Can Your Gut Make You Mentally Ill?

Years ago, a group of researchers started referring to the human gut as a “second brain.” They discovered a relationship between the health of the digestive tract and headaches, stress, depression, and even cognitive decline.

Turns out, there’s “brain tissue” in your gut… it’s known as the enteric nervous system.

Today, there’s new evidence this connection between your gut and your brain is even more powerful than we suspected.

And every bite of food you take makes an impact on both.

Let me explain.

The Schizophrenic Mice Became “Sane”… The Healthy Mice Acted Schizophrenic

Many people with schizophrenia also suffer from digestive disorders. Now we know why.

To study the connection, researchers took mice with gut microbiomes like those observed in schizophrenics and transferred them into healthy mice.

The healthy mice began to show signs of schizophrenia.

Switching the microbiomes of the healthy mice to the sick ones resulted in the sick showing signs of improvement.1

This remarkable study shows the power of your gut to influence your mental health.

And it’s no surprise individuals suffering from schizophrenia have shown improvement in their symptoms when treated with probiotics.2

Missing gut microbes and the presence of harmful ones have also been linked to depression.3

Keep Your Thinking Clear… Your Memory Strong… Your Mood Positive…

If you’re a regular reader, you know the right probiotics are essential in our modern world.

But pre-biotics are another piece of the puzzle…

So consider this:

Everything you eat is a prebiotic.

Every bite you take either feeds good, health-promoting probiotic species…

Or it feeds bad pathogenic bacteria.

Eating a varied, organic, and Paleo or Keto diet supplies the “good guys” with an environment they’ll thrive in. Eat processed foods with little fiber and nutrients and you feed bacteria that will make you sick.

And that has a profound and immediate effect on your mental health.

Restore and Protect Gut Health With These 5 Foods

  • Bone broth. Homemade bone broth contains gelatin, glutamine and glycine — all known to ease inflammation and calm and soothe the digestive tract. A rich, homemade bone broth is ideal, but you can find bone broth powders if you don’t have time to make your own.
  • Peppermint. I like to grab a leaf of this ancient digestive aid from my garden and chew on it. You can find peppermint plants in most garden centers. Most grocers also sell fresh peppermint leaves. You can chew on the leaves or mash them up with a little warm water for a soothing herbal tea.
  • Pineapple. With pineapple, you get both fiber and a powerful digestive enzyme, bromelain. Fiber will promote a healthy microbiome while bromelain will help break down food and waste in your gut. When pineapple gets that sweet flavor, it’s at its best for your gut.
  • Fennel. You can eat the bulb, stem, and leaves of fennel. I like to mix the leaves into a salad for a refreshing flavor. Add the stem and bulb to stews or you can even eat them raw.
  • Yogurt. When buying yogurt, make sure you buy ones that have live cultures. Pasteurized yogurt won’t have them. If you can, choose plain as it doesn’t have the sugars and artificial flavorings. You can always add a little sugar on your own when you eat it if you like that sweetness, or my personal favorite, mix it with granola.

To Your Good Health,

Al Sears, MD, CNS

1. Zheng P, et al. “The gut microbiome from patients with schizophrenia modulates the glutamate-glutamine-GABA cycle and schizophrenia-relevant behaviors in mice.” Sci Adv. 2019;5(2):eaau8317.
2. Golofast B and Vales K. “The connection between microbiome and schizophrenia.” Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2020;108:712-731.
3. Valles-Colomer M, et al. “The neuroactive potential of the human gut microbiota in quality of life and depression.” Nat Microbiol. 2019;4:623–632.