Category: Mental Health

Guthack.Com Guest Post: 7 Symptoms of an Unhealthy Gut

By: Nichelle Antoque, GutHack.Com
Many people underestimate gut health. However, gut health is critical for our overall well-being. Poor gut health can lead to major health issues such as autoimmune diseases, depression, chronic fatigue, diabetes, and obesity.

With our modern lifestyles, our gut health is deteriorating. A number of reasons that cause our gut health to deteriorate include lack of sleep, high-stress levels, processed foods, increased sugar intake, and medications. As a result of this, our gut health suffers along with our mental health, skin, cardiovascular health, immunity, and weight. We are even at a bigger risk of developing cancer. Let’s learn a bit more.
If you are uncertain about your gut health or suspect that you have an unhealthy gut, here are 7 common symptoms.

Weight Gain or Weight Loss

Unintentional weight changes are usually the signs and symptoms of an unhealthy gut. An unhealthy gut absorbs the nutrients that control our blood sugar levels and fat. If you have been gaining or losing weight and have made no changes to your diet or exercise routines, it could be signs of an unhealthy gut.


Skin Problems

Skin problems like eczema are linked to an unhealthy gut. Inflammation in the gut that’s caused by food allergies or an unhealthy diet can cause the skin to become irritated. These reactions lead to various skin conditions.


Digestive Issues

Digestive issues such as bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea, Crohn’s Disease, heartburn, and even heartburn are the number one signs of an unhealthy gut. If you have experienced any of these digestive issues frequently, then it’s highly likely that your gut is unhealthy.


Sugar Cravings and a High Sugar Diet

If you consume a lot of sugar or sugary foods on a daily basis, the sugar starts to destroy all the good bacteria in your gut. By consuming sugar in large doses, you are feeding the unhealthy bacteria in your gut. Harmful bacteria begin to thrive on this, further causing sugar cravings.


Food Allergies and Intolerances

Food intolerances can be caused by poor bacteria in the gut. Your gut and immune system can react negatively to certain foods which can also cause other symptoms such as nausea, diarrhea, bloating, gas, and abdominal pain.


Mental Health Issues

An unhealthy gut can cause various mental health conditions, such as depression, stress, anxiety, and moodiness. This is due to the fact that your body is unable to absorb certain nutrients.

90% of your serotonin is made in your gut.

This also causes a lack of serotonin and dopamine in the brain, which is your happy hormones.


Autoimmune Diseases

Poor gut health causes the immune system to function poorly, which causes systemic inflammation. This is also another cause of autoimmune diseases. When your immune system functions poorly, it’s unable to fight off any of these diseases and the body starts becoming weaker.


Bottom Line

A healthy gut is key to overall well-being. It is required to maintain good cardiovascular health, brain health, and your immune system. There are a number of changes that you can make in your daily lifestyle to achieve good gut health, start by eating healthier foods and getting active.
Guthack.Com is all about discovering and examining safe alternative methods, backed by real research and testimonies, to reduce symptoms of IBD and IBS when standard procedures are so ineffective that even medical professionals admit there are no answers.
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African woman doctor checking patient's blood pressure

10 Common Conditions Tied to Gut Health

“All disease begins in the gut.” You’ve heard us scream this more than Chicken Little yelled, “The sky is falling!” As microbiome studies continue to gain more funding, we are learning just how much levity “All disease begins in the gut” really holds. In fact, here are 10 common conditions tied to gut health.



Riding with the all the gut health cliches today, the gut is known as the second brain. That’s because there are many nerve fibers at the end of the brain stem that dips into the gut. These fibers act as messengers to the mind. When your gut health is out of control, your microbiome will send stress signals to the brain.

gut health gut brain connection

When we are under stress, our adrenal glands secrete a hormone known as cortisol. The more stress we feel, the more cortisol our body creates. Therefore, if  poor stomach health becomes chronic, cortisol will take over the system, causing chronic stress.
Naturally, this stress will manifest as anxiety. A way for your body to stop anxious thoughts and behaviors is with the neurotransmitter, serotonin. However, studies find that up to 90% of the serotonin in our system comes from our gut. So, if the microbiome is too unhealthy for good bacteria to flourish, you can believe it’s not producing serotonin either.



Another pivotal hormone we need is melatonin. Melatonin keeps our sleep cycle on track. This hormone is the reason why our eyes get heavy watching TV on the couch an hour before bed.  Our pineal gland secretes this hormone like clockwork everyday.
However, there’s no room for melatonin in the system when cortisol has run amok.  Excess cortisol can keep you up at night. This lack of sleep will cause you to feel stressed during the day. The result is yet another sleepless night. Get the picture?
Eventually, bedtime itself will breed more anxiety. You will become frustrated with the sleep struggle and grow to dread the night. Insomnia and anxiety wash each others’ hands and they all may stem from poor gut health.



Cortisol’s role in ruining your life isn’t over. If poor gut health remains untreated, one of the lasting effects is infertility. That’s because excess cortisol doesn’t leave much room for any other hormones. This includes estrogen and testosterone.
Men are more sensitive to infertility when it comes to gut health related issues because excess cortisol transforms into adipose fat. Excess fat eventually gets converted into estrogen. Obviously, if a man has too much estrogen, it’s lowering all the qualities that makes them a man such as potent sperm.

infertile man gut health

Not to mention, when your gut health is comprised, all of your foods aren’t being broken down properly. Therefore, they tend to build up and pool around your gut. This creates a blockage that doesn’t allow oxygenated red blood cells to reach the nether regions. In turn, this may have a negative impact on sexual arousal, potency of sperm, and erectile dysfunction.



Thought cortisol was done? Think again! Remember how we said excess cortisol turns to fat which converts into estrogen?  Yeah, back to that “excess fat.” Combining the excess fat to the fact that food is starting to become backlogged due to an unhealthy gut all leads to obesity.
While poor gut health opens the floodgates for these conditions, obesity opens the floodgates for even more. That’s because obesity is tied to so many debilitating conditions such as:
Type 2 Diabetes
Cardiovascular Disease
Colon Cancer
Obesity doesn’t happen overnight. If you notice fat gathering around your midsection, please take a gut health test and get on a personalized probiotic supplement to address the underlying issues.


