Gut Feeling Are Probiotics the New Antidepressants?
There is a simple, natural, and non-pharmacological solution to these mood and brain conditions, however—and it resides inside the gut. I often surprise my patients by asking them, “How is your digestion? Any gas, bloating, nausea, bowel irregularities?” Their responses range from laughing out loud to curiosity or disbelief.
Problems in the brain often originate in the gut and, particularly, in the microbiome—the community of trillions of bacteria that live in the intestines and elsewhere in the body. Even when there are no digestive symptoms, the microbiome can be out of balance—often leading to disastrous consequences for our physical, mental, and emotional health.
Although we're used to thinking of bacteria as dangerous, they're actually just the opposite: Bacteria are essential to our health and, indeed, to our very life. Sure, some bacteria are dangerous, just as some are neutral. But the vast majority are beneficial. And because we co-evolved with them, our bodies are literally unable to function without them. Microbes enable us to digest our food, support our immune system, and process thought and emotion. They are an integral part of our health and wellbeing. A balanced microbiome means that you can think clearly, remember accurately, and focus intently. It also creates a calm, balanced mood with a lot of emotional reserve for processing stress. An unbalanced microbiome, by contrast, often leads to brain fog, anxiety, and depression—the ailments that so many physicians are treating with pharmaceuticals.