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

Former Kelowna councillor and radio talk show host Barrie Clark dies

Clark remembered as a fair-minded ‘statesman’ who saw the big picture when it came to Kelowna

Missing Kelowna woman found

Christine Olsen-Meissnitzer has been located

More than $270,000 raised for Kelowna-based hospice

10th Swinging with the Stars fundraiser for the Central Okanagan Hospice Assoc. is a big success

Getting into the swing of spring

Kelowna garden shop is busy now that spring has finally arrived

Axe the tax says Kelowna city council

City says it wants B.C.’s Speculation Tax dumped because it could have a significant impact here

Wilkie returns home with three medals in tow

Paralympic champion returns home with a gold, silver and bronze from the 2018 PyeongChang games

Golden Knights win 4-1, remain undefeated against Canucks

Vegas gets points from 12 players in dominating effort versus Vancouver

Alberta budget plans for Trans Mountain expansion

Finance Minister Joe Ceci says expected revenues will be factored into budget forecasts

Parents respond to suicide alertness workshops

SafeTalk session discusses recognition and intervention awareness

Proposed gun bill attacked by gun owners and shooting victims

The federal government tabled the bill today in order to tighten the sale and tracking of firearms

New anti-radicalization centre in the works for B.C.

Centre aims to help ‘vulnerable individuals on the path to radicalization’ before they turn to crime

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

B.C. bravery, public service honoured by Governor General Julie Payette

UVic basketball coach Kathryn Shields inducted into Order of Canada

Most Read