Acid Reflux


acid reflux gut health

With your gut sealed off by undigested fibers, it turns your microbiome into a bubbly witch’s cauldron. When your gut health is comprised, the environment becomes too acidic.
As the acid levels continue to rise, it begins to percolate, causing acid reflux.
Not only will you feel stomach pain, but you may also experience:
• A Burning Itch in the Throat
• Gassy Burps
• Hiccups
• Heartburn
• Indigestion
Acid reflux is your body’s response to poor gut health and may  cause a lot of discomfort. The best thing to do is to try to balance the foods in your diet to create a healthier microbiome.


Leaky Gut Syndrome

With all these toxins stewing about in your system, it can prove to hazardous for your gut to handle. Therefore, it may cause a break in the lining. In turn, the toxins that are waiting to led out of your system can enter your bloodstream. This is Leaky Gut Syndrome.
Undigested proteins can interact with your healthy oxygenated cells and corrupt them. This may cause a myriad of side effects that may impact everything from mental health to skin health to stomach discomfort.


Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Studies have found the law-grade inflammations located throughout the colon and small intestines are the culprits behind Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
IBS rears its ugly head in three forms:
• Diarrhea
• Constipation
• Pain
These happen because poor gut health alters the gut motility. Whenever we have to use the restroom, our muscles in the sphincter contract so we can push out toxins. Depending on the bacteria in your gut, these contractions may happen too often or too slow, causing cases of IBS.



Hemorrhoids are swollen veins. While you can’t see nor generally feel internal hemorrhoids (although blood in your stool is an indication they may be there), external hemorrhoids can be quite painful.

ibs gut health

Whenever you have to use the bathroom more often, such as in case of IBS, hemorrhoids becomes more common.
That’s because the swollen veins are more irritated by the force of going to the bathroom and the vigorous rubbing of toilet paper. All of this is a snowball effect of poor gut health.

Autoimmune Diseases

As your microbiome changes from poor gut health, it begins to alter other parts of your body. Highly acidic levels can destroy important neurological cells. In turn, this may cause an autoimmune disease.
An autoimmune disease happens when healthy cells in your immune system begin to attack other healthy cells. There are many types of Autoimmune Diseases out there. Some of the most common include:
• Rheumatoid Arthiritis
• Parkinson’s Disease
• Lupus
• Celiac Disease
• Thyroiditis
• Vitiligo
Studies have shown that a gut health imbalance (dysbiosis) causes the body to be predisposed to autoimmune diseases.


Skin Conditions

As you may have noticed vitiligo on the autoimmune disease list, there are also many skin conditions that spur much in thanks to gut health.
skin gut health
Anytime you see a rash, bump, or blotchy redness, there is something brewing underneath. That’s because like your gut, your skin has its own microbiome.
Skin conditions are your body’s way of saying there’s a war going on inside. There is either an allergen synthetic ingredient, or foreign substance in your system causing this problem. If a skin condition is chronic, figure out what you’re eating that may be triggering this issue. After all, there is a dark side of wheat, which is why we have seen a rise in gluten sensitivities over the years.

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Benefits From Probiotics – How Microbes Influence Mood

Today, we have an expert piece written by Dr. Lam, who is a western trained physician specializing in nutritional and anti-aging medicine. Dr. Lam is a pioneer in using nontoxic, natural compounds to promote the healing of many age-related degenerative conditions. He utilizes optimum blends of nutritional supplementation that manipulate food, vitamins, natural hormones, herbs, enzymes, and minerals into specific protocols to rejuvenate cellular function.
He is an international best-selling author and has written seven books: Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome – Reclaim Your Energy and Vitality with Clinically Proven Natural Programs, Advanced Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome, Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome Cookbook, Estrogen Dominance, Beating Cancer with Natural Medicine, The Five Proven Secrets to Longevity, and How to Stay Young and Live Longer. He serves as senior health and nutritional coach at, where his personal, telephone-based coaching services have enabled many around the world to regain control of their health using natural therapies.
Michael Lam, M.D., M.P.H., A.B.A.A.M
The gut is called “the second brain” for good reason, though it’s only in the last few decades that the importance of the gut in overall health has taken center stage in conventional medical science, which is now catching up to ancient wisdom from Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurvedic medicine, as well as other ancient medical traditions.
As we now know, the gastrointestinal (GI) tract contains around 100 trillion microbes, and the microbes present in the human body outweigh the number of human cells by tenfold. This makes maximizing the benefits from probiotics a very intelligent health decision so that you can maintain an alliance with the good bugs in your body and keep the bad ones at bay.
The gut’s microbiome contains both healthy and unhealthy bacteria, and the presence of healthy bacteria is what keeps the unhealthy bacteria in check. Using probiotics, which are supplements that contain live healthy bacteria, can help maintain or bring back that balance. This is especially important for those who have had issues with their GI tract.
An imbalance in the gut bacteria is called dysbiosis, and it is a trigger for many other problems, including inflammation, food and drug sensitivities, autoimmunity, gastrointestinal disorders, Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS), dysregulation of the NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) Stress Response, depression, malabsorption, skin disorders, neurological issues, and more.
That’s because, with dysbiosis, you are at a greater risk for developing leaks in the gut’s lining, which can let into the bloodstream substances that shouldn’t be there, such as food particles, pathogens, and toxins. As soon as these substances enter the bloodstream, your immune system will launch an attack on them, kicking off your NEM’s inflammation response.
That’s why we say inflammation always begins in the gut.
And as long as these leaks are not sealed, this chain reaction will continue, and the inflammation can spread to other parts of the body, such as the joints (causing pain and swelling), or the brain and nervous system (causing mood disturbances such as anxiety and depression).
Your adrenal glands are your body’s first line of defense against stress, and inflammation and dysbiosis are powerful physical stressors. Your adrenals secrete the main anti-stress hormone, cortisol, in order to deal with these issues, as two of its main functions are to suppress the immune system and neutralize inflammation.
But, again, if the leaks are persistent, your adrenals will have to keep pumping out more and more cortisol as the inflammation and immune response keep getting triggered. At some point, your adrenals will get so overworked that they will dysregulate, leading to AFS. And as the adrenals are the NEM’s most important defense mechanism, the rest of the NEM will have to compensate for their weakening, putting it at risk of dysregulating too.
That’s why it is really important to do your best to bring back balance to your microbiome, seal up the leaks in your gut, and bring down the inflammation as quickly as possible. And those are some of the benefits from probiotics that you can get.


