Good Food Good Mood? Can your gut be affecting your mental health?

Do you suffer from IBS? Over half of the Australian population suffer from problems with their gut. From diarrhoea to constipation, bloating to pain, and even reflux, are all signs and symptoms of IBS – gastrointestinal dysbiosis (imbalance).

It has been no secret to most that our diet and lifestyle play an important role in our overall health, everything from energy, immunity, mental cognition and physical performance right up to disease prevention and cure. But fascinatingly it is now understood that our gut and its state of health can also directly affect not only our overall health but our mood and even be the underlying link to several mental health conditions including anxiety and depression, prevalent in society today.

How does your gut health link to mental health?

The gut microbiota or microbiome is a complex community of microorganisms that live within your gastrointestinal tracts.  The communication process between this community and the central nervous system is known as the ‘gut brain axis’.

Microbiota contribute to your body’s natural processes and when balanced with good ratios of beneficial microbiome this has a positive effect on your overall health. But when it becomes imbalanced, problems can start to arise.

Stress, antibiotics, medications, refined foods/oils, increased sugar or food additive intake and alcohol can all destroy our levels of beneficial microbiome, leading to dysbiosis (imbalance).

Maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle plays a crucial role in increasing natural levels of good microbiome and keeping them well fed, that’s right they like to eat all the food that is good for us!

But what are some underlying causes of gut dysbiosis?

Parasitic infections or overgrowths can also be an underlying cause of gut problems. Intestinal bacteria, worm parasites and intracellular bacteria living within host cells can cause infection and overgrowths. This directly influences our immune function and influences underlying risk factors to mental health conditions. For example, infection with the parasite Toxoplasma gondiiis a risk factor for the development of schizophrenia and a contributor to dysbiosis and altered immune reactivity. These infections can be corrected via a Nutritionist using simple hydrogen methane breath testing or CDSA stool analysis, and on positive diagnosis treatment and eradication prescribed using various antimicrobial treatments.

Other underlying issues that may contribute to your mental health.

Along with the gut dysbiosis, gene mutations like Pyroluria can play a role in increasing risk factors for mental health conditions.

Pyroluria is a mutation which creates vitamin deficiencies such as B6 and directly affects the nervous system neurotransmitter synthesis and transmission. It is strongly associated with neurological conditions including bi-polar, down syndrome, ADHD, alcoholism, anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, aphasia, involuntary muscle twitching and abnormal motor function.

Gastrointestinal analysis for potential underlying pathogens along with Pyroluria  can be easily tested and treated via a Nutritionist.

References:

NIH (2017) A modified Mediterranean dietary intervention for adults with major depression: Dietary protocol and feasibility data from the SMILES trial. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28424045.

NIH (2016). B Vitamins and the Brain: Mechanisms, Dose and Efficacy—A Review. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4772032/.

NIH (2017) Gut microbiota’s effect on mental health: The gut-brain axis. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5641835/.

McGinnis, MD: Urinary Pyrrole (Mauve Factor): Metric for Oxidative Stress in Behavioral Disorders

NIH (2018) The Gut Microbiome and Mental Health: Implications for Anxiety- and Trauma-Related Disorders. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28767318.