Anxiety and depression are commonly thought of as mental ailments, but new research has found that they may actually originate from the gut. With more scientific backing added to the idea of preserving gut health, anxiety and depression are now associated with gastrointestinal disease, including irritable bowel syndrome. The study even examines the role of poor gut health in the development of autism, a hot topic in the field of both mainstream and alternative health. Abnormal bacteria content in the gut, or too much "bad" bacteria, may play an integral role in the emotional and psychiatric health of humankind.
The average person has about 1,000 trillium bacteria living in the gut. Some of this bacteria is the result of lifestyle. Whether it be from taking pharmaceutical antibiotics or consuming meat containing antibiotics, the bacteria of the gut can easily be disturbed. This is particularly important considering that the gut is the powerhouse of the immune system. Gut bacteria performs vital roles to keep the body well, including fighting infections and extracting energy from nutritional intake. Therefore, upsetting the environment in which good bacteria resides -- or even altering the ratio of good to bad gut bacteria itself -- can result in infection and disease. Superbugs are a special danger to those with poor gut health, as the immune system is left to its own devices when antibiotics cannot aid in the fight.
Considering the essential role of gut bacteria in performing many of the body's most precious tasks, it is no surprise that gut health also plays a role in the development of depression, anxiety, and even autism. During the study, lab mice were given antibiotics in order to disrupt normal bacteria in the gut. As a result, there was an increase in brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) examined in the mice, which has been linked to depression and anxiety. When the antibiotics were discontinued, the gut bacteria returned to normal -- along with the brain chemistry of the mice. The difference between the mice and most humans is that these mice were only exposed to pill-based antibiotics. Many humans are exposed to not only antibiotics in their food, but a variety of other gut-altering chemicals and substances as well. From pesticides to preservatives, the gut is under constant assault.
"The exciting results provide stimulus for further investigating a microbial component to the causation of behavioural illnesses," said Stephen Collins, a professor of medicine and associate dean research at the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine.
Premysl Bercik, an assistant professor of medicine and fellow researcher, said that the study highlights the possibility of using probiotics to help aid in the fight against depression and anxiety. Probiotics can help improve the ratio between "good" and "bad" bacteria in the gut, leading to improved overall gut health. Probiotics, however, cannot make up for poor lifestyle choices. Consumption of antibiotic-laden meats and produce sprayed with a cocktail of pesticides will ultimately lead to poor digestion and severely damaged gut health. Switching to locally grown organic foods in addition to supplementing with probiotics will put your gut health on the right track to overcoming depression and anxiety.http://medicalxpress.com/news/2011-...http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/...http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7...http://www.health.harvard.edu/press...