Gut Health and Mood
It is amazing how closely mood is related to gastrointestinal health. Have you ever wondered why we feel our moods in our stomach? 95% of the serotonin in our bodies is located in our gut.
The GI system (from esophagus to anus) is often referred to as the 2nd brain, aka the enteric nervous system. The enteric nervous system uses 30 different neurotransmitters, just like the brain.
The 2nd brain is filled with important neurotransmitters and it does much more than merely handle digestion. The 2nd brain in our GI system has a huge connection with our primary brain and can partly determine our mental state. It plays key roles in certain diseases throughout the body.
Gut bacteria both produce and respond to the same neurotransmitters such as GABA, serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine, acetylcholine and melatonin. The brain uses these neurotransmitters to regulate mood and cognition. Research has related pathogenic (bad) bacteria to increase in anxiety. Beneficial bacteria has been shown to decrease anxiety and make mice/rodents more “bold”.
The brain can also influence gut bacteria. Even mild stress can off-set the microbial balance in the gut, making the host more vulnerable to infectious disease. Numerous studies have shown that psychological stress suppresses beneficial bacteria.
Stress-induced changes to the microbiome may affect the brain and behavior. For example, the stress the person is feeling can decrease the beneficial bacteria in the gut and increase inflammation (immune system cells called cytokines). These inflammatory molecules called cytokines can disrupt brain neurochemistry and make people more vulnerable to anxiety and depression.
MORE than 1/2, if not more, of the people who are diagnosed with GI imbalances also suffer from mood disorders such as anxiety and depression. GI imbalances such as Crohn’s, IBS and Ulcerative Colitis are examples.
What are some steps I can take toward improving my mood through gut health?
Completing a few specialty laboratory evaluations are key! Because each person has varied gut flora, food intolerances, health histories, and genetic histories, each person must be evaluated as an individual.
Testing offered at RenŪ Progressive Medicine for evaluation of “GUT-BRAIN” connection:
- Neurotransmitter testing: take home urine test that evaluates neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine and GABA.
- GI Health panels and comprehensive stool testing
- Basic and comprehensive food intolerance testing
- Comprehensive thyroid panels
- More options are available
Each practitioner will evaluate each patient with a comprehensive health history and physical exam in order to determine what specialized testing and treatment plan would best fit him/her.
GI Imbalance has been related to numerous other health issues besides mood imbalances. These include but are not limited to the following:
- Autoimmune diseases (MS, Lupus, Rheumatoid arthritis, Hashimoto’s)
- Weight gain and inability to lose weight
- Adrenal fatigue
- Thyroid imbalance and decreased metabolism
- And many more