Many of you already know your gut is home to countless bacteria and there’s about 1,000 different species living inside your intestinal tract? All these bacteria help make up what’s called the microbiome. It’s well documented that maintaining your gut’s flora can go a long way in improving your overall physical health and, now, more and more research suggests there might even be a link to mental health.
1. Take a Probiotic
In one study, researchers fed probiotics—strains of good bacteria—to mice and suggested the resulting changes in the gut’s microbe colonies could ease feelings of anxiety.  A more recent study looked at prebiotics—carbohydrates that serve as “food” for that good bacteria—noting after three weeks, those who took a daily prebiotic supplement had an easier time sorting through anxious and depressed feelings.  And still, other reports suggested those out-of-whack bacteria levels could also be a cause of autism, suggesting probiotics as a therapeutic approach for autistic children.  
2. Use Curcumin to Modulate Cytokines
And so while probiotics and prebiotics could improve the condition of your gut, there’s also recent evidence suggesting internal irritation plays a strong role in your mental health.  There are many things that could cause irritation in the gut—unhealthy diets and obesity are just two of many. The body, then, sends cells and proteins to the site of the problem. Recent research suggests people with depression are loaded with cytokines—one of the proteins in question. Taking turmeric may show some relief in reducing gut irritation as well as environmental damage to the brain.
3. Incorporate More Omega-3s Into Your Diet
At the same time there’s evidence suggesting depression could be an allergic reaction to internal irritation, other studies suggest that supplementing with omega-3 and curcumin (an extract from the spice turmeric) could ease issues in the gut in much the same way as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).   More and more doctors are looking at approaching irritation in depression protocols, rather than simply addressing the neurological aspect. 
Maintaining a Healthy Gut
There are quite a few people out there who never even felt anxious or depressed until they experienced gut issues, furthering the idea that the intestine–brain connection is very real.  IBS, for instance, can cause depressive-like symptoms in people,  as can gluten intolerance. Performing a colon cleanse routinely and supplementing with probiotics can help you maintain a healthy gut. I recommend my Colon Cleanse Kit, which helps you cleanse your digestive tract of toxins while supporting your gut’s colonies of beneficial bacteria.
So, will you try improving your gut health to better your mental well being? Tell us what you think in the comments below.
by Dr. Edward Group DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM
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