. I am very worried about how daily cecostomy flushes (with saline or similar) will affect the flora biofilm in the colon – but my concern is being dismissed by allopathic GI docs. Anyone know of research that could help me weigh the pros and cons? (I can read research-jargon.) Or other thoughts? Thx.

  39. I have celiac disease and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Can anyone suggest a good pre/probiotic for individuals with autoimmune diseases? When I was making kombucha that seemed to help a lot.

    • I would highly encourage you to look at Plexus products. There are private testimonials groups on Facebook for individuals who have Hashimoto’s. In fact, I have a friend whose in remission. you can find her testimony on my FB group page, Ragan’s Be Well Plexus.

  40. Please know that I am not at all disputing a role for gut health in underlying conditions that conventional medicine often insists are solely emotional/psychological in origin and are “all in your head.”

    BUT: in terms of addressing the root cause, and not just the symptoms, I think we should also address the ugly & scary 800-pound gorilla in the room — that is, it’s possible there’s so much anxiety, depression, and other brain/mood issues in our world these days because we are much unhappier, more discontent, and far less fulfilled in and by our daily lives than many of us would like to contemplate.

    I’m not saying *everybody* is unhappy, just that there might be some difficult questions that we are disinclined to ask ourselves, because probing so deeply might reveal things we are uncomfortable with or afraid of. (Perhaps we don’t like our jobs/spouses/family/homes/cities/selves as much as we might pretend to on the outside, and something — or multiple somethings — are lacking.)

    I addressed this a while back in a (very, very long) blog post:
    http://www.tuitnutrition.com/2014/04/vitamin-j.html

    There’s also the mismatch between the go-go-go pace of the industrialized world in 2015, and the (presumed) human need for relaxation, stargazing, being quiet and still, getting fresh air, listening to the birds chirp and a breeze rustle the leaves, feeling loved and valued, etc. I talked about this in a response to a question about depression on the infamous Paleohacks site a few years ago. The perma-link to my reply isn’t working, but you can find the question here and just scroll down to my answer: https://www.paleohacks.com/depression/how-wide-spread-is-depression-17428#answer-143133

    I would imagine that for people who *are* very happy and fulfilled in their lives, and can’t imagine any reason why they might *still* nevertheless feel anxious, depressed, or some other way that interferes with daily life, then there’s probably a larger role for gut health or other unknown underlying physical/physiological cause.

    But there might be some people out there who are actually *just fine,* and feeling anxious or depressed is almost a “normal” response to the wackiness of the modern world. (I’m not saying this very well. What I’m trying to say is, I think it’s probably far more common to feel anxious, depressed, or emotionally sapped in our crazy environment, than it is to *not* feel that way.)

    • Certainly there is abundant discord and imbalance in our daily lives! It can be totally overwhelming. What goes on in our minds seems so real, like there is no way to fix it. It’s so real, it seems the very substance of reality, and therefore nothing can fix it….except there are things that can!
      However, IF one’s gut biome is good, and IF proper nutrients are being consumed in beneficial quantities, all that helps the mind/emotions/brain/hormones/nutrition, to function more optimally, therefore handle the terrible stresses more effectively.
      For instance, some research is showing that L.Rhamnosus bacteria, even alone, decreases anxiety and depression.
      Nutrients like 5-HTP are wonderful for helping balance neurotransmitters, as is Rhodiola Rosea. As are B Vitamins.
      But more basic that those, even, is getting really therapeutic levels of a broad-spectrum of chelated minerals [No oxides! No carbonate!], something which has a large list of trace minerals too [there are far more than 20]. Products such as Mt. Capra Mineral Whey, Kelp/sea veggies work great. Even the non-chelated Mezotrace mineral powder works very nicely, sprinkled into all one’s foods.
      There has been some research which shows that things like allergy/sensitivity to things like MSG and Aspartame, can be fixed by taking more Molybdenum and Selenium [Clinical Pearls book–a compendium of synopses of researches] . I’ve extrapolated that to taking a good, broad spectrum of minerals in more therapeutic amounts, to markedly diminish all my allergies, and those of clients [MCS, and other allergies, depending on total load].
      Imho, most people are drastically deficient in minerals and probiotics. . Fixing those can fix a great deal of what ails most folks, helping them better coping with whatever the world throws at us. . We’ve been doing this in our household and for clients; it works very well. . It’s like night and day, often: . One has serious emotional imbalance, takes 5-HTP and/or GABA, and suddenly, they don’t. . Or, has unrelenting knee pain, takes 2 heaping Tblsp. of Mt. Capra Mineral Whey in a liter of alkaline water, and in a few hours, measurable decreased in pain, and better ability to walk. . Or, person with severe allergic asthma, nearly ready for E.R., does avoidance measures, and starts takes 2 heaping Tblsp of Mineral Whey in a liter of alkaline water 2x daily, and wow–the symptoms reduce markedly; triggers no longer cause severe symptoms, no alupent needed.
      Indeed, there are problems which might SEEM like they are mostly due to the stresses we all must endure daily…..some more than others. . But while under that stress, and these measures relieve them so markedly….that would seem to indicate these measures DO have a major role in relief of those issues, and more.

