Health and Disease, Lifestyle, Uncategorized

Bacteria in Your Gut Influences Your Mind

Health and Wellness Associates
EHS Telehealth

Bacteria in Your Gut Influences Your Mind

gut

 

An estimated 40 million adults (18 and older) or 18 percent of the population endorse symptoms of anxiety (not to mention one out of eight children). Treatment of anxiety accounts for one-third of the $148 billion dollars spent annually on mental illnesses in America.

In other words, we spend $42 billion a year on treatment of anxiety disorders in America. Women are 60 percent more likely to develop an anxiety disorder than our male counterparts. These numbers are terrifying to me as a clinician, a woman and a mother.

 

The symbiotic relationship between our gut health and how we feel is a hot topic of discussion and research. Scientists, physicians, and mental health practitioners are increasingly aware of the important relationship between the balance of “critters” in our gut and how we experience our brain, mood and emotions. So, before we begin to discuss what we can do to optimize this important relationship, let’s explore the underlying processes.

 

From a holistic vantage point our gut is known as the “second brain” and there are structural/anatomical reasons for this reference. The “second brain,” known scientifically as the enteric nervous system, consists of sheaths of neurons located in the walls of our gut. We refer to these sheaths as the vagus nerve and it runs from our esophagus to our anus, roughly nine meters long.

 

Did you know…?

 

The bacteria, fungi and viruses that make up your body’s microflora outnumber your body’s cells by 10 to 1.

 

95 percent of the body’s serotonin supply is found in our bowels.

 

The vagus nerve contains 100 million neurons, which is more neurons than the spinal cord or peripheral nervous system hold.

 

There are over 100 trillion bacterial cells contained within the gut.

 

Our gut sends far more information to our brain than the other way around.

 

When the precarious balance of bacteria in our gut becomes disturbed we often experience symptoms associated with Irritable Bowel Syndrome and other gastrointestinal related disorders. These symptoms are likely to start out as complaints of bloating, gas, constipation or diarrhea.

 

These symptoms are often indicators of “leaky gut syndrome” where our gut wall becomes permeable and particles of food start to escape from the digestive and GI tract. When this occurs the domino effect of issues becomes inevitable and thus begins the cascading symptom patterns that plague tens of millions of Americans struggling with GI related disorders.

 

Due to the interconnectedness of our brain and enteric nervous system, via the vagus nerve, once our gut bacteria is out of whack, we are vulnerable to a pattern of emotional discomfort, usually marked by increasing episodes of anxiety and depression.

 

How does our gut bacteria become so unbalanced? Here are a few of the many ways in which we accidentally (and sometimes unavoidably) contribute to this pattern of disturbance:

 

Excessive and unmanaged stress

 

Too much use of antibiotics

 

Food Allergies

 

Prolonged use of steroids

 

Intestinal infections

 

High sugar; low fiber diet (in other words, standard American diet)

 

Regular consumption of alcohol

 

 

 

If you are reading this blog and you find yourself relating to this content, I encourage you to seek out professional help, contact us,  to better understand what these symptoms mean for your unique constitution. Taking the right type of probiotic to help restore balance in the micro flora in your gut is one step, but often with more advanced GI issues and more acute anxiety-based symptoms there is a need to first heal the permeability of the gut wall before adding in probiotics.

 

There is a growing body of research that is exploring strain specific probiotics to help mitigate acute symptoms of anxiety. For example, in clinical trials involving the study of mice, Bifidobacterium longum and Lactobacillus Rhamnosus have shown to help normalize anxiety-like behavior. Lactobacillus appears to work on the GABA receptors, an inhibitory neurotransmitter involved in the regulation of acute anxiety. GABA is the receptor influenced when you take a benzodiazepine such as Xanax or Ativan.

 

There is a bourgeoning area of interest and research exploring use of probiotics to treat a wide variety of mental illnesses. Pharmaceutical companies are attempting to create a new line of psychiatric medications referred to as Psychobiotics, but this field of research is still in its infancy.

 

So, that being said, there is a lot we can do right from the comfort of our own home to start the process of realigning the balance of our gut flora. As you can imagine, most of it involves cleaning up our diet, being mindful of the relationship between food and mood, and exploring our habits and patterns. Below are action steps you can take in an effort to begin the process of healing your gut, mind and brain:

 

It generally takes a minimum of 90 days for these suggestions to be maximally effective:

 

Eliminate sugars: The “fake” sugars. We are not talking about eliminating whole fruits. Rather, cutting out the baked goods, cookies, ice cream, and store bought sugary products that wreak havoc on the bacteria in our gut and lead to cyclical patterns of emotional and physical cravings.