Mental Health Benefits From Probiotics

The connection between the gut and the brain is referred to as the gut-brain axis. You can probably recall times when you have experienced this connection first hand. Have you ever been really nervous about something and you could barely eat? Or maybe you were really distressed about a situation in your life and you found your digestion wasn’t working smoothly?
On the other hand, have you ever eaten a heavy meal and experienced brain fog afterward? Or you consumed a lot of sugar and caffeine and then started to feel irritable?
This is the gut-brain axis in action, and the connection is very strong, mainly due to the fact that your gut contains around three-quarters of your neurotransmitters, including key players like serotonin and dopamine. The production and balance of these neurotransmitters are highly influenced by the gut’s microbiome, and how healthy it is.
This is what led to scientific studies looking at whether benefits from probiotics extended to the mental health arena, and the results were quite interesting.
For example, researchers at the University College Cork in Ireland reviewed different studies conducted on probiotics to determine whether taking a probiotic supplement can be part of the treatment plan for depression and stress-related disorders. Although they found that not all probiotics could produce mental health benefits, certain strains, which were termed “psychobiotics,” did indeed help.
In a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized study, volunteers that were given a combination of L. helveticus R0052 and B. longum experienced a significant reduction in their psychological stress levels. These strains can also be found in Thryve’s personalized probiotics.
Several studies showed that the probiotic B. infantis helps improve Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), which is a condition that is connected to depression and anxiety. On the other hand, another probiotic, L. salivarius, had very little effect on IBS.
Most researchers believe that the mental health benefits from probiotics come from their ability to reduce inflammation as they balance the gut’s bacteria and bring harmony to the microbiome. These benefits are also helpful if you have AFS, as the adrenal glands are given a break when inflammation goes down, giving the rest of your NEM a chance to strengthen and rebalance as well.
And, of course, as the adrenals and NEM heal and get stronger, the more they are capable of handling stress, which will also give a boost to your mental health.


How To Get Benefits From Probiotics

First of all, you should try to avoid things that cause dysbiosis in the first place, as it’s difficult to sustain the benefits from probiotics if you keep damaging your microbiome.
These things include:
• Taking antibiotics frequently
• Consumption of alcohol or drugs
• Frequent use of certain medications (such as painkillers)
• Eating a bad diet (such as the Standard American Diet)
• Eating gluten, dairy, and other allergenic foods
• Not eating enough fiber
• Consuming too much sugar
• Exposure to toxins
• Chronic stress
You can choose to take a probiotic supplement, but make sure that you get the okay from your doctor first, especially if you have a health condition that needs care. If you suffer from constipation, probiotics can make it worse. Some people with AFS get constipation, while others experience diarrhea, so keep that in mind.
The other thing you can do is to include probiotic-rich foods in your diet. Those include kombucha tea, plain yogurt, kimchi, kefir, sauerkraut, miso, tempeh, and pickles. If you have AFS, you should be following an adrenal fatigue diet, which is also anti-inflammatory. Adding a few of these items to it can give your gut that extra support, but make sure that you stay aware of your health and your body’s reaction when trying them out.
Some of these items are heavy on the salt and may impact your sodium-potassium balance, which is affected by AFS. When in doubt, it’s better to consult a professional. All in all, however, eating these foods is a healthy and safe way to get benefits from probiotics.
Disclaimer: The above article is sponsored by Thryve, the world’s first Gut Health Program that incorporates microbiome testing and personalized probiotics to ensure a healthier gut, happier life, and a brighter future.

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Depression And The Human Gut Microbiota

Depression is one of the most common disorders responsible for disability in humans worldwide. The causation of this reocurring condition has been found to involve the dysregulation in neuroendocrine (hormonal), neurotransmitter, and metabolic systems. Let’s take a look at how this disruptance affects the body, as we look at the depression and gut microbiota connection. 


How Are Depression and Human Gut Microbiota Connected?

Over the years, there has been enough evidence pointing towards the role of gut microbes in neural development and function. Together, the intestinal bacteria represents a virtual organ of sorts inside of us. In fact, these cells have almost 100 times more genetic material present than all the cells in our human body.
Unfortunately, the classification of all the microbes present in our body is incomplete. About 60% of these microbes cannot be grown in a lab for studies.
Even though the role of gut microbes in neurological conditions has not been well established, there has been a rapid increase in evidence which underlines the possibility that changes in the gut microbial environment have an effect on the normal functioning of our nervous system. Hence, our gut environment can have a major role to play in our mood and also in depression.


Gut Microbiota and the Brain


There exists a bidirectional communication between our gut microbiota and the components of the gut-brain axis. This communication can influence the normal functioning of the gut and may contribute to a risk of diseases in humans.
Changes in gastrointestinal (GI), autonomic nervous system (ANS), immune system, enteric (intestinal) nervous system (ENS), and central nervous system (CNS) brought about by the microbiota can lead to alterations in the following:
• GI barrier function
• Fat storage and energy balance
• Increased stress reactivity
• General low-grade inflammation (GI and systemic)
• Depressive-like behaviors and increased anxiety
All the above-mentioned mechanisms are found to be involved in the development of mood and anxiety disorders in humans.


