Mental health is a complex issue. It’s incredibly difficult to identify or pinpoint specific reasons why, for example, we get depressed or our children develop autism.
Sometimes we feel helpless in the face of our own suffering or watching the daily mental decline of a loved one with Alzheimer’s.
I’m not saying that the state of our gut is THE cause of mental health issues. What I’m saying is that there’s mounting evidence that it may be a MUCH bigger factor than we could ever have imagined.
The fact is that gut health is not yet on most people’s radar as a factor at all. But what if we could radically improve our chances of overcoming mental health issues by fixing our gut?
Brain diseases have reached epidemic levels in recent decades. There has been an explosion in the number of children developing autism and ADHD. Depression and anxiety are the most common mental health issues for adults, affecting around 10% of people in the UK and USA in any given year.
Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease are on the rise in our elderly population as we live longer (but not healthier) lives.
Stunning Scientific Developments
It’s only in the last decade or so that the frontiers of science have expanded enough to discover that our microbiome plays a huge role in these conditions. Take a look at: The Gut-Brain Connection.
‘Microbiome’ is the scientific name for the bacteria that live inside us. We used to think they were passengers, just along for the ride, but we now know that they play a huge role in how our body functions, from our digestive system to our metabolism, our immune system and brain health.
Our microbiome is in constant communication with our brain via the vagus nerve that runs deep down into our gut. These friendly critters are also having a constant conversation with our immune system, helping it to determine friend from foe.
Another strange but crucial thing the microbiome does is help the immune system to find the correct level of response to threats. I go into this in more detail here: Supercharge your body to crush autoimmune conditions.
One thing that happens when the microbiome gets out of balance – meaning too many nasty bacteria and not enough good ones – is that inflammation spreads throughout the body and hangs around.
I explain more about the mechanism here: Inflammation – Putting out the fire.
Inflammation is an important element of many chronic diseases including obesity, heart disease and autoimmune conditions. It is also now thought to be major factor in brain diseases.
Another factor at play is leaky gut. Again this happens when the balance of good and bad bacteria swings in favour of the baddies.
Our gut lining becomes more gappy than it should be, enabling stuff to pass from the gut into the body that doesn’t belong there. This can happen, for example, to partially digested proteins from that piece of bread you ate earlier.
Leaky gut also enables toxins produced by bad bacteria to pass into the body. These toxins can then potentially pass through the brain’s protective membrane, known as the blood-brain barrier. The result is that our delicate brain chemistry gets a spanner in the works.
Recent studies have shown that the blood-brain barrier can also become more gappy, just like leaky gut!
One particularly nasty toxin is known as LPS, short for lipopolysaccharide, and it’s produced by certain bacteria. In animal studies LPS produces instant inflammation and Alzheimers-type symptoms!
In humans it’s believed to trigger flareups of autoimmune conditions like Multiple Sclerosis and it’s also linked with obesity and brain disease, again because of the inflammation it provokes.
Our friendly bacteria, on the other hand, produce important and helpful brain chemicals like neurotransmitters serotonin, glutamate and GABA. They also produce important vitamins such as B12, low levels of which are involved in depression and dementia.
What can we do about all this? I recommend seven easy steps that will transform the health of your microbiome by tipping the balance back in favour of the good guys.
Why not give yourself or your loved ones the best possible odds of overcoming or completely avoiding potentially life ruining brain diseases?
- Eat more unprocessed, homemade food and eat less junk food.
- In particular eat less refined carbs like white bread, pasta, pastries, cereal, as the bad bacteria LOVE these.
- Take a good quality probiotic for at least 3-6 months.
- Have a little live, fermented food or drink – like yoghurt, sauerkraut or kombucha – with every meal.
- Don’t go crazy on the antibiotics! Be guided by your doctor, but you don’t need them as much as you think. Save them for real emergencies and instead try a natural antibiotic.
- Lifestyle – make at least one change today out of this list:
- Exercise consistently, light or heavy intensity, both help our friendly gut bugs.
- Drink less alcohol!
- Be less stressed!
Also consider one-on-one coaching with Naomi or Paige, our two highly qualified and highly experienced gut-health coaches. There’s nothing like coaching to massively accelerate your progress and achieve the results you dream about! Go ahead and read about how our coaching works here.