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your leaky gut, your microbiome, and your mental health


Creative Independence nattu derivative work: Gobonobo

If you follow the research, you have noticed that over the past few years a veritable avalanche of studies have been published on all aspects of Gut Health.  The team put together by Dr. John R. Kelly (Psychiatrist) of the APC Microbiome Institute of the University College Cork in County Cork, Ireland are responsible for a couple of them.   He and his team (Drs. Gerard Clarke, John F. Cryan, Timothy G. Dinan, and others — all Medical Doctors, some with Ph.D’s), have knocked it out of the park by tackling the relationship between the Gut and mental health (they spend a lot of time dealing with DEPRESSION).

The abstract of a study published in last month’s issue of Annals of Epidemiology (Brain-Gut-<icrobiota Axis: Challenges for Translation in Psychiatry) stated….

“The accruing data linking the gut microbiome to the development and function of the central nervous system has been proposed as a paradigm shift in neuroscience. The gut microbiota can communicate with the brain via neuroimmune, neuroendocrine, and neural pathways comprising the brain-gut-microbiota axis. Dysfunctional neuroimmune pathways are implicated in stress-related psychiatric disorders.”

Considering what you have learned on my site about GUT HEALTH, the MICROBIOME, DYSBIOSIS, the health-destroying nature of Antibiotics, as well as the fact that 80% of your Immune System lives in your Gut (HERE), it’s not surprising that a paradigm shift is taking place.  Add to the mix the fact that SUGAR FEEDS DYSBIOSIS and Gluten is heavily linked to both Autoimmune Diseases (HERE) and brain / psychiatric issues of all sorts (HERE), as well as the fact that as a nation we are EATING WAY TOO MANY PROCESSED CARBS, and you have a recipe for disaster.  This is a recipe that Kelly’s team tackled six months ago in the October issue of Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience.

Today I want to take a look at a similar article they did six months ago that has a bibliography of over 300 studies (Breaking Down the Barriers: The Gut Microbiome, Intestinal Permeability and Stress-Related Psychiatric Disorders).  Let’s see if there is anything we can glean from it that could help us, our children, or our grandchildren, lead healthier and happier lives.  After talking about much the same thing they talked about above — only in much greater detail — the authors start discussing “Intestinal Permeability“.  

Your small intestine should be permeable enough to let water and small (digested) molecules of food in, but keep anything larger (bacteria, MOLD, YEAST, PARASITES, undigested or partially digested food particles, etc, etc) out.  If things are allowed to get through the barrier that should not get through, the Gut is said to be “leaky”.  Thus the name, LEAKY GUT SYNDROME; often referred to by the medical community using a variety of terminology.  The overgrowth of these nasties is called ‘Dysbiosis’.  All quotes in this paper may be ‘cherry-picked’ due to time constraints.

“Detailed mechanistic insights explaining these specific interactions are currently underdeveloped. However, the concept that a “leaky gut” may facilitate communication between the microbiota and these key signaling pathways has gained traction. Deficits in intestinal permeability may underpin the chronic low-grade inflammation observed in disorders such as depression, and the gut microbiome plays a critical role in regulating intestinal permeability. In this review we will discuss the possible role played by the gut microbiota in maintaining intestinal barrier function and the central nervous system consequences when it becomes disrupted. We will draw on both clinical and preclinical evidence to support this concept as well as the key features of the gut microbiota which are necessary for normal intestinal barrier function.”

After talking about the vast numbers of bacteria that make up our Microbiomes, we are given a lesson in some of the functions these bacteria are known to play in the Gut.   Numerous times in this paper, the authors admit that they don’t understand the mechanism of what is going on.  However, the one thing we can all agree on is that it is going on and that it is important — no; make that critical — to understand as far as your health is concerned.  Follow along as these authors show you why.

“The main function of the intestinal barrier is to regulate the absorption of nutrients, electrolytes and water from the lumen into the circulation. and to prevent the entry of pathogenic microorganisms and toxic luminal substances. Furthermore, regulation of the exchange of molecules between the environment and the host through the intestinal barrier influences the equilibrium between tolerance and immunity to self and non-self-antigens.”

Did you catch what’s being said in the second sentence above?  A failure of the intestinal barrier to work properly creates an intolerance to both “self” (AUTOIMMUNITY — where you start making antibodies against your own cells and tissues), and “non-self” (this is talking about things like dust, pollen, GLUTEN, etc) where your body makes immune system responses to things it should not.  These are often called ALLERGIES.

