As a naturopathic doctor, supporting the health of the gut is foundational in my work to help clients achieve their health goals. The gut is often called “the second brain” and has a direct influence on the brain, mood and emotion. Today, we will delve into a specific aspect of this connection – the profound influence of a condition known as “leaky gut” on our mood and emotions.
What is Leaky Gut?
Leaky gut, or intestinal permeability, is a condition where the lining of the digestive tract becomes compromised, allowing harmful substances like toxins, bacteria, and undigested food particles to leak into the bloodstream. This breach in the gut barrier can lead to a cascade of health issues, including those related to mood and emotional well-being. It can result from toxins such as glyphosate, PFAs, food sensitivities and gram-negative bacterial endotoxins such as lipopolysaccharides which have been discovered to cause inflammation in the lining of the gut wall.
The Gut-Brain Axis
The gut and the brain are intimately connected through a complex network of nerves, hormones, and biochemical signaling. This connection is often referred to as the “gut-brain axis.” It’s a bidirectional relationship, meaning that the health of your gut can significantly impact your mental and emotional state, and vice versa. So when we support digestive health we are also addressing mental health indirectly. There is now a branch of probiotics dubbed “psychobiotics” because they have been researched to show benefit to individuals dealing with mood disorders.
Leaky Gut and Mood Disorders
Emerging research suggests a strong link between leaky gut and mood disorders such as anxiety and depression. Here’s how it works:
1. The leakage of harmful substances from the gut into the bloodstream triggers an immune response, leading to systemic inflammation. Chronic inflammation is a known factor in the development and exacerbation of mood disorders.
2. The gut produces many of the same neurotransmitters found in the brain, including serotonin, often referred to as the “feel-good” neurotransmitter. When the gut is compromised, it can negatively affect the production and balance of these important chemicals.
3. Leaky gut can disrupt hormone balance, including those that regulate stress (such as cortisol). This imbalance can contribute to feelings of anxiety and mood swings.
4. A compromised gut can impair the absorption of essential nutrients, including vitamins and minerals that play a crucial role in mood regulation.
Healing the Gut for Improved Mood
As a naturopathic doctor, addressing mood disorders involves healing the gut. Some of the ways that I accomplish restoring gut health and supporting the mood:
– Recommending an anti-inflammatory diet rich in whole foods, probiotics, and gut-healing nutrients. For all clients, I run a food sensitivity test to see which foods are contributing to the current inflammation in their body so that we can tailor their diet for the best outcome.
– Emphasizing stress management techniques like deep breathing, meditation/prayer, and exercise are habits that are fundamental in supporting both gut and mental health.
– Utilizing targeted supplements such as drainage/detoxification, vitamins, minerals and probiotics to support gut health and mood regulation are the basics of supplementation for each of my programs.
In the “Your Comfortable Gut” Program I teach the 5 Pillars of Health: Detoxification, Stress Management, Nutrition, Sleep, and Movement as core modules for addressing chronic health issues. As Hippocrates once said,” all disease begins in the gut,” I believe that is where good health should start. I offer a 3-month and 6-month plan to educate on these pillars utilizing naturopathic principles.
I am here to support you on your health journey, regardless of where you are on that path. You are welcome to book an inquiry call to find out if you are a candidate for one of the two “Your Comfortable Gut” Programs.