Human Stool samples are being poked and dug deep into, by leading researchers, to make futuristic drugs for depression and anxiety. Shit! Quite literally…no kidding..in the gut, houses more microbes than our own body’s cells? Collectively our gut microbes weigh about 2 kgs (in comparison…our human brain weighs only 1.4kgs). Did you even realize that these can influence our thoughts and bodies a lot more than any other organ (including our brain)? In fact long before microbes were discovered, some philosophers and physicians argued that the brain and gut were partners in shaping human behavior. The ancient Greeks, for example, believed mental disorders arose when the digestive tract produced too much black bile.
Psychobiomes are the bacteria thriving in your gut (Gut Microbes), which can control how you think…what you think and all that you think…
Gut microbes secrete messenger molecules that hop into your blood and take a ride to the brain. Some trigger the vagus nerve, (runs from the brain to abdomen) quite like keys in a remote control…these are the moments when you feel that sudden tug and crunch in your tummy…and you thought they were butterflies in your tummy?!!!
Gut microbes trigger cells in the gut lining, which sends hormones throughout the body. They regulate digestion, control insulin production and also release serotonin. Which means you being able to handle the roadside pani puri or you pacing up and down after enjoying even a simple ‘meen kozhlambu’ oozing with freshness and amma’s love could be the decision of these tiny powerful ‘Psychobiomes.’ If you have spent a terrible sleepless night tossing and turning feeling uneasy…it could be the wrong bacteria having taken over your ‘Gut Fort’
Gut microbes even influence immune cells, and the wrong type can cause inflammation, which can affect the brain – in the wrong way. So…its not just the Vit C that you have been popping in…it is in fact that Probiotic (if at all…any) that you have consumed…that has a bigger say in…if you would be picking up a cold or a flu this season.
Gut bacteria can make and use nutrients and other molecules in ways the human body can’t. The best of food, gold foil studded dessert or the top dollar priced supplements could just end up as expensive faeces in your toilet the next morning (hopefully the next morning), if it isn’t for the right kind of super powerful studs of Gut Microbes who work on identifying and absorbing the valuable nutrients from the gut. The wrong kind?…well they just dump the good stuff and begin feasting on your gut.
With more than 20 million genes among them, (compared to our measly 20,000 genes) they can even influence us genetically. It is not a surprise that I have noticed how most patients’ share identical health charts with their mother and inherit digestive disorders, skin problems, low immunity and even bronchial issues – wheezing and asthma. Studies link imbalance in gut microbes to conditions as diverse as autism, anxiety, and even Alzheimer’s.
In my practice I have always noticed a striking connection between the gut and brain disorders. For instance, clients who come to me with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) are also slightly less enthusiastic about life in general or are marginally depressed. Those on the autism spectrum tend to have digestive problems, while people with Parkinson’s are prone to constipation. Conversely people taking antibiotics for a prolonged period of time begin showing signs and symptoms of depression.
In fact when rats where fed faecal transplants of humans with mental disorders like Depression or Parkinson’s, they began developing the symptoms of the disease. While the same rats when fed the faecal transplants of health individuals began miraculously developing a cure.
Researchers also found that all those battling with depression have some very specific strains of essential bacteria missing in their gut – as a commonality.
With all that proof that your gut and your brain are intimately connected, it surprises me, why probiotics isn’t yet a mainstream protocol, post an antibiotic course. Even antiviral or antifungal drugs have fewer debilitating effects on the gut bacteria…but the Antibiotics, while extremely essential, (whenever unavoidable), does one hell of a number on the gut environment.
Now with all that strong scientific evidence gawking at us, one would assume that, making the decision to want to take care of one’s gut health would be the primary focus. Well, I see everyday in my office, requiring to convince clients that an unhealthy gut is actually the root cause for most of their health concerns be it skin, or infertility or diabetes. Well things have gotten a whole lot easier now…my 45min consultations have reduced to 30mins ones…Thanks to social media and Google…there is a lot of light shone on the Gut…receiving its long-deserved glory.
For those of you who are already convinced, here’s how you can take care of your gut health:
Step 1: Completely stop dumping garbage in your gut. refined flour and refined sugar are primary culprits.
Step 2: Once a year get a colon cleanse done. No…enemas don’t count. They cannot clean up the dry dehydrated putrid faecal matter. The most elegant way to clean up the gut lining is a Colon Hydro Therapy. It is gentle and effective. No…a single session of Colon Hydro Therapy cannot clean an entire colon…a minimum of 3-5 colonics is necessary once a year to maintain gut health.
Step 3: Make sure you include probiotics or pre probiotics as part of your lifestyle. No…your 1 cup of yogurt a day doesn’t count…especially because the quality of bacteria in the yogurt is completely based on the gut microbes of the cow…again dependant on what the cow eats…plus the yogurt doesn’t have the diversity of bacteria required. If you have taken a course of antibiotics, make sure you flush out the unwanted…post recovery and replenish your gut with valuable bacteria.
Step 4: As much as your gut influences your brain…your thoughts influence your gut…harboured anger, irritation, hatred, guilt, disappointment, anxiety and fear kill the most valuable bacteria in your gut. Let them go…for the sake of your ‘Gut – Feeling.’
Your ability to cope with challenges life throws your way is greatly affected by the quality of Gut Microbes you harbour. The next time you hear somebody say…it takes Guts…you know…they quite literally meant it…
The author of this article Dr. Ashmita Boopathy Moturi, is a Doctor of Naturopathy, a PhD. in Psychology and has completed her Masters in Medical Engineering. She is the founder of NineO2 Detox Center and the Director of Wishing Well Center for Integrative Medicine.