New studies are showing that symptoms of mental disorders may improve with proper control of the bacterial population in your GI tract. Known as the Gut-Brain Axis, proper balance is critical and can obtained through diet and proper supplementation of prebiotics and probiotics. Awareness of the FUT2 gene also plays a critical role in gut health and variants or SNP’s can be accommodated as well.
What is your microbiome? It is the diverse population of good and bad bacteria that live in your gut and, proper balance is critical to a healthy gut. The microbiome plays a very important role for your entire body health from inflammation all the way up to the function of your neurological function. An unhealthy microbiome can manifest itself in many different ways throughout your body but, for the purposes of this article, the focus is on the brain. The bottom line is the good must outweigh the bad and the good bacteria must be given the right environment to thrive.
Your Microbiome and Your Brain
Recent findings in the study of neuropsychology are showing that alterations in the gut microbiome may be associated with depression and even bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. What they are finding is that when the healthy, normal balance of bacteria becomes disrupted or imbalanced, the immune system responds by overreacting and inflames the GI tract causing problems in your brain and body. This is referred to as the gut-brain axis.
The Gut-Brain Axis
Proper functioning connection between the gut and the brain can be disrupted at any time. Infections that occurred early in life could have long term effects on the mucosal lining in the GI tract. Changes can also occur through poor diet, antibiotic use and cancer treatments. As well, variants on the FUT2 gene can lead to decreased Vitamin B12 absorption which ultimately promotes the growth of deleterious bacteria. Once the microbiome gets thrown off balance and the “bad bacteria” are able to overtake the good, inflammation, “leaky gut” (intestinal permeability) and an overgrowth of bad bacteria can occur. All of this can affect many areas of your life including mental health! Brain fog, poor concentration, memory issues, depression, anxiety are common with gut imbalance. The good news is this can be remedied by getting your gut into balance with the proper prebiotics, probiotics and learning what your FUT2 gene is doing.
Prebiotics do not contain live bacteria, they are ingestible fibers that ferment in the GI tract. Once fermented the probiotic bacteria go to work consuming them and converting it all to gut healthy substances. There are many foods rich in prebiotics such as artichokes, cabbage, legumes, oats, leeks, onions and chicory. I’m a big believer in supplementation of prebiotic whole foods and that’ll be discussed later in this article.
Probiotics contain live bacteria that work in conjunction with the probiotic fiber as written above. There are many foods that are rich in probiotics and, as they are filled with live bacteria they are very heat sensitive. Foods include sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, apple cider vinegar, miso, yogurt, kefir and cottage cheese. Probiotics can also be supplemented but it can be complicated and we’ll talk about that further in the article.
The FUT2 Gene
This is an interesting gene because it not only controls how we absorb and use Vitamin B12 but as a consequence of variants in the gene it will also affect our gut health and mental health. In fact, individuals with FUT2 variants or SNP’s can suffer from anxiety, depression and mitochondrial dysfunction.
FUT2 is important for producing the pre-biotic 2′-fucosyllactose (2′-FL). We discussed the foods that can give us prebiotics but we also need a proper functioning 2′-FL for the health producing bacteria Bifobacteria. FUT2 in low levels because of gene SNP’s can also lead to decreased B12 levels, leading to anemia, increased homocysteine levels and impaired immune system. This in turn will inhibit prebiotic Bifobacteria production and will promote the growth of deleterious bacteria and hence, depression and anxiety. If you have inhibited Bifobacteria production, you can eat all the prebiotic foods but it may not be enough to overcome the invasion of the bad bacteria.
You can see how important it is to know what is happening genetically as gut health, inflammation, vitamin absorption or deficiency are all tied together, and if you only deal with one issue at a time it may not be helping you!
To Supplement or Not To Supplement
Probiotics can be very difficult to supplement with properly and your healthcare provider is the best place to start. There are many bacterial species and combinations that can be used effectively but, some bacteria may not be what you need or want. The wrong strain could interfere with current medications or other aspects of your health.
As prebiotics are commonly found in whole food ingredients getting the right supplement as a dried whole food is critical. Also, if the prebiotic rich foods aren’t something you’ll want to eat everyday a whole food supplement will be the most benefit.
FUT2 gene supplementation is easy to do, once you know what you’re dealing with genetically. Find out what your body is doing at a cellular level and you’ll be amazed how one function can affect the other. There are 18 genetic SNP’s that are actionable by proper vitamins, minerals and whole food supplements and the impact on the body varies from person to person. I have seen some amazing things from customers that got tired of struggling with depression and anxiety and, once their body has the proper vitamins, minerals and prebiotics from whole foods it’s amazing how much better they feel. Does a supplement custom tailored to your profile sound like it makes sense? Yes, it absolutely does because then your body systems can work together to perform the way it should!
There is so much to the Gut-Brain Axis
Just a few years ago, there was very little correlation between the gut and mental health in mainstream medicine and now it is being embraced as a non-prescription way to help those that suffer with mental illness. The
term Gut-Brain Axis, was considered ridiculous by mainstream medicine not so long ago. Now it is studied extensively and is finally offering people relief.
As I said earlier, it is so important that we look at our body as a whole with systems and mechanisms that work together. Think of it like a vehicle, if you have bad spark plugs (FUT2 variants), changing the gas to premium (adding prebiotics and probiotics) isn’t going to fix the spark plug problem (growth of bad bacteria). It all fits together so beautifully when it is functioning optimally. Fix the spark plugs WITH the gas you put in and getting the best from your physical and mental health is doable! There is hope!!!!
Nothing makes me happier than seeing testimonials from those that have had change, tremendous change in some cases. I’m excited in fact, to share it. Would you like to know more about custom made supplements tailored to your genetic needs? Would you like to know about the decades of research that has gone into it? I love helping and I’m easy to reach through commenting or, head back to the home page for my contact information. Until then, take care.
In good health, Sydney