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Dr. Emeran Mayer, executive director of the UCLA Center for Neurobiology of Stress, says that there is a connection between the gut and mental health conditions such as depression.

Many neuroscientists now call the gut a "second brain".

In his book, The Mind-Gut Connection, Dr. Emeran Mayer writes: “Your gut has capabilities that surpass all our other organs and even rival your brain. It has its own nervous system, known in scientific literature as the enteric nervous system, or ENS, and [is] often referred to in the media as the “second brain.”

The gut consists of about 100 million nerve cells. This ‘second brain’ and our regular brain use the same neurotransmitters and are connected through neural, immune, and endocrine pathways. It means that this is an integrated intelligent system with information flowing in both directions.

What is very interesting, scientists from the University of North Carolina have found that gut bacteria produce neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, and GABA. All these neurotransmitters are associated with our mood.

Another remarkable scientific discovery is that more than 95% of our body’s serotonin is produced and stored in the gut in the specialized enterochromaffin cells.

Dr. Mayer says: “By far the largest store of the molecule that plays such a big role in modulating our mood and our wellbeing – also appetite, pain sensitivity – is stored in the gut.”

Many studies have shown that our microbiome plays an important role in mental health and neurological conditions such as autism, epilepsy, and depression by interacting with our nervous system and even releasing molecules that can perhaps make their way to the brain.

Depression and chronic stress exposure cause atrophy of neurons.

The healthy brain contains approximately 86 billion neurons and at least that many glial cells. Glial cells are non-neuronal cells in the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord).

In order to work properly, the brain needs fuel, oxygen, sunlight, and activation.

Significant or chronic emotional stress, any interruption in sensory input, head trauma, toxin exposure, or gut dysbiosis will create levels of brain dysregulation.

Factors influencing mood disorders are lack of sunlight, poor diet with overindulgence of processed foods and sugar, nnEMF (electromagnetic field) exposure, lack of movement and physical strain, chronic stress, chronic inflammation, chronic infections (like Mycoplasma, Candidiasis, parasites) mitochondrial dysfunction, microbiome imbalance, chemical & metal toxicity, metabolic imbalance (hormones, micronutrients, dysglycemia), epigenetic changes (MTHFR, MAO, COMT SNPs) sleep disruption and overstimulation from smartphones, social media, etc..

Like almost all other chronic conditions,

anxiety and depression are directly related to chronic inflammation

in most patients.

Scientific evidence shows interactions with the gut-brain axis, the bidirectional communication system between the central nervous system and the gastrointestinal tract, and that the gut microbiome can also influence neural development.

Modifications of the microbiome (gut dysbiosis) can induce depressive-like behaviors. It now appears that gut microbes represent direct mediators of psychopathology.

Stress and depression can reshape the gut bacteria’s composition through stress hormones and inflammation. In turn, the gut bacteria release toxins, metabolites, and neurohormones that can alter mood and eating behavior. The gut bacteria may also upregulate stress responsiveness and heighten the risk for depression, which probiotic supplementation may attenuate.

Alterations in mitochondrial functions such as oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) and membrane polarity, which increase oxidative stress and apoptosis, may precede the development of depressive symptoms.

There is scientific evidence that there is a link between dental amalgam fillings and depression, anxiety, chronic fatigue, and even suicide. Studies have shown that the removal of amalgams caused improvement in these symptoms.

Aluminum is also being linked with neurological problems, abnormal thyroid function, or memory loss. Main sources of aluminum are cooking pots, aluminum foil, canned drinks, evaporated salt, preparations for hyperacidity, deodorants, shampoos, and some medications.

Lead also causes depression and migraines. The main sources of lead are hair dye, lipstick, ink (including mascara), pesticides, industrial paints, varnishes, and fish (the smaller they are, the less contaminated they are).

Vitamins and minerals are essential to remove heavy metals. Magnesium and silicon neutralize aluminum, zinc, and selenium neutralize mercury. Iodine removes excess fluoride and BPA.

Excess of copper also is linked with depression and anxiety attacks. Zinc and vitamin C supplementation helps to lower copper levels.

Studies have shown that zinc acts as a neuromodulator in glutamatergic and GABAergic balance. Low zinc could be a marker of mood disorder. It was reported that zinc deficiency induces depression while supplementing with this mineral improved mood.

The hair analysis test detects levels of nutrient minerals and also toxic metals in the body.

A blood test doesn’t show the real amount of elements in the whole body, because blood equalizes the amount of minerals in the serum at the expense of their reserves in tissues. It means that the amount of elements in our cells may be insufficient, even we have normal blood test results. Unlike blood, hair acts as a storage depot for minerals, so it shows the actual quantities of them in the body.

Circadian disruption is associated with many mental disorders, including major depressive disorder and bipolar disorder.