 

Eliminate all simple starches and reduce intake of even complex starches.

 

Add in fermented and living foods. Please try to avoid store bought yogurts even though they are considered fermented.

These products are loaded with sugars and often end up exacerbating imbalance.

 

Consider having the vast majority of your diet be plant-based foods. Generally speaking, eat as many veggies as you want in any form you want. Avoid use of store bought dressings etc., which are loaded with sugar and preservatives. If your GI tract is especially damaged, consider cooking all your veggies before consumption.

 

Consume foods high in Omega-3 fatty acids (walnuts, salmon, flax, some types of squash, etc.).

 

Aim to consume local and organic sources of animal protein. Doing so will reduce your ingesting unwanted antibiotics and feed-based chemicals.

 

WARNING!   Contact us, or a knowledgeable healthcare provider on the steps to take properly!

Doing so incorrectly will cause more harm to your system.  If your doctor does not know the correct steps for you, RUN!

 

Discuss with your practitioner if the use of a probiotic or prebiotic will benefit your unique situation. A probiotic introduces specific strains of good bacteria, while a prebiotic introduces carbohydrates that serve as food the bacteria already present in your gut.

 

Exercise. Again, more days than not. Enough to sweat. The goal is to find joy in it. But if you hate it, that’s okay. Do it anyway.

 

Drink mostly water.

 

Work with a skilled psychologist or mental health professional to metabolize past trauma, identify faulty thought patterns, and implement mindfulness-based skills to better manage your central nervous system.

 

Implement a daily mindfulness/meditation practice. The goal is observed your mind, not to clear it or control your thoughts. Simple observation and balanced breathing. This is a restful and restorative way to calm the central nervous system and recalibrate the vagus nerve.

 

Exploring the relationship between our mood and our gut bacteria reveals an interconnected relationship between the mind, brain, and body, via the enteric nervous system and vagus nerve. This relationship is the foundation of why it is critical to address your emotional discomfort from a holistic and integrated approach to your wellness.

 

The good news is that because we now know and understand that there is a connection between the mind and body, we have the knowledge and tools to make immediate changes that will yield significant results in how we feel. The better we understand and participate in our own sense of wellness and empowerment the more likely we are to embark on change that starts from within.

 

Health and Wellness Associates

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P Carrothers

Dir Personalized Healthcare

healthwellnesssassociates@gmail.com

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Diets and Weight Loss, Foods, Health and Disease, Uncategorized

Cooking with MCT Oil

Health and Wellness Associates
EHS Telehealth

 

Cooking with MCT Oil

mayo

How to Use MCT Oil in Recipes

Some people are firm believers in taking MCT oil daily just like a supplement, straight from the spoon or mixed into drinks. MCT oil has no taste or smell, so this is an option if you’re really looking to increase your intake quickly. But be careful — a little goes a long way. People should start off with half a teaspoon and work their way up to one tablespoon.

 

How can you use MCT oil creatively at home without needing to simply drink “Bulletproof coffee” every morning? Some clever ways to get more MCT oil into your diet include:

 

Making homemade mayonnaise in a blender (using MCT oil, an egg yolk, extra virgin olive oil, lime juice and salt)

Whisking together a salad dressing (using MCT oil, raw honey, Dijon mustard and your favorite herbs)

Adding some MCT oil to smoothies, shakes or yogurt (which stabilizes your blood sugar since it helps slow down the rate that glucose and fructose sugar molecules are absorbed)

Using MCT oil in homemade baked goods instead of coconut oil (sub out about 1/3 of the coconut oil for MCT oil instead)

Don’t forget that just like with coconut oil being used for your hair, MCT oil is great for your skin and hair. MCT oil can be used in homemade teeth whitening treatments, moisturizer, lip balm, sunscreen, shaving cream, conditioner, facial masks, salt scrubs and essential oil blends.

 

Final Thoughts

The difference between MCT oil and coconut oil is that MCT oil is more concentrated and contains different proportions of MCTs. While coconut oil certainly has MCTs in it, concentrated MCT oil is almost entirely MCTs.

