Poor Digestive Juice Production
Bile is a greenish-brown liquid primarily made of cholesterol, bile salts, and bilirubin produced by your gallbladder. Its important for digesting fats, overall digestion, and gut health. Pancreatic enzymes are secreted by your pancreas to break down fats, protein, and carbohydrates.
Problems with both bile flow and pancreatic enzyme production can result in gut inflammation. A 2018 study published in the Annals of Gastroenterology has found that poor bile flow can contribute to the development of inflammatory bowel disease . A 2018 review published in the Journal of Clinical Medical Research has found that pancreatic dysfunction may be linked to IBDs .
What Is A Leaky Gut How Can It Lead To Depression
Your gut does much more than just digest your food and extract the goodies from it. It forms a protective barrier between your insides and the external world.
But the system has a weakness. This barrier the gut lining consists of just a single layer of cells, called the epithelium. The cells of this fragile layer are held together by proteins called tight junctions.
Like doormen carefully guarding your innards, these tight junctions sift out undesirable elements and block their entrance. Under normal circumstances, troublemakers are given short shrift and expelled from the gut in the normal way. These include toxins, undigested food particles, microscopic bugs and other foreign bodies that have found their way in via your food and drink.
Unfortunately, its easy to damage the epithelium, leaving it leaky. Microscopic holes appear and the tight junctions start to loosen. For the assortment of rabble able to cross into your bloodstream, its like having an all-access pass to the rest of your body.
Mayhem ensues, and it isnt pretty.
Unsurprisingly, the symptoms of a leaky gut can show up anywhere, from the gut to the joints, from the skin to the brain.
I was proof of that. For 15 years, I lived with daily abdominal pain, often excruciating, accompanied by some extraordinary bloating and gas.
Scientists have recently added depression to that list.
Patients with MDD should be checked for leaky gut.
Nourishing Your Beneficial Gut Bacteria Will Also Reduce Anxiety And Decrease Stressishing 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. 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 axis activity . 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.
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Five Supplements To Support The Gut
A plethora of supplements relieves gut symptoms and supports gut healing. In my experience, these five supplements are helpful for almost all patients and are the basic starting point for treating gut issues. They have all been shown to improve gut function while also having a positive effect on the brain:
Prebiotics A broad term for soluble dietary fiber that passes through the small intestine largely undigested, prebiotics act as fertilizer for supporting the growth of beneficial bacteria in the colon. Prebiotic fiber is found in plant foods high in inulin and fructans, including artichokes, asparagus, chicory, beans, onions, leeks, apple skins and barley.
Patients should be encouraged to add servings of prebiotic foods to their daily diet. However, during dysbiosis treatment, patients may need more prebiotic fiber than they can comfortably eat, and some patients will never add enough prebiotic foods to their diet to make a difference in their gut health. Prebiotic supplements containing fructooligosaccharides or xylooligosaccharides are a good alternative. XOS supplements are particularly valuable because they are highly effective in small doses.
Glutamine Well-known as a critical nutrient that fuels the guts epithelial cells, glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the body. Its key for maintaining the gut mucosal lining integrity and keeping bacteria from escaping out of the gut.
Signs Of An Unhealthy Gut
“If you’re bloated or you have lots of gas, you may have a disrupted composition and function of the gut microbiome,” Cresci said, adding that the only way to know for sure is to have it measured.
Other signs of an unhealthy gut may include vomiting or stomach upset, fatigue, trouble sleeping, skin irritation, food intolerance and other symptoms. While it’s important to see a doctor to get to the root cause of your health concern and rule out other conditions, making changes to your diet or routine that may improve your gut, and your overall health, is a good first step.
But it’s also important to keep in mind that there’s no exact standard for the perfectly healthy gut microbiome, Cresci said, since everyone’s composition is so different.
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How Is The Digestive System Connected To Emotions
Your digestive system is connected to emotions physically through something called the vagus nerve. This nerve is what connects your digestion to your brain.
It is a spindly circuitry of nerves that runs from the back of your brain down to your organs and gut.
It’s constant stream of message are responsible for automatic or unconscious bodily processes like controlling your heart rate and digesting food.
It helps connect the 500 million neurons and microorganisms in your gut to the 100 billion neurons in your brain. In case youre wondering, neurons are cells in your GI tract that have constant interactions with your brain.
Studies show that people with GI disorders like Crohn’s Disease or Irritable Bowel Syndrome suffer from a dysfunction or poor responses of their nerve .
Also, stress is shown to breakdown its function to cause gut mutation in animals. The vagus nerve is the centrepiece to our emotions.
Having trouble with digestion? Read my guide to instant bloating relief.
How Do Prebiotics And Probiotics Contribute To A Healthy Gut
Your body must have the right balance of microbiota which is why professionals recommend prebiotics and probiotics to help regulate and balance the good bacteria in your GI tract. Prebiotics provide nutritional support for probiotics which are the good bacteria your gut needs.
