Gut health link to anxiety/depression

It is funny isn’t it, we somehow disassociate our physical and emotional well-being as if they are two separate entities! But now, there is evidence to show (what we in natural health have known for centuries) that our physical health is a vital component to our mental well-being.

Today I specifically want to talk about gut health, well one aspect of it in particular which you will already have heard of, but some extra exciting aspects have come to light over the last few years that you may not know!

What I am talking about is probiotics. Probiotics have come a long way since I was first introduced to them at a seminar in London in the early 90’s. Then we only had one supplement to recommend and it was very expensive.

As the decade went on we got a few more strains and clients were seeing a few results – the strains we primarily used were Acidophilus and Bifidobacterium. There was quite a buzz about the potential for health even back then. As we could see that these products were really helping with long term gut issues.

When I was working with a health company in 2004 I was introduced to a probiotic called Reuteri and have been recommending them ever since and as I find out more and more about this strain I get more and more excited by the research and the results we are getting.

Why is Reuteri so exciting after all there are so many probiotics on the market, what makes this one so special?

First off Reuteri has been with us on this planet since before the continents drifted apart, yes a very long time ago in fact over 100 million years ago. With that length of time Reuteri has evolved to co- exist with humans. In fact it doesn’t just co – exist it is highly valuable for all of human life. This probiotic has been found in breast milk, specifically the colostrum, to help populate the infant’s gut and therefore helping with immunity digestion etc..

Reuteri has been found to be a thinking bacterium – where it can help proliferate good bacteria and kill off non-beneficial bacteria, helping to keep our gut in good health. With this it helps in so many other ways. Reuteri has had the most clinical studies done out of all of the bacteria strains. It has been shown to help in many diverse health areas such as:-

· Constipation

· Diarrhoea


· Abdominal pain

· Allergy prevention and treatment

· Cystic fibrosis

· Lactose intolerance

· Colic prevention and treatment

· Antibiotic side effects

· Infection protection and treatment

· Helicobacter pylori

· Anti-inflammatory

· Leaky gut

· Metabolic disorders – insulin resistance

The above are the proven benefits (as in long term clinical trials) we have also noted that these bacteria can help in other ways too- these are from observational trials.

· Lowers stress and pain

· Increases vitamin D levels

· Good for the thyroid

· Can lower bad cholesterol

· Promotes oral health

· Produces vitamin B12

· May help Autism

· Believed to help with weight loss

· Speeds up healing processes

· Helps thicken hair

· Helps with uptake of collagen so helps with skin integrity

· Helps with feel good hormone production Oxytocin

· Believed to help with sex drive in men and women

· Helps fight Candida Albicans

· Help to relieve anxiety and depression

So, if we are born with this amazing strain of bacteria why do we need to supplement?

Well, due to our western diet and medicine over the last few decades Reuteri in our guts and therefore in the nursing mothers breast milk have reduced levels significantly, making us more susceptible to infections. Which then leads us towards using more antibiotics which reduces the amounts of all gut bacteria.

By supplementing with Reuteri you can really help your whole body to thrive.

At Vitality we have 3 forms.

Nature’s Way - Primadophilus Reuteri – this is in capsule form and has to be kept in the fridge – I tend to recommend taking last thing at night as it seems to work best then – take 2 for the first 2 weeks then 1 per day after that.

We also have Nature’s Way - Primadophilus Reuteri powder – which is great for babies and children up to the age of 4 years of age. Put in water to give them a wonderful start in life. If your child is struggling with feeding, reflux or just not thriving then this really can help – have a chat with us re the dose. – some clients have also had success making yoghurt with this product – I have never tried but if you love yogurt and you have a lactose intolerance this could help!

New kid on the block – Practitioner only product BioGaia – this is a chewable strain that has been extensively tested and is very exciting. The other great thing is that, unlike the two others it doesn’t have to be refrigerated. So nice and easy to travel with.

Now back to the beginning – gut health and emotional wellbeing – sorry I got carried away with Reuteri (it is so exciting!!)

Did you know that we have cells in our gut, called gut epithelial cells? They run from our mouth to our anus. All the way through our digestive tract. These cells act like another brain. The GI system has, for some time, been called our second brain. We also have a large semi-autonomous nervous system, in fact the largest outside of the brain. This system could not (and cannot) do its job without the constant communication and actions with the single layer of Epithelial cells. These cells within the gut (we have epithelial cells in other parts of the body, but these are what we are most interested in for this topic) Have a critical job to do, as they have to communicate with the friendly gut bacteria, as well as T cells, B cells and macrophages.

What does that mean in simple terms?

If the gut is compromised, with leaky gut, IBS etc. then these amazing cells cannot do their job as their chain of communication has a gap in it, a broken link. When this happens all sorts of disease processes can start. Metabolic disease and viral infections are allowed to take hold, which can progress into deeper more chronic problems like Multiple sclerosis, arthritis and diabetes to name but a few.

Plus, while this is all going on our emotional state takes a battering. There is a large body of research that has been done linking probiotics that can really help our emotional well-being including amazing results with the many symptoms of depression and anxiety. Due the fact that there are more neurons in the digestive tract than anywhere else except the brain. These are linked to the interaction between the brain and the gut, which used to be thought to be a one way track (from brain to gut) it turns out that it is a two way street, with both interacting with each other, in so many ways that science really has only just seen the tiniest tip of the iceberg that is how our bodies really works as a whole not in separate parts.

As an addition to all of this, gut bacteria is also linked to our Hypothalamus (which I have written about heaps in my newsletters and blogs) This is in part due to the HPA axis (hypothalamus, pituitary adrenal) If your gut isn’t under stress then the rest of your body is more likely to be settled and at peace. Then we will no longer be in stress mode!! Bliss……..