Gut Microbiota and Mood


The vast number of bacteria which constitute the intestinal microbiome are engaged in interactions with each other, as well as its local environment, in a balanced manner. This tight-rope act is done to achieve the normal functioning of our body.
Microbes produce a wide range of biologically and neuroactive (acting on the nervous system) molecules, complete with neurotransmitters and an extensive set of short-chain fatty acids. Short-chain fatty acid are produced through fermentation, all of which have known and unknown effects on the nervous system.
These direct and indirect effects of the intestinal microbes on the intestinal tissues, local immune system and their components, and the enteric (intestinal) nervous system, affect the neuronal pathways of our brain. The above-mentioned processes together influence our mood and cognition by acting upon the components of our neural system. Increasing evidence points to a strong relationship between our intestinal health and our mental well being.  


Depression and the Microbiome

Depression is associated with altered gut microbial composition, richness, and diversity. In a study conducted where the researchers transplanted the microbiota signature found in depressed patients to rats whose own microbiota was purposefully depleted, this procedure induced the development of some of the behavioral (anxiety, anhedonia) and physiological features of the depressive state.    
Studies have also shown the impact of early life stress in remodeling the gut microbial composition. Subtle changes in microbial acquisition and maintenance during the vulnerable early life period may contribute to the predisposition of the individual to stress-related disorders in the adulthood. This can be a result of the effect of these subtle changes in our microbiome on the neuro signaling pathways of the brain-gut microbiota axis.
There is growing evidence suggesting the role of our intestinal microbes in neural development, both centrally in the brain and in the enteric nervous system. Depression is characterized by alterations in the gut microbiota and hence, we need to understand our gut so as to ensure a healthy functioning of our bodily systems. 

Understanding the gut brain connection gives us more tools in treating depression and other disorders of the brain. By sequencing your microbiome with consumer testing like Thryve, you’ll be able to gain more insights into how each of these microbes may contribute to your mood. Probiotics have also shown in studies to reverse negative emotions and enforce positive thinking. All in all, this should be enough to give us a whole new meaning to the quote: “You are what you eat.”  
Disclaimer: The above article is sponsored by Thryve, the world’s first Gut Health Program that incorporates microbiome testing and personalized probiotics to ensure a healthier gut, happier life, and a brighter future.


Click Here To View Resources



[1] Mood and gut feelings:
[2] Gut-brain axis: how the microbiome influences anxiety and depression:
[3] Transferring the blues: Depression-associated gut microbiota induces neurobehavioural changes in the rat. :

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A Quick Guide To 10 Fascinating Neurological Disorders!

The human body is intricately regulated by autonomic nervous systems that propel us through our day-to-day. Our brains seem to be at the center of our central nervous system, steering the ship. This ship slowly becomes the Titanic when we develop a neurological disorder. Neurological disorders cause a range of symptoms that impact everything from depression to productivity to your overall health.
Some of us develop neurological symptoms over time, such as Alzheimer’s Disease or Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Others are born genetically predisposed to a mental health condition, like depression. Meanwhile, there are some children born with their neurological disorder, like autism. No matter where they stand on the spectrum, there is one common factor — gut bacteria.


What Does Gut Bacteria Have to Do With Brain Health?

A growing amount of evidence suggests your gut plays a much more significant role in how your brain operates. The apparent overlap between neurology and gastroenterology is well-defined through the gut-brain-axis. 
As more science comes to light, we’re coming to realize that specific bacteria influence the development of many neurological disorders. This realization might one day help neurologists sidestep neurosurgery and opt for less invasive procedures or treatments.
In this piece, we’re not going to talk about cases of neurological disorders, such as brain injury or spinal cord injury. There’s more at play in these instances than just gut bacteria, and we don’t want to cause any confusion about how the gut-brain connection works. Here’s an easy-to-read and science-backed guide about neurological problems associated with gut health.


What Are Neurological Disorders?


what are neurological disorders?

Our body is a dense network of nerves, forming the nervous system. This system along with the brain and spinal cord ensure smooth functioning of the human body.
One could picture this network as one that relies on signals which need to be generated accurately. Even the tiniest miscommunication could be disastrous.
So what happens when a slight structural, electrical or chemical anomaly resides in your nervous network? It generates incorrect signals and subsequently spirals into a full-fledged disorder! This phenomenon is exactly what we will be probing into today!
Despite which type of neurological disorder you’re diagnosed with, the term “neurological disorder” implies that information isn’t being shared adequately throughout your autonomous nervous systems. As traditional Eastern medicine suggests, “As above, so below.” Via the gut-brain-axis, those with a neurological disorder most likely have miscommunication going on in the gut microbiome, too!
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 6.8 million people die from a neurological condition each year [1]. Furthermore, over one billion have been diagnosed with various types of neurological disorders. 
The stigma over mental health is lifted, and it’s time that we get the help that we need and deserve. Here are some of the most common neurological infections and disorders.

types of neurological disorders


Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, is a devastating neurological disorder that poses a threat to the body’s normal functioning. The onset of this disease is due to the death of neurons that are responsible for voluntary movements. 
While the cause of Lou Gehrig’s Disease is unknown in most cases, the disease symptoms are definite and brutal in nature. Many experience stiff muscles and loss of sensation. Eventually, the person will develop difficulties in speech, movement, and breathing. 
With no cure in sight, most cases spell eventual death within a period of 2-3 years. However, some variants of this disease are being battled. One example is Stephen Hawking, a renowned cosmologist who did not let his diagnosis deter him from his phenomenal work in cosmology. He continued to communicate until his death at 76 years old.
Although there is no cure, that doesn’t mean there isn’t hope. A recent study looked at the progress of ALS and motor functions in mice when treated with 11 different bacteria strains [2]. Akkermansia muciniphila showed much promise in preventing neurological problems associated with this crippling disease. 
Researchers noted that Akkermansia muciniphila created a metabolite known as nicotinamide (NAM). Experts believe this molecule played a significant role in improving the motor functions of the test subjects. 