Both prebiotics and probiotics fight against inflammation and illness while also boosting your immune system. A strong immune system helps your body stay healthy and responsive to harmful microbiota, giving you better gut bacteria, which of course, affects your mood. So, which of our products do we recommend? All of them, of course!
- Microbiome Plus promotes gastrointestinal health. Also, scFOS supports digestive activities. As a prebiotic, it helps L. reuteri NCIMB 30242 support normal GI function.
- If you have an imbalance, we recommend our Colon Cleanse. You will also benefit from digestive enzymes to help you absorb nutrients that will enhance gut health.
- Our products contain a synbiotic formulation of prebiotics and probiotics that maintain healthy bacteria within the gut.
- Our products are free of gluten, soy, and corn which supports several food-based disorders affected by unhealthy microbiota in the gut. Microbiome is also vegan-free, non-GMO, and preservative free.
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Powerful Strategies To Heal The Gut
Over the last seventy-five years, an array of serious, seemingly unrelated chronic illnessescardiovascular disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, autoimmune disorders, cancer, and brain disordershave all been steadily rising, some at astonishing rates. While were living dramatically longer lives, many of us are suffering throughout them, creating a public health crisis of historic scale.
A key principle of Functional Medicine is looking at the gut and how it impacts the entire body. All of the diseases mentioned above have a component of gut dysfunction, especially intestinal permeability, which is also known as leaky gut syndrome. When the digestive tract is inflamed and food particles are able to make their way into the bloodstream, the body goes into fight mode. This goes far beyond a stomach ache, as symptoms can occur throughout the whole body.
In todays mini-episode, Dhru dives deep into the topic of gut health with Dr. Mary Pardee and Dr. Emeran Mayer.
Find Dhrus full-length conversation with Dr. Mary Pardee here.
Find Dhrus full-length conversation with Dr. Emeran Mayer here.
Interested in joining The Dhru Purohit Podcast Facebook Community? Submit your request to join here.
This episode is brought to you by InsideTracker and Cozy Earth.
Heal Your Gut To Heal Your Brain
It might be surprising to you that your gut health and your mental health are actually quite closely related. In fact, I could even argue that they are the same thing. The science out there surrounding the mind-gut connection is growing by the day. So far weve learned that your gut produces around 95% of the serotonin in your body, along with many other neurotransmitters, many mental health issues can be linked to gut dysbiosis, and there is a second brain in your gut called the enteric nervous system that regulates mood and thinking. There is so much more to share about this research, but, today, Id like to skip right to the good part What we actually do with this information! How can you heal your gut in order to heal your brain?
So, the answer to this is actually as vast and complex as the mind-gut connection itself. However, Ive put my health coaching skills to use for you and narrowed them down to a few steps that I believe to be the most actionable. It can take a long time to fully understand this connection , but I hope this information helps you begin taking the first steps.
Its easy to think that you have to heal your gut in order to heal your brain, but I think its more accurately said that the processes of healing your gut and healing your brain are actually the same thing. One will always improve with the other. So, get out there and be good to your whole being, bacteria and all!
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How Can You Begin To Address Your Gut Health
Weve written a lot about this! Beyond seeking diagnosis and treatment for specific medical conditions, you can improve the diversity of your gut microbiome through eating specific foods, taking probiotics, exercising, getting more sleep, and finding ways to manage stress. If youre interested in learning more about the #guthealth trend that has taken the internet by storm, read our blog here. If you want to read more about diet, and in particular the importance of fiber, read our blog here.
The experienced team at Gastroenterology Health Partners is here for you if you are concerned about your gut health or have other gastroenterological issues. For more information or to schedule an appointment at one of our Kentucky or Southern Indiana offices, contact one of our practice locations near you.
Gut Microbes Make Other Chemicals That Affect The Brain
The trillions of microbes that live in your gut also make other chemicals that affect how your brain works (
They make SCFA by digesting fiber. SCFA affect brain function in a number of ways, such as reducing appetite.
One study found that consuming propionate can reduce food intake and reduce the activity in the brain related to reward from high-energy food .
Another SCFA, butyrate, and the microbes that produce it are also important for forming the barrier between the brain and the blood, which is called the blood-brain barrier .
Gut microbes also metabolize bile acids and amino acids to produce other chemicals that affect the brain .
Bile acids are chemicals made by the liver that are normally involved in absorbing dietary fats. However, they may also affect the brain.