Scientifically proven benefits of MCT oil include its ability to help with weight loss or maintenance, heart health protection, improved energy levels and mood, and digestion and nutrient absorption support. In addition, MCT oil has antibacerial, antiviral and antifungal properties, and it can withstand high-heat cooking.

Health and Wellness Associates

Archived

Dir P Carrothers

Dir Personalized Healthcare

Preventative and Restorative Medicine

312-972-9355

HealthWellnessAssociates@gmail.com

https://www.facebook.com/HealthAndWellnessAssociates/

Health and Disease, Uncategorized

Have You Had Mono?

Did you have Mononucleosis?

 

mono

Millions of young Americans have lived through the fatigue and discomfort of mononucleosis.

Now, new research suggests, but doesn’t prove, that the virus that causes the illness may be linked to an increased risk for seven other serious immune-system diseases.

Those diseases include lupus; multiple sclerosis; rheumatoid arthritis; juvenile idiopathic arthritis; inflammatory bowel disease; celiac disease, crohns disease and type 1 diabetes.

“Mono” is a contagious illness that occurs most often in teens and young adults. It’s caused by the Epstein-Barr virus, one of the most common human viruses.

“Epstein-Barr virus infects over 90 percent of adults, and the infection lasts for a lifetime,” said study lead author Dr. John Harley.

“The new results are building a strong case that this virus is also involved in causing a number of autoimmune diseases for at least some patients,” added Harley. He is director of the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Center for Autoimmune Genomics and Etiology.

“It is the kind of circumstantial evidence that is comparable to a smoking gun,” he added.

And those seven diseases affect roughly 8 million Americans, Harley and his colleagues said.

However, one expert said people who have had mono shouldn’t panic.

The findings “should not be a cause for alarm,” said Dr. David Pisetsky, a professor of medicine at the Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, N.C.

“In modern life everyone has been exposed and infected with Epstein-Barr,” he noted. “And if 99 percent of people have been exposed to Epstein-Barr, and only 0.1 percent have lupus, it means there really must be other factors at play that affect risk,” Pisetsky explained.

“I really don’t think it’s a reason for undue concern,” he added. Pisetsky is also on the scientific advisory board for the Lupus Research Alliance.

Harley’s in-depth genetic analysis revealed that at the cellular level, the Epstein-Barr virus shares a number of abnormal viral on-off switches (“transcription factors”) in common with those seven other illnesses.

Those transcription factors are meant to move along the human genome (DNA roadmap), jumpstarting cells into performing necessary tasks.

But the abnormal switches found in Epstein-Barr hijack this process. First, they bind to a specific protein — known as EBNA2. Then they move about the genome in search of disease trigger points. Once docked at a respective trigger point, the risk for that particular disease goes up, the new research suggests.

Harley said he and other scientists will continue to examine additional factors that likely also contribute to autoimmune risk. Autoimmune diseases occur when your immune system mistakenly attacks your body.

 

 

As the cause of mononucleosis, Epstein-Barr is typically transmitted via saliva, giving rise to its nickname as the “kissing disease.”

Kids and teens with mono may have a fever, muscle aches and sore throat. They often feel exhausted. However, many people — especially young children — experience no symptoms. And in most cases, mono resolves within a couple of weeks.

The new findings stem from an extensive genetic review of potential links between the Epstein-Barr virus and roughly 200 illnesses. However, the study could not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

The review actually uncovered preliminary links to 94 additional diseases, including breast cancer. But Harley’s team said further investigation is needed to confirm those associations.

Tim Coetzee is chief advocate for services and research with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. He characterizes the new findings as “an important contribution.”

“We need these kinds of studies to help us unravel how this virus could trigger disease,” he said. “The paper is also a powerful demonstration about how detailed genetic studies can help us understand human diseases.”

Careful research like this, Coetzee added, “will give us the knowledge we need to better understand the complexity of autoimmune diseases, and importantly point the way to potential prevention of these.”

 

Ask yourself if you have had a lot of strep throats, asthma, bronchitis or mono in your life.  Are you one who has allergies, If so, make an appointment with us, and we can work together to prevent any of these diseases from attacking you.

 

Health and Wellness Associates

Archived

P Carrothers

Director of Personalized Health Care

Preventative and Restorative Medicine

312-972-9355 (WELL)

 

HealthWellnessAssociates@gmail.com

 

https://www.facebook.com/HealthAndWellnessAssociates/