Alzheimer’s Disease

Touted to be one of the most ruthless forms of dementia, this disease attacks one mentally rather than physically. The patient loses the ability to retain memories and begins to display behavioral abnormalities and memory impairments. It is the sixth leading cause of death in America with no cure in sight so far. 
Recent studies show that gut bacteria influence the creation of the β-Amyloid Peptide pathway [3]. This protein plaque binds to receptors in the brain, which can cause the death of grey matter. A loss of grey matter leads to various mental disabilities, including this condition.
This study compared germ-free mice, conventionally-raised mice, and genetically-altered mice gut microbiomes. Results found that the development of the β-Amyloid Peptide pathway is essentially inevitable. 
However, it becomes prevalent with more peptide growth when specific bacteria take over, such as Verrucomicrobia and Firmicutes. In promising news, those who had higher levels of Bacteroidetes seemed to exhibit fewer cognitive issues. 
Symptoms of dementia are treatable, and there are help-centers at one’s disposal these days. Please seek help at the first sign of memory loss. 



Autism has grown increasingly common over the decades. This rise in awareness has helped many children develop into productive parts of our society. Autism is a spectrum, so symptoms will vary.
However, examples of symptoms include:
• Eye Contact Avoidance
• Unique Posture and Movements
• Trouble With Language Comprehension
• Social Interaction Issues
• Poor Coordination
While there is no cure for autism, there might be preventative measures to take. A meta-analysis of the connection between autism and gut bacteria found that mice with an autism-like condition developed low levels of Blautia and Bifidobacterium in their microbiome. Furthermore, people with this condition tend to have lower levels of Coprococcus, Prevotella, and Veillonellaceae [4]. 
Pregnant mothers might want to discuss probiotic interventions. Meanwhile, those who are trying to conceive might want to consider a vaginal and gut microbiome test. You’ll get a better idea as to which bacteria you are passing along to your child. 
Lastly, probiotic intervention might help improve communication throughout the central nervous system. In turn, this option might be viable for those who don’t have extreme examples of symptoms. Please discuss all of these options with your physician before making changes to you or your child’s wellness plan.


Brain Tumors


Neurological disorders like epilepsy and brain tumors

People often wish for the day when the word ‘cancer’ will just mean a star-sign. Inflicting pain, fear, psychological stress, and trauma are some of the traits that cancer brings along. Brain tumors are one of the more feared variants of this monstrous disease. When abnormal cells begin to take up residence in the brain, it is never good news. 
Physical symptoms include:
Speech Issues
Trouble Walking
Poor Coordination
Doctors prescribe radiation and chemotherapy in abundance, not to mention plenty of optimism. However, a recent study gives us a little more hope. 
This study suggested that Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG and Lactobacillus casei might influence the immune system to prevent inflammation that can cause cancerous growths [5]. Experts noted that this bacteria seemed to stimulate NK cells, Th1 cells, and dendritic cells that prevent cancerous cells’ growth. 



Epilepsy involves seizures, which causes physical symptoms, such as uncontrollable shaking of the body. This condition can result in grave physical injuries, sometimes as critical as broken bones and muscle tears. 
Sometimes epilepsy results from cases of brain tumor, stroke, or genetic defects. It is unfortunately looked down upon as a mental condition by society. Stigma is a disease in itself that continues to stain the fabric of our society. It is high time that we paved the path for acceptance and sensitivity towards these patients.
One study looked at the connection between a Ketogenic Diet and anti-seizure activity [6]. Researchers segregated the predominant gut bacteria of children who followed a Keto Diet and experienced fewer seizures. Results found that these children had higher levels of Akkermansia muciniphila and Parabacteroides in their gut microbiome.


Parkinson’s Disease

This nervous system disorder happens progressively and can negatively impact your lifestyle. This neurological condition can begin with small tremors in the hand. Eventually, it can evolve into full-body shakes, muscle weakness, and trouble with speech patterns.
Many people are genetically predisposed to Parkinson’s Disease. However, it can develop due to prolonged exposure to environmental toxins. A recent Caltech study also linked gut bacteria to the onset of this degenerative disease [7].
Researchers noted that those who have high alpha-synuclein levels in the brain tend to have high levels of this protein in the gut. Alpha-synuclein is microscopic and grows in clusters within neurons. That can ruin conversations in the mind. 
So, scientists created a control experiment comparing mice with high alpha-synuclein levels in a germ-free environment to mice in a regular germ-laden world. Results found that the germ-free mice would grow to have less alpha-synuclein in the body. Now, scientists are going to work on determining just which bacteria are having this effect. 


Huntington’s Disease

If there was a genetic brain disease as lethal as the incarnation of evil, it is Huntington’s Disease! Armed with the symptoms of ALS, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’ Disease, Huntington’s Disease unleashes all three on the patient all at once. 
Clearly, Huntington’s Disease does not shy away from topping the list of deadly neurological conditions. While other diseases attack the elderly, Huntington’s preys on the middle-aged. In fact, the odds are stacked up so high that if one of your parents is an Huntington’s Disease patient, there is an astonishing 50% chance that you will become on, too [8].
A recent 2020 study was the first to examine the connection between gut bacteria and Huntington’s Disease. Results found that those who have worsening symptoms of Huntington’s Disease have progressively less diverse gut microbiomes. Furthermore, they tend to have an abundance of Eubacterium halli.


Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

Our immune systems aid us in fighting against foreign invaders. What if our own systems turned against parts of our bodies and destroyed them completely? Sounds like a nightmare? This nightmare is a reality for every ‘Multiple Sclerosis (MS) patient. 
Nerve fibers are like communication cables that deliver messages correctly. When the immune system begins attacking these fibers, communication throughout the spine goes haywire. People with MS may experience double vision, muscle weakness, and chronic pain.
A meta-analysis looked at the connection between MS and the gut microbiome noting,

“Gut microbes have significant impacts on metabolism and immune and neuronal responses. As a result, the microbiota can potentially affect the onset and progression of diseases defined by several effector cells and soluble metabolic, immune, and neuroendocrine factors modulated by gut microbes [9].”


While there is no cure, one can seek treatment with neurologists to manage the symptoms of ‘Multiple Sclerosis’ and prevent or postpone its recurrence.