Two studies in mice found that stress and social disorders reduce the production of bile acids by gut bacteria and alter the genes involved in their production (
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In The Second Edition Of Her Book On Irritable Bowel Syndrome Penn Psychologist Melissa Hunt Explores Advances Made In The Past Decade Her Aim Is To Offer Accessible Effective Self
On its surface, the subreddit for irritable bowel syndrome is a den of tongue-in-cheek humor its logo reimagines the classic Reddit alien gripping its gut in discomfort, scatological memes abound, and the most active members sit on the porcelain throne. Beyond the joking veneer, however, the online community shares stories of how the disorder has tinged almost every aspect of members lives with shame and discomfort. In some cases, the resulting anxiety, depression, and avoidance can be debilitating, disabling, or even life threatening.
Spend 10 minutes on the IBS subreddit, and there will be at least one person who is suicidal, posting to that list saying, I cant take this anymore. This has destroyed my life, says Melissa Hunt, a clinical psychologist in Penns Department of Psychology.
This is part of why Hunt has spent almost two decades studying and treating IBS, and why she just published the second edition of her book Reclaim Your Life from IBS, which offers a proven treatment plan for those suffering with the disorder. A year after the first edition went out of print, Hunt was finding copies selling on eBay for hundreds of dollars. In response to the demand, she wanted to provide an update that included more tools to aid in treatment as well as a review of the most recent advances in the field.
Signs You Need To Heal Your Gut
To reiterate, the popular definition of “healing” your gut involves generally supporting your gut function via healthy lifestyle habits.
Some clues that you might benefit from these lifestyle changes include abdominal discomfort and changes in bowel habits, such as constipation and diarrhea, says Dr. Bechtold. These issues are often linked to lifestyle factors, including stress, poor diet, and lack of exercise, according to a 2021 article in the Frontiers of Endocrinology. But of course, you don’t need to wait until these GI symptoms appear to start optimizing your gut. “Ideally, you’d help your gut before these symptoms develop,” notes Dr. Bechtold.
By contrast, if you do have a medical disease that affects the gut, the “gut healing” habits mentioned above won’t ease your symptoms, says Dr. Bechtold. Examples of such conditions include celiac disease, peptic ulcer disease, pancreatitis, esophagitis, Chron’s disease, and an H. pylori infection, according to Dr. Bechtold.
If you’re unsure if a medical condition is at play, keep an eye out for the following symptoms, which are known as “red flags” by doctors, according to Dr. Bechtold. “These are symptoms that indicate something more is going on in the gut that hydration and physical activity may not fix,” he explains.
- Unintentional weight loss
- Change in stool habits
- Change in stool diameter
- Blood in the stool
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Low Stomach Acid Levels
Stomach acid is critical for disinfection, killing of microbes, and optimizing digestion. When your body is unable to produce enough stomach acid and you have low stomach acid, it may cause poor digestion, gut microbiome imbalance, and gut inflammation.
According to a 2008 study published in Infection and Immunology, low stomach acid can increase your risk of bacterial pathogen overgrowth, gut infections, and, consequently, gut inflammation .
Gut Brain Connection Anxiety
Anxiety impacts the gut brain connection by sending singles down the vagus nerve into the gut. This messes with the balance of your gut flora, making you feel awful and ill.
Stress also directly affects movements and contractions in your gut and GI tract.
Given the systems are interlinked, it makes sense that you get butterflies before a presentation. Or in my case, have to go to the bathroom before races.
Your gut works with your psychology to influence these movements.
Interestingly, people with GI conditions like crohns or colitis are more sensitive to pain. This is because their systems are hyper-aware of all signals coming from their gut.
In other words, stress can make your pain feel worse.
The good news is that you can treat GI conditions and improve your well being by using techniques for anxiety and depression.
The gut brain axis can help us rebuild our GI tract. It starts with managing your stress.
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Get Moving To Balance Stress
Moderate exercise is one of the most effective ways to manage stress and maintain healthy digestion. Physical activity relieves tension, improves blood flow, and stimulates the release of endorphins from the brain, which improve your mood and reduce the impacts of stress. Practices like tai chi and yoga that coordinate the breath with movement can be especially effective at reducing the state of constant hyperarousal, which is detrimental to digestion.
Probiotics Prebiotics And The Gut
Gut bacteria affect brain health, so changing your gut bacteria may improve your brain health.
Probiotics are live bacteria that impart health benefits if eaten. However, not all probiotics are the same.
Probiotics that affect the brain are often referred to as psychobiotics (
One small study of people with irritable bowel syndrome and mild-to-moderate anxiety or depression found that taking a probiotic called Bifidobacterium longum NCC3001 for six weeks significantly improved symptoms .
Prebiotics, which are typically fibers that are fermented by your gut bacteria, may also affect brain health.
One study found that taking a prebiotic called galactooligosaccharides for three weeks significantly reduced the amount of stress hormone in the body, called cortisol .
Probiotics that affect the brain are also called psychobiotics. Both probiotics and prebiotics have been shown to reduce levels of anxiety, stress and depression.
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