Giving importance to our own microbiome is crucial when supporting healthy emotional function. And it is vital if we are to understand why depression is so prevalent in modern societies. Psychiatric diseases are not just diseases of the brain, but disorders of the entire system including our gut bacteria. It is our lifestyle choices that support the growth of new neurons. It all comes down to what, how and how often we eat, move rest and relax.
David came to see me because he had been suffering from acid reflux for a couple of years and was taking antacids (proton pump inhibitors). He also was very concerned about his skin which was red and itchy on his chest. He had a BMI of 31 which put him in the overweight category and his weight was centered around his midriff. His visceral fat was at level 13.5, anything below level 9 considered healthy. Through his anamnesis I discovered he was also suffering from low mood.
David was keen to start with an exercise programme as he had been very fit in the past. Exercise increases the production of new brain cells and increases the size of the hippocampus that improves memory. We started to work on his gut health straight away after a stool analysis revealed gut dysbiosis. Certain non-beneficial bacteria in the gut can trigger inflammation. The gut is lined with immune cells that communicate with immune cells in the skin so if the gut is not happy neither is the skin. We initially boosted intake of plant foods to increase prebiotic fibres to create a favourable gut microbiome. A nerve growth factor called brain-derived neurotrophic factor(BDNF) is increased through exercise and also prebiotic fibres from plant foods from organic sources. Glyphosate in Roundup weed killer is an antibiotic widely distributed as a pesticide. It is a mitochondrial and gut bacteria toxin that affects gut bacteria and energy levels.
We also added in supplement to support digestion and I asked David to speak to his doctor about reducing antacids. They are sticking plasters that create more damage than they fix. This is because they create a loss of microbial species and reduced diversity in the gut which in turn results in more frequent diarrhea and an increased risk of heart attack and dementia. I also talked to David about cutting out chewing gum which he used before meeting clients at work. Artificial sweeteners in food products, drinks and gum contain aspartame which destroys microbial diversity and increase the risk of dementia and stroke.
After three months David’s mood started to increase. He had implemented an exercise regime in the gym and had joined a cycling group. As 90% of the serotonin is produced in the gut this will influence mood and gastrointestinal activity. The lifestyle measures we had implemented as well as his supplement protocol with the essential fatty acid omega 3 had reduced the inflammation on his chest. His visceral fat had down to level 11 and he was very happy with his improvement.