The “winter blues” seem to hit every year as soon as the holidays end. And this year? Well, I think it’s safe to say we have a double whammy headed our way.
The crises of 2020 didn’t just evaporate when the calendar flipped. And these cold, dark winter days deepen many people’s struggle with depression, low moods, and anxiety.
So today, I thought we should talk about one tiny factor that can make a very big difference in this fight: your microbiome.
Support for your “second brain”
One recent population-based study established a strong link between gut bacteria and mental health by identifying a number of microbiota associated with both depression and quality of life.
Researchers analyzed data from more than 1,050 people enrolled in the Flemish Gut Flora Project (FGFP). And they identified two strains of bacteria—Coprococcus and Dialister—that were significantly depleted in both medicated and non-medicated depression patients.
They also looked at more than 1,000 patients with treatment-resistant depression from the Dutch LifeLines (DEEP) study. And they found the exact same pattern in subjects’ microbiomes.
In this Dutch population, researchers also found that larger numbers of Faecalibacterium and Coprococcus bacteria had consistent associations with better quality of life in depressed patients.
The study authors note that both strains of bacteria produce butyrate—a short-chain fatty acid that I’ve mentioned here before. This metabolite strengthens your gut’s lining and slashes intestinal inflammation. So it’s not exactly surprising that depleted levels would leave you vulnerable to both inflammatory bowel disease and depression.
After all, your gut is called your “second brain” for a reason. Among its many other roles, it’s also responsible for generating the majority of your body’s serotonin supply—the exact neurotransmitter popular antidepressants aim to increase.
In other words, more of the happy chemicals we associate with good moods are produced in the lining of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract than anywhere else.
The gift that keeps on giving
I hope all the conventional medical doctors out there are paying attention—because the connection between gut bacteria and good health of any kind just keeps getting deeper.
Of course, those of us in the world of nutritional medicine have known this for decades now. (I literally wrote the book on it—called Boost Your Health with Bacteria.) But for some mystifying reason, mainstream medicine still hasn’t fully embraced the concept.
And this is just one of the latest examples of the incredible progress we’ve made on this front. It all started with the Human Microbiome Project—and it just never stops.
We now know that a number of gut bacteria have “neuroactive” potential. And research is finally pinpointing the mechanisms of action behind benefits that docs like me have been seeing in patients all along.
Just think about it: Wouldn’t it be great (and simple) to have your doctor prescribe a probiotic when you’re feeling low? (That’s exactly what I’ve been doing for almost 30 years now!)
Now, you may not be able to rush out and purchase these particular bacterial strains (yet), but don’t let that stop you. As I’ve explained here before, the real secret to a stellar microbiome is diversity. Give your microbiome everything it needs, and it will flourish all on its own.
A good probiotic should feature different strains of friendly flora—along with prebiotics, probiotics, and postbiotics. But there’s a whole lot more that you can do to keep your microbiome thriving. In fact, I wrote an entire series on the subject back in the March and April 2019 issues of my monthly newsletter, Logical Health Alternatives.
Subscribers have access to those issues, along with everything else I’ve written over the years, in my archives. So if you’re looking for another gift to give yourself this New Year, don’t wait—click here to sign up today.
“Gut Bacteria Tied to Depression.” Medscape Medical News, 02/11/19. (medscape.com/viewarticle/908931)