  41. As soon as I take probiotics or probiotics I get a SIBO reoccurrence. Therefore, I stay away.
    I also feel that because I have an impaired immune system, the good bacteria, turn to bad guys.

  42. It is a shame in order to eat healthy organic food and see functional or homeopathic doctors one needs to be way above the average pay scale. It is unfortunate that most supplements and food are too expensive to afford.

  43. Amy,

    I avoid antimicrobials as much as possible, despite having Lyme Disease. The past 2 weeks I’ve had a bacterial respiratory tract infection and I do take antimicrobials, not without hesitation.

    I am on the fence about pro-biotics. Not that they don’t work. But they certainly don’t provide us with the 1000’s of strains that create the ecology of the gut pre-antibiotics. I will continue to take them, however I am eager to get passed this cold so I can get off antimicrobials and re-focus on adding to my health instead of removing from it.

  44. I completely agree with this article and have personally benefited from adding a daily probiotic to my regimen. I started using Plexus products about 10 months ago and I can not begin to tell you the changes in the way I feel physically, emotionally and mentally. I have often complained about chronic fatigue, feeling run down and crappy and most doctors have just prescribed an anti-depression/anxiety medication. While this helped temporarily, I still continued to struggle. Up until 10 months ago, I had never heard of the connection between poor gut health and the effects it can have on your entire body. I was TEXTBOOK case of poor gut health and no physician ever said anything to me about it. They always attributed it to circumstantial situations (new job, small kids, stress) or mild depression. Since I have been treating my gut health with Plexus Probio 5, I feel better than I have in YEARS.

    I am not here to pitch a product, but since some of you have asked for recommendations, I feel compelled share with you Plexus Probio5 “helps replenish internal flora to its proper state of balance in the body, which may create an intestinal system that is less likely to promote the overgrowth of ‘less healthy’ bacteria…..provides 5 strains of probiotic bacteria for supporting the immune system…..contains enzymes to aid in the breakdown of proteins and fibrous foods during digestion, contributing to a balanced intestinal system….and…may help inactivate free radicals or free radical-initiated chemical reactions in the body”

    I would be happy to send additional information about the ingredients in Probio5 and I would welcome feedback from the authors regarding this product. Again, it has changed my life and feel its a good quality probiotic that you may want to consider. http://www.bewellplexus.com

  45. So many prescription drugs also kill off gut bacteria, both good and bad.

    Metformin prescribed for blood sugar issues is one of those.

    Dr. Hyla Cass has a book called “Supplement Your Prescription” that lists several frequently prescribed drugs and the nutrients they deplete.

    She is a psychiatrist who recognized that nutrient deficiencies CAN cause psychological problems.

    • Absolutely, nutrition plays a big part in mental stability. There have been growing numbers of Psych Docs who advise nutritional changes for their patients, with good results, if and when the patients use them. That’s the tricky part.
      Imho, if a person can only grasp taking one or two things, #1 is a broad-spectrum Probiotic daily, and #2 is a broad-spectrum mineral powder [like Mt. Capra mineral whey, or Mezotrace mineral powder], or Kelp/Sea Veggies, daily. Alkalinizing the body using a simple, cheap measure like a bit of baking soda in one’s drinking water, helps too.

      • Hi Chimonger: I would like to add probiotics to my daily regimen and have been looking for one to take. There are so many available and I would appreciate any helpful suggestions you may have. Thanks

  46. I’ve being treated for SIBO by a gastroenterologist. I’m on a low FODMAP diet and taking psyllium (Konsul) and Mirilax for motility, which helps, but prebiotics like resistant starch still cause gas and bloating. And probiotics cause flu-like symptoms, weakness, and feelings of despair. I noticed a white coating on my tongue, a doctor cultured it and said it was candida albicans, now being treated with Griseofulvin and capryllic acid to deal with that. Hopeful that once the candida is in check I can add a beneficial yeast, S. boulardii, in order to keep the candida in check in the future. If anyone has further advice on how to proceed, glad to hear feedback.

