Thiel: Learn to love your gut flora

Insufficient gut bacteria is reported in a large percentage of those individuals presenting with depression or anxiety disorders.

  • Sep. 8, 2016 9:00 a.m.

Markus ThielGut and bacteria.

My 11 year old daughter would say “OMG dad. Gross”.

What do those two words make you feel — in your gut? Distasteful words, yes, but the role they play in your mental health is powerful.

There is a growing and very compelling body of research that illustrates that deficiencies in the manner of intestinal bacteria influences your susceptibility towards depression and anxiety.

We have nearly 100 trillion microbes in our gut that are there to nourish us and provide balance systemically, immunologically and neurologically. That is more than the number of people that have ever lived on Earth. In fact, we have more bacterial cells in our gut than the rest of the number of cells in our body.

It is postulated and clinically supported that some mental illnesses, including anxiety and depression may be the result of altered or aberrant gut bacteria —or gut flora. Depression is the leading disability in the world today. The cure may well be behind your belly button.

Fact: The gut is tantamount to immunity and neurological influence. Interestingly, there is a bidirectional communication between the gut, or enteric system (from your mouth to your anus) and your central nervous system. Yes, they talk to each other and one influences the other. This is via the autonomic nervous system, the enteric nervous system, the neuroendocrine system and the immune system. This is known as the gut-brain axis. It is a back and forth feedback system and one directly influences the other.

So, what affects this thing we call gut flora? Mostly diet, age, antibiotic treatment and stress.

Many studies have demonstrated that aberrant or, insufficient gut bacteria is reported in a large percentage of those individuals presenting with depression or anxiety disorders. Further studies illustrate the reversal of these maladies with restoration of normal gut flora.

So, what do we do? The word probiotic is a word most of us have heard. Essentially, it is therapy that is one that replaces your normal gut bacterial composition. Remember, this is the good bacteria, one that truly serves you systemically and neurologically. These are the cowboys wearing the white hats.

Go to your favorite health food store, ask for their very best probiotic, drink kombucha tea every morning. You can even make it at home, involve your children. It takes about 20 minutes each week to do. And if you can make your own kefir at home (a yogurt), do it. If not, just buy it.

The common western world approach to depression and anxiety disorders is to influence the levels of GABA and serotonin neurotransmitters. Guess what else directly affects those levels in both a positive and negative way. Gut bacteria.

Benton et al. in The European Journal of Clinical Nutrition demonstrated this in human subjects. They were neither the first nor the last to do so. Messauodi et al. did as well in The Journal of Gut Nutrition.

This column has been speckled with words that are commonly offensive, like bacteria, anus, gut, intestine — all things that are ‘eeeew’.

But believe me, there is sound evidence that this is a very important teeter totter we ride with respect to the interface between health, immunity, mental wellness and balance. In fact, there are more neurons in your enteric system than are in your brain. It has just become more than a gut feeling.

Try it, give it 30 days.

Just Posted

RCMP hunt for suspect in West Kelowna bank robbery

Suspect used a note and fled bank Saturday with an undisclosed amount of cash

Community Leader Awards: Shelley Pacholok

The Kelowna Capital News honours those who give back in the community

International Arts Festival returns to Kelowna

Living Things is a month-long festival with live performances by artists from around the world

Legion bell prank hits sour note

Anger erupts after Summerland Legion member removes bell from Peachland Legion

Kelowna Art Gallery members’ exhibition offers variety of media

Encounters will be held from Dec. 2 to Feb. 3

Vehicle with dog inside stolen from Oliver gas station

A black Honda CRV was stolen from the Oliver Chevron early Sunday morning

Team Canada loses 5-2 over the Czech Republic at World Junior A Challenge

Vees’ Tychonick drops in one of Team Canada West’s pair of goals

Site C decision coming Monday

Premier John Horgan to announce fate of dam project at B.C. legislature

PIGS bring Pink Floyd sound to Kelowna

Victoria band pays tribute to iconic British band on Feb. 10 at Mary Irwin Theatre

Letter: Another flagger dies; when will you slow down?

You have all seen our signs, trucks and my favorite our cones. Why don’t you slow down?

Kelowna-developed technology to be unveiled at Summerhill

Kelowna winery and tech company introduces new technology for phone or tablet

California couple name daughter after Revelstoke

Revy Elle Atashroo was born on Nov. 27. Her name honours the town her parents loved exploring.

Most Read