“The structure of the intestinal barrier is formed by the end of the first trimester. Functional development of the intestinal barrier continues in the post natal period and is influenced by both feeding mode and diet. Disruptions in this process….. can predispose to immune disorders. Indeed, there is an overlapping developmental course of the gut microbiota and intestinal barrier. The gut microbiota in the initial days of life is unstable and not particularly diverse in its make-up. By age three, however, the microbiota composition resembles that of an adult-like profile.”

This is a huge reason you need to be breast feeding your babies as opposed to feeding formula (HERE).  What your baby or toddler eats is far more than simply whether or not the proper nutrition is present — it’s about whether or not you are creating and FEEDING a healthy Microbiome.  Unfortunately, you don’t have to look far to realize that not only are many — maybe even the majority — of our nations smallest citizens not getting healthy food, they are often being allowed to choose what they want to eat.  

And let’s face it, if you give a two year old their choice between sweet potatoes, broccoli, and MILK, or Pop Tarts, Captain Crunch, and Dr. Pepper, they’ll choose the later every time.  Which, as you can see, affects both the Microbiome and the Intestinal Barrier.  Unfortunately, things that adversely affect the Intestinal Barrier, adversely affect the body’s other barrier systems as well.  Probably the most important and well-known of these is the “Blood Brain Barrier” (BBB). 

“Recent preclinical evidence from germ free mice (mice raised purposely raised with no Microbiome) suggests that the microbiota can modulate the BBB. Exposure of germ free adult mice to the fecal microbiota from pathogen-free donors decreased BBB permeability and increased the expression of tight junction proteins.”

This, my friends, is why the hottest therapy on the planet right now is also one of the grossest-sounding — FECAL MICROBIOTA TRANSPLANT.  Not only are any number of Autoimmune Diseases being cured (scratch that word, THE FDA doesn’t allow me to use it) using FMT, but it is also being used to modulate weight.  When germ free obese rats were given FMT’s taken from thin rats, they got thin.  And when the researchers turned around and gave the same rats FMT’s from fat rats, they likewise got fat.  Bottom line, what’s in your poop is a bigger deal as far as your health than you ever believed.  Let’s add to what we’ve already been told.

“A cardinal function of the gut microbiota is the development and maintenance of the intestinal barrier across the lifespan.  It is plausible that subtle alterations in microbiota acquisition or maintenance in early life may act as a vulnerability factor, impacting on (neuro)endocrine and (neuro)immune signaling pathways of the brain-gut-microbiota axis, disruption of which may subsequently predispose to stress-related disorders in adulthood.”

We could spend a year on this paragraph.  Five years ago I actually created a website (it’s now a blog post) about this very thing, called ENDOGUT.  If you neglect the Microbiome of your children when they are young (even “subtly“), these changes are magnified into adulthood.  This is why your kids need to not only spend time getting dirty, but it is potentially why VACCINES create so many problems in so many children (just look online at the number of sites on this topic).  It’s not that childhood vaccinations don’t prevent most cases of whatever disease they are supposed to prevent — they do that, and typically do it well for most diseases (NOT FLU, HOWEVER).  It’s that many experts believe we are swapping acute childhood diseases for CHRONIC INFLAMMATORY DEGENERATIVE DISEASES and Autoimmunity — mostly because the Vaccines are hard on the developing Microbiomes of infants and toddlers (HERE & HERE). 

“Indeed, this concept is an extension of the hygiene hypothesis first proposed in the late 1980’s and more recently reconceptualised as the “old friends hypothesis”. This proposes that encountering less microbial biodiversity may contribute to the increase in chronic inflammatory disorders…….”

And what, pray tell, messes up Microbiomes worse than anything else?  Easy; medicine.  And even though everyone is probably aware of how bad ANTIBIOTICS do this, the brutal truth is that according to one of the biggest-name experts in this field (DR. ART AYERS), all drugs act as Antibiotics to some extent, with some being much worse than others.  We also know that sugar feeds Dysbiosis (HERE).  Add all of this to the fact that as a nation we are consuming the majority of our calories in the form of sugar and processed carbs (HERE & HERE), and it’s no wonder we are chronically sick and OBESE.  We are destroying our Microbiomes!  Furthermore, anything you hear on this topic is not because you got it from your doctor.  When it comes to this issue, they are by and large not part of the solution. THEY ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM.

The truth is, this is a long paper, and it actually gets better.  However I don’t have time to spoon feed it to you.  You can read it yourself in ITS ENTIRETY on PubMed.  Bottom line, take care of your Microbiome (not to mention your children’s Microbiome) as if it were the single most important thing you could do for your / their health.  And if you are truly interested in breaking out of the prison of of health problems that is ruining your life, HERE is a good place to start.  The cool thing is that virtually everything you find on this link can be backed up by the study you just finished looking at.


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