  47. I’ve had a fascinating journey with depression/medication/food. I’d have to write a book here to talk about all of it, but basically I’ll just say here that changing my diet at age 51, following the principles of Mark Sisson (The Primal Blueprint), allowed me to significantly lower the amount of depression medication I was taking. I’ve tried twice (unsuccessfully) to completely wean off of medication. I eat a very clean diet but I suspect my gut is not 100% healed. I’d love to be able to afford to work with a holistic/naturopathic doctor but unfortunately I cannot. So I glean what I can from the internet, and have resigned myself to the possibility that I may never be 100% free from depression mediation.

  48. This is fascinating – as I’m currently working on my Biome and currently in “hold back” with drugs (on a tapering cortisone treatment – and triple therapy – my UC flare of 8 months is showing signs of not holding as I decrease dose – as I expected. Thus confirming this is a band-aid – giving me time to rehydrate and stabilise from the long term loss. However I am working on all levels with healing – food, stress, meds and natural therapies. The cortisol treatment is definitely affecting my mood and thoughts in an amazingly positive fashion. So this is an induced state, most likely will pass with the taper of drugs which highlights the feedback from Chris re the cortisol response. Interesting.

  49. Hello,
    Like Nathan, I would love some recommendations for where to start with good quality prebiotics and probiotcis. Thank you.

  50. This was a very interesting article. It just makes sense that the foods you eat will affect your mood. My point is that those foods affect your gut and as a result your health.

    I have a friend who´s kid has a mild level of autism and the Dr. gave him a especial diet, targeting the gut´s health with the idea of helping him with his anxiety and stress level.

    I also would like to know what prebiotics are good?

  51. Since
    Taking a high strength & quite costly probiotic my anxiety has
    gone. I strongly believe gut health is paramount to mental wellness. Now it’s time to try & re educate my family & friends who don’t believe in it.

  52. William J Walsh PhD has written a book ” Nutrient Power Heal Your Biochemistry Heal Your Brain” and has trained 170 doctors in Australia in using Nutrients to rebalance the biochemistry of individuals with mental health issues. Probiotics come into the treatment as well especially for Autism.

  53. This is a very interesting topic that I enjoy reading and learning more about.

    I too would like some more information on which prebiotics and probiotics you would suggest.

    Thanks for the great post

  54. Your article states there is evidence that probiotics caused “changes in regions of the brain crucial in emotional processing”, and “reduced psychological distress”. But thats not the same as depression.

    Has there ever been a study showing that improving gut health improved depression specifically? If no, then with all due respect, I do not think we should suggest it does.

  55. Any recommendations to go along with the article? What supplements do you like? What prebiotics are good to add? Some actionable advice would be appreciated!

  56. Wonderful article.

    Probiotics are all the rage nowadays don’t forget these bugs can make neither minerals like Ca, Mg, Zn etc. nor retinol.

    Minerals are crucial for bodily functions.

    • Matt, your absolutely right, I believe minerals are crucial. I would love to further discuss this with you. Please reply with contact info if willing.

      • Hello Patty

        The best book on this subject is The Calcium Factor by Robert Barefoot.

        I initially thought he was a quack but now I hold him in high esteem.

  57. Fascinating stuff! This post was perfectly timed since today is the release of Dr. Perlmutter’s new book “Brain Maker: The Power of Gut Microbes to Heal and Protect Your Brain–for Life”. If this book makes the best-seller list like Grain Brain did, this will do a lot to bring the brain-gut connection into the public awareness.

    • I have tried “fixing” my biome several times, but the level of depression remains unaltered.

      Maybe my biome isn’t broke or in need of fixing, and the depression has other causes.
      I have found a combo of over the counter lithium and low dosage SSRIs to be the most effective for me.

      Good luck to others.

      • Hi Beesmakehoney, try completely eliminating fructose from your diet (including sucrose). I did this and my depression cleared 95% in a little less than 2 weeks.

        It turns out about 30% of the population can’t digest fructose properly and so it messes with the gut and can cause depression in these susceptible individuals.

        • I suffer from Anxiety, Depression ,and very embarrassing Bad Breath. I have been dealing with this for 5 plus years. I have eliminated dairy, gluten, sugar, fruits. I have had pylori tests done. I have esophageal reflux. I take probiotics on a regular basis. Any suggestions

          • You could try the toungue scraper, and there are capsules/tablets you can order online or in a health food store that usually have chlorophyll in them to help the body naturally cleanse the breath. Here are a few other things to check first: In case you didn’t know, or hadn’t remembered these things, some medications cause dry mouth, and can lead to bad breath, as does smoking. I’ve heard from an allergist that sinusitis or sinus infection could cause bad breath, as could a tonsil issue. Have you checked to see if you have tonsil stones? You can be grossed out by watching videos on YouTube about these, or just avoid and stick with the medical related websites!

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