​Our brain, just like every other part of the body, requires an adequate blood supply. When this requirement is not fulfilled for some reason, a person may suffer a stroke. Partial paralysis, loss of vision, and pneumonia are some of the permanent effects of stroke. However, living a healthy life is the key to avoiding stroke, thus epitomizing the saying that prevention is cure indeed.
A recent study looked at gut bacteria and strokes [10]. Scientists assessed abnormal clusters of blood vessels along the spine in a condition known as cavernous angiomas (CA). Researchers noted that those who had CA had more gram-negative bacteria in their microbiome.
Furthermore, scientists believe that these bacteria create lipopolysaccharides (lipids and sugars) that cause the blood vessels to cluster. These results give further credence to the importance of gut bacteria and prebiotics! 


Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy is a group of neurological disorders that impact a person’s mobility and posture. A person who develops cerebral palsy has trouble controlling their muscles. Their specific cerebral palsy condition is classified by the symptoms they endure.
Examples of cerebral palsy include:
• Spastic Cerebral Palsy – Muscle Stiffness Impairs Movements
• Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy – Have Trouble Moving Appendages
• Ataxic Cerebral Palsy – Issues with Balance and Coordination
• Mixed Cerebral Palsy – Mixture of Multiple Cerebral Palsy Conditions
Furthermore, there are subsects of spastic and dyskinetic cerebral palsy. Many of the symptoms overlap, which can make a mixed cerebral palsy diagnosis challenging. 
One study compared the gut biome of someone with this neurological disorder to those of healthy people [11]. 
Results found that those with cerebral palsy had fewer levels of the following commensal bacteria:
• Faecalibacterium
• Blautia
• Ruminococcus
• Roseburia
• Anaerostipes
• Parasutterella
Interestingly enough, those with cerebral palsy can have a diverse microbiome. It’s the abundance of specific gut bacteria that might be an issue.
Those with cerebral palsy tend to have higher levels of:
• Bifidobacterium
• Streptococcus
• Akkermansia 
• Enterococcus
• Prevotella
• Veillonella
• Rothia
• Clostridium IV 
Some of these bacteria are actually beneficial for mental health, like Akkermansia and Bifidobacterium. Experts believe, “the neurodegenerative diseases were mainly attributed to Streptococcus, while an increased risk of immune system diseases was associated with enriched Akkermansia in the CPE patients.”
The idea that Streptococcus can be damaging isn’t new news. However, mental health issues are associated with Akkermansia. These findings further shine a light on all bacterial species’ pros and cons and the importance of balance.


Using Microbiome Testing for Neurological Disorders

People often wish for the day when the word ‘cancer’ will just mean a star-sign. Inflicting pain, fear, psychological stress, and trauma are some of the traits that cancer brings along. Brain tumors are one of the more feared variants of this monstrous disease. When abnormal cells begin to take up residence in the brain, it is never good news. 
Physical symptoms include:
Speech Issues
Trouble Walking
Poor Coordination
Doctors prescribe radiation and chemotherapy in abundance, not to mention plenty of optimism. However, a recent study gives us a little more hope. 
This study suggested that Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG and Lactobacillus casei might influence the immune system to prevent inflammation that can cause cancerous growths [5]. Experts noted that this bacteria seemed to stimulate NK cells, Th1 cells, and dendritic cells that prevent cancerous cells’ growth. 


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[1] “Neurological Disorders Affect Millions Globally: WHO Report.” World Health Organization, World Health Organization, 8 Dec. 2010,
[2] Weizmann Institute of Science. “Gut Microbes May Affect the Course of ALS.” ScienceDaily, ScienceDaily, 22 July 2019,
[3] Harach, T., et al. “Reduction of Abeta Amyloid Pathology in APPPS1 Transgenic Mice in the Absence of Gut Microbiota.” Nature News, Nature Publishing Group, 8 Feb. 2017,
[4] Svoboda, Elizabeth. “Could the Gut Microbiome Be Linked to Autism?” Nature News, Nature Publishing Group, 29 Jan. 2020,
[5] Vivarelli, S., Salemi, R., Candido, S., Falzone, L., Santagati, M., Stefani, S., Torino, F., Banna, G. L., Tonini, G., & Libra, M. (2019). Gut Microbiota and Cancer: From Pathogenesis to Therapy. Cancers, 11(1), 38.
[6] University of California – Los Angeles. “Gut Bacteria Play Key Role in Anti-Seizure Effects of Ketogenic Diet.” ScienceDaily, ScienceDaily, 24 May 2018,
[7] “New Evidence Suggests Parkinson’s Might Not Start in The Brain.” The Cure Parkinson’s Trust, 28 Nov. 2019,
[8] Stricker-Shaver, J et al. “Genetic Rodent Models of Huntington Disease.” Advances in experimental medicine and biology vol. 1049 (2018): 29-57. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-71779-1_2.
[9] Kirby, T. O., & Ochoa-Repáraz, J. (2018). The Gut Microbiome in Multiple Sclerosis: A Potential Therapeutic Avenue. Medical sciences (Basel, Switzerland), 6(3), 69.
[10] “Study Ties Stroke-Related Brain Blood Vessel Abnormality to Gut Bacteria.” National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 3 June 2020,
[11] Huang, Congfu et al. “Distinct Gut Microbiota Composition and Functional Category in Children With Cerebral Palsy and Epilepsy.” Frontiers in pediatrics vol. 7 394. 1 Oct. 2019, doi:10.3389/fped.2019.00394.