Circadian rhythm has been discovered by American chronobiologists Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash, and Michael W. Young. The mechanisms behind the biological clock are responsible, among others, for changes in hormone secretion, sleep quality, body temperature, metabolic processes, and blood pressure levels.

Long-term disturbance of the circadian rhythm causes shrinking of the brain, depression, neurodegenerative changes. It also disrupts the integrity of the intestines and damages the blood-brain barrier.

Chronic infections, like yeast infections and parasitic infections, are linked to mental illness.

For example, Candida releases nearly 80 byproducts, one of which is the powerful neurotoxin acetaldehyde.

Some scientists have suggested that Toxoplasma gondii infection can alter human behavior. Because the parasite infects the brain, it is suspected of making people more reckless, even being liable for certain cases of schizophrenia.

Neuro-parasitology is an emerging branch of science that deals with parasites that can control the nervous system of the host. It offers the possibility of discovering how one species (the parasite) modifies a particular neural network, and thus particular behaviors, of another species (the host).

Gastrointestinal parasites can have important effects on gut functions by modifying the enteric nervous system (ENS). Some parasites have a direct influence on the ENS by altering neuron numbers or phenotype; while others influence neurotransmitter release that in turn modify the ENS activity. In addition, a correlation between the host immune response, the inflammatory mediators, and the ENS activity was shown for several parasites further underlying the importance of the immune-brain-gut axis.

Diet has a huge impact on our mood and mental health.

Let me quote Dr. Perlmutter:

"Food is far more important than just fuel. It is information. Food directly communicates with our bodies, our brains, and even our DNA. It very clearly determines whether we lead lives of vibrant health or suffer from chronic diseases. When it comes to our cognitive health the food we eat influences both the actual structure of our brains and how well they work."

Bad eating habits (a diet high in simple refined carbohydrates and low in fiber), exposure to pesticides, herbicides and preservatives, antibiotics or other drugs, alcohol, or drugs lead to a disturbed bacterial balance.

Gluten elimination may represent an effective treatment strategy for mood disorders in individuals with gluten-related disorders.

Dr. Osborne explains the link between gluten and depression:

" Unfortunately, many are unaware of the connection between gluten and depression. Part of this connection has to do with the role gluten plays in causing intestinal permeability (Leaky Gut). This process was discovered originally by Dr. Fasano. The part less talked about has to do with gluten’s impact on the microbiome (good bacteria in the gut). Studies have shown that gluten can alter the normal bacterial flora, and in doing so set the stage for decreased levels of regulatory gut bacteria, and increased levels of bacteria that contribute to inflammation. When you combine leaky gut with altered bacteria, you get an increased presence of bacteria and their by-products in the blood. One type of bacterial byproduct is LPS (lipopolysaccharide). Studies have shown that when this happens, the immune system will produce inflammation trying to combat the presence of these translocated bacteria. This increase inflammation has been shown to alter the function of the brain, and a side effect of this is DEPRESSION. (...) Newer research has shown evidence that patients with gluten and dairy reactions have the antibodies showing up in their cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). This is an indicator that a disruption in the blood-brain barrier is present (i.e. Leaky Brain). Why is this so abnormal? The blood-brain barrier (BBB) is supposed to protect the brain from elements in the bloodstream that could create potential harm. This includes antibodies, inflammatory compounds, infections… If this barrier becomes leaky, it opens up the potential for a number of health problems. Some of the most common include autoimmune diseases that impact the central nervous system." One of them is depression.

What can we do to improve our mental health and well-being?

We need to change the diet, reduce inflammation, eliminate chronic infections, fix GI imbalance, regulate hormones and detox our bodies. It is also important to supplement good quality vitamins, minerals, and multi-strain probiotics. Therapies to relieve stress are also helpful.

If you wish to improve your mood and do the hair analysis test, I invite you for a nutritional consultation.

Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner

Katarzyna Blochowiak



Emeran Mayer Depression, Serotonin, and the Mind-Gut Connection

Michael A. Gruttadauria, DC, DACAN Anxiety & depression as a brain dysregulation disorder

Curr Opin Behav Sci. 2019 Stress, depression, diet, and the gut microbiota: human–bacteria interactions at the core of psychoneuroimmunology and nutrition

Mol Psychiatry 2016 From gut dysbiosis to altered brain function and mental illness: mechanisms and pathways.

Neuro Endocrinol Lett. 2014 Evidence supporting a link between dental amalgams and chronic illness, fatigue, depression, anxiety, and suicide.

Front. Psychol., 2018 Mind Control: How Parasites Manipulate Cognitive Functions in Their Insect Hosts

Nutrients. 2018 Mood Disorders and Gluten: It’s Not All in Your Mind! A Systematic Review with Meta-Analysis

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