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Sugar & Brain Damage

Sugar or what nutritionists refer to as Carbohydrates or Carbs is one of the most important parts of our diet. You ask why? Only because sugar is what gives us the energy to do work. Sugar is the fuel that keeps us running at the cellular level.
Glucose is one of the forms of sugar used by the body. It is crucial many cellular functions and its absence could lead to loss of consciousness and eventually death. Well, not yours, but that of the cell. This is exactly why the body has a superb mechanism in place to store all excess glucose as a reserve.
Every cell in the body needs energy in order to function. This applies to neurons too, the nerve cells that make up our brain. These cells need substantial amounts of glucose to keep them running.  And this, in turn, keeps the whole body running. In fact, the brain uses almost 20% of the total energy that the body spends each day.
Well, not only is sugar essential, it also tastes good. Like, who doesn’t want dessert after dinner tonight? Once we eat sugar, the activated taste receptors send a cascade of signals to the brain. This includes the Dopamine pathway. Dopamine is one of the 4 ‘happy hormones’ in the human body. It is a neurotransmitter which plays a major role in reward-motivated behaviour.
Now you know why you can’t resist that dessert huh!
So Glucose surely feels like unicorn and rainbow in the brain, but what is really happening? The American Heart Association recommends individuals to restrict their sugar intake to 6 – 9 teaspoons per day. But the average American consumes more than 22 teaspoons, which is in addition to the natural sugar present in the rest of the diet!! This wouldn’t matter if sugar, spice and everything nice really went hand in hand. But the problem here is that Sugar is believed to be one of the prime culprits in the rise of obesity in the US!
So how did we land ourselves in this mess?
Well, it’s the same mechanism at play. Every time we eat sugar, the brain is gushing gleefully. That sounds great, but you must remember that each time this happens the receptors slowly start getting desensitized. So the next time, you need half a teaspoon extra sugar to get the same sugar rush as last time. And the next time, just a little more. Eventually, this goes on until you’ve totally doped yourself out!
This cascading sugar-rich diet is the cause of a number of conditions that affect the human brain. Not many of us would think of sugar this way, only because of how awesome the sugar high feels. But that “Sugar High” is the elephant in the room that we all are missing.


4 Effects of Sugar on the Brain


Memory and Learning

A study done by Scott Kanoski, a professor at Perdue University showed that just three-days of increased sugar consumption results in impaired hippocampal function. The hippocampus is the part of the brain associated with learning and memory. In the course of the research,  rats were kept on a high energy diet or one that was nutritionally balanced. Meanwhile, they also had to learn how to navigate through a maze to find food at the other end. After just three-days, the rats on the sugar-rich diet were finding it harder to get to their food rewards. While the rats with a balanced diet continued navigating through the maze and finding their food without any difficulty. The hippocampus is particularly susceptible to this so-called high-energy diet.



If you paid attention to the way sugar interacts with the brain, you’d see that sugar is not just another nutrient that the body looks forward to. The response that it elicits is almost exactly like that of the body’s response to drugs. In fact, there was a study showing how sugar is just as addictive as cocaine. The dopamine response and sugar rush are strong enough to create a habit of sugar consumption and soon the person is addicted. We are seeing that addiction to foods, like sugars is so easily neglected only because it hits us at such a blind spot. “Food Addiction” is a serious problem that is soon catching up with the developed nations.


Depression and Anxiety

Once people realized how addictive sugar can be, one of the first things they try to do is break out of it. But we see that this act of breaking out of the habit is very similar to that of a drug withdrawal. People become extremely irritable and go through some horrendous mood swings before they come clean the other side. The withdrawal also includes recurring headaches, cravings, chills and loss of energy. The symptoms are so similar to that of drug withdrawal that at times it is hard to tell difference between some of the pretty hardcore drugs, and sugar.



It is seen that with long-term consumption of sugar, even the way a gene expresses itself changes. And this affects everything right up to the basic functions of the cell. High doses of artificial forms of sugar are seen to affect spatial understanding and lead to aggressive behavior. It was seen that continuous consumption of sugar from infancy to adulthood leads to increased social aggression.
Added sugar reduces BDNF, which stands for brain-derived neurotrophic factor. BDNF is a protein that plays a role in the growth and maintenance of neurons. It is usually active between nerve cells, where cells communicate with one another. Synapses or gaps between these cells adapt over time in response to experience. This is referred to as synaptic plasticity. BDNF helps regulate this synaptic plasticity which is absolutely necessary for cognitive development, learning and memory.
Sugar reduces the BDNF in the brain, which is linked to depression and dementia. More research on this subject is being conducted, but it is clear that sugar consumption is one of the worst inhibitory culprits.

So no matter what happens stay clear of Sugar cause you never know when the candy hijacks your brain and just takes you over!
Disclaimer: The above article is sponsored by Thryve, the world’s first Gut Health Program that incorporates microbiome testing and personalized probiotics to ensure a healthier gut, happier life, and a brighter future.

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The World Inside

By Rita Lim-Wilby Ph.D. (Linkedin:
Dark and mysterious, unpredictable and scary, unknown creatures within, possibly dangerous to enter. Sounds like the oceans, right? It’s also our digestive system. Our gut.
Now science is beginning to unpack the wonders and workings of our innards. Not only is our gut necessary for the enjoyment of food and nutrition, the three trillion bacteria cells within keep us free from harmful infections, supplement the nutrients we don’t put on our plates, and sometimes react in unexpected ways. From lip to the rectum, the acid/alkaline balance and proportions of water change through the day, each segment having its normal ranges and specific functions. We can think of ourselves as mini-ecosystems, hosting a multitude of environments with every turn and pulse of the involuntary muscles that keep things going, as it were.







Gut-Brain Axis

Beyond food, there is another way to think of the insides of our torso. There are more nerve cells monitoring and informing the human digestive system than there are in our brain. This network of cells is also communicating with the three trillion cells. Some call it our second brain. From the holistic medicine perspective, I would say that this is our First Brain, as it is our first line of defense against infection and comprises the center of our core. In traumatic events or certain situations, your gut feeling, or intuition, is most often the first interpreter of millions of sensory inputs coming at us each second, only a fraction of which are we aware of. The more we listen to this First Brain, the more we are in touch with our environment, inside and outside, and the more we know ourselves, as we really are.
It’s unfortunate that so much inside the digestive system is considered taboo or disgusting. If a baby burps his meal up, it’s cute. An adult? Not so much. Perhaps we can separate or discard moral judgments from bodily functions and accept that bowel movements are totally natural, essential, and can be great diagnostic tools to our conditions of health or illness.
The typical diet is not conducive to gut health. It’s rich in fatty, fried, and heavily processed foods that clog up the gut lining. As a result, we feel full from foods that are not nutrient-dense. In turn, you gain more fat around your gut lining, experience gastrointestinal distress, and may even suffer mental health issues.


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The Brain in Our Gut

By Nishant Mehta Ph.D. candidate
Our nervous system is responsible for receiving sensory impulses from all over the body, processing that information, and then transmitting signals to precisely control organ function. The billions of neurons that make up the human nervous system are finely tuned to provoke change in response to external stimuli [1]. While the power and complexity of the central nervous system (CNS) are well established, the nervous system surrounding the digestive tract is often overlooked. This complex of neurons is called the enteric nervous system (ENS) and controls the coordinated movement required for healthy digestion. Although the ENS usually works in concert with the brain and spinal cord, it also has the ability to function as an independent entity [2], justifying its colloquial name — “the second brain”.

It is all too common for people with digestive issues to hear the phrase “it’s all in your head” and repeatedly be advised to “reduce stress and anxiety”. These warnings have their roots in scientific literature, but are often overused and may not tell the full story. Support for the “all in your head” hypothesis can be found from two key experiments (among many others):
1) rats with early life stressors such as maternal separation showed higher corticosterone (stress hormone) levels and a more drastic stress response than normal rats [3] and
2) IBS patients with higher levels of chronic life stress had significantly higher symptom intensity than patients with lower stress levels [4]. A closer look at the structure of the ENS, however, adds another layer of complexity to the story.
The CNS communicates with the ENS through sympathetic and parasympathetic nerve fibers. Generally, the sympathetic nervous system is responsible for the ‘fight or flight’ response while parasympathetic activation supports the‘ rest and digest’ function [5]. One of the largest and most important linkages between the ENS and CNS is the vagus nerve, a key driver of the parasympathetic response. Interestingly, about 90% of the vagus nerve connections between the gut and the brain are afferent, meaning they send signals away from the gut and towards the brain [6]. This structural layout indicates that a significant portion of information originates in the gut and is directed towards the brain, not the other way around. In other words, sensations felt in the digestive tract have a direct line for altering your mood and mental well-being. It is no surprise then, that stimulating the vagus nerve has been found to be an effective treatment for depression [7].
What does this mean for people with digestive issues? The nervous system layout suggests your gut health can have a direct impact on your mental health. For those of us with gut problems, we know this all too well. When we are experiencing a flare-up of gut symptoms, mental problems seem to be magnified — our mood suffers and stress is more difficult to deal with. New evidence suggests that the effect of gut health on the brain goes beyond temporary mood fluctuations and is intricately tied to the gut microbiome [8].
Studies with germ-free mice (mice raised in sterile conditions with no gut bacteria)are being used to examine the effect of changing microbiota on behavior. In adult germ-free mice, mild external stress resulted in an exaggerated release of stress hormone compared to control mice with normal microbiota. This intensified stress response could be fully reversed with administration of commensal bacteria Bifidobacterium infantis [9]. Additionally, increases in chronic gut inflammation through the administration of a mouse parasite Trichus muris significantly increased anxiety-like behavior and could be reversed with anti-inflammatory drugs or probiotics [10].
The jury is still out on exactly how the gut communicates with the brain, whether through vagus nerve innervations or unknown gut-brain modes of interaction. However, a common trend has become clear: gut health ahs a causal and direct impact on mental health. Next time you hear the phrase “It’s all in your head”, remember that while reducing external stress is clearly important, gut health as a direct driver of mental well-being cannot be overlooked.
Disclaimer: The above article is sponsored by Thryve, the world’s first Gut Health Program that incorporates microbiome testing and personalized probiotics to ensure a healthier gut, happier life, and a brighter future.


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[1] R. Lent, F. A. C. Azevedo, C. H. Andrade-Moraes, and A. V. O. Pinto, “How many neurons do you have? Some dogmas of quantitative neuroscience under revision,” Eur. J. Neurosci., vol. 35, no. 1, pp. 1–9, Jan. 2012.
[2] M. Rao and M. D. Gershon, “The bowel and beyond: the enteric nervous system in neurological disorders,” Nat. Rev. Gastroenterol. Hepatol., vol. 13, no. 9, pp. 517–528, Sep. 2016.
[3] S. M. O’Mahony et al., “Early Life Stress Alters Behavior, Immunity, and Microbiota in Rats: Implications for Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Psychiatric Illnesses,” Biol. Psychiatry, vol. 65, no. 3, pp. 263–267, Feb. 2009.
[4] E. J. Bennett, C. C. Tennant, C. Piesse, C.-A. Badcock, and J. E. Kellow, “Level of chronic life stress predicts clinical outcome in irritable bowel syndrome,” Gut, vol. 43, no. 2, pp. 256–261, Aug. 1998.
[5] H. D. Critchley, “Neural mechanisms of autonomic, affective, and cognitive integration,” J. Comp. Neurol., vol. 493, no. 1, pp. 154–166, Dec. 2005.
[6] J. B. Furness, B. P. Callaghan, L. R. Rivera, and H.-J. Cho, “The enteric nervous system and gastrointestinal innervation: integrated local and central control,” Adv. Exp. Med. Biol., vol. 817, pp. 39– 71, 2014.
[7] T. E. Schlaepfer et al., “Vagus nerve stimulation for depression: efficacy and safety in a European study,” Psychol. Med., vol. 38, no. 5, May 2008.
[8] J. F. Cryan and T. G. Dinan, “Mind-altering microorganisms: the impact of the gut microbiota on brain and behaviour,” Nat. Rev. Neurosci., vol. 13, no. 10, pp. 701–712, Oct. 2012.
[9] N. Sudo et al., “Postnatal microbial colonization programs the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal system for stress response in mice,” J. Physiol., vol. 558, no. 1, pp. 263–275, Jul. 2004.
[10] M. Lyte, W. Li, N. Opitz, R. P. A. Gaykema, and L. E. Goehler, “Induction of anxiety-like behavior in mice during the initial stages of infection with the agent of murine colonic hyperplasia Citrobacter rodentium,” Physiol. Behav., vol. 89, no. 3, pp. 350–357, Oct. 2006.

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