Tasmanian Times

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Dr Anonymous

Linking the Microbiome, Diet, the Brain and Mental Health

*Pic: Medical, by Antonio Casas

Mounting evidence supports the concept that our gut is indeed the brain outside the brain, with continued exploration of the ‘gut-brain axis’ and relationships between the gut microbiome and brain function.

Research indicates there is ‘bidirectional communication between the central and enteric nervous system, linking emotional and cognitive centres of the brain with peripheral intestinal functions.’ [1] Microorganisms in the gut microbiome facilitate this process through a combination of hormonal, immunological and neurological linkages. [1]

It is not surprising to discover that alterations to the microbiome and certain gastroenterological conditions can affect pathological processes contributing to neurological and psychiatric conditions. There is an explosion of research examining the microbiomes of patients with diseases ranging from psychotic illnesses to eating disorders and dementia.

For example, one team of researchers describes an alteration in the gut microbiome in patients with Parkinsons Disease being a great decrease of the bacterium Prevotellaceae. Perhaps more interestingly is that constipation appears as a sign in these patients years before the onset of their Parkinsons Disease. [2] This demonstrates the importance of general gut health, intestinal complaints and linkages with other pathologies in the body.

Paying attention to the health of your gut could potentially affect and positively alter neurological and psychiatric conditions. In 2011 Nature published research that anxious mice fed Lactobacillus rhamnosus bacteria became ‘more chilled out’. This area of research has led to an interest in what is now termed ‘psychobiotics’ with the idea that purposely altering the microbiome with the addition of specific probiotics might be useful in treating psychiatric conditions and could potentially revolutionise psychiatric pharmacology. [4]

Your diet can influence your mental health in many ways. What you eat is important, but how much is also important. Restrictive diets can have a detrimental effect on neurotransmitters.

The neurotransmitter serotonin is manufactured in the body from an essential amino acid called tryptophan found in foods such as eggs, cheese, salmon, nuts and seeds.

Serotonin is responsible for mood and low levels have been associated with depression, suicide and aggression.

The neurotransmitter dopamine is produced from another essential amino acid tyrosine, which is also found in cheese, milk, turkey, lima beans, avocados, bananas and certain fish. Dopamine is responsible for many executive functions, motivation and arousal.

These neurotransmitters and others play a central role in the limbic system, the part of the brain regulating emotions, mood and memory.

As I mentioned in a previous article, Omega 3 fatty acids positively affect the limbic system and have been shown to play a role in regulating mood.

It is evident even the type of fat we consume in our diets as well as other foods can affect our emotional states.

In reality there are a myriad of nutritional requirements in the human diet that affects brain function. For example, the depletion of thiamine in alcoholism can lead to a confusional state known as Wernicke’s encephalopathy. Other nutritional deficiencies such as A, C, B12 and folate can lead to reversible dementia states. Iron deficiency can lead to anaemia severe enough that the brain becomes hypoxic resulting in a confusional state.

Vitamin D deficiency can cause people to feel low in mood. This is particularly important for our largely vitamin D deficient population in Tasmania. The importance of adequate nutrition cannot be underestimated.

In starvation states and states of extreme hunger, the body is lacking in the basic building blocks for creating neurotransmitters. Some of the behavioral and psychiatric changes associated with anorexia nervosa are now recognized as the pathophysiological effects of starvation. Experiments such as the famous Minnesota Starvation Experiment of 1950, examined starvation and its effects on human behavior. Participants experienced an increase in obsessional and violent behavior when starved for extended periods of time. [6]

It is easy to draw the conclusion that the gut microbiome has an impact on mental health, brain health and general health. It is important to eat a balanced diet from a neurotransmitter perspective. In medical management of conditions such as depression, eating disorders, anxiety, low mood, even problems with cognition, diet plays a role in holistic management and achieving best outcomes.

Resources …




References …

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4367209/

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25476529

[3] http://www.nature.com/news/2011/110830/full/news.2011.510.html

[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5102282/

[5] http://www.cell.com/trends/neurosciences/fulltext/S0166-2236(16)30113-8

[6] http://www.apa.org/monitor/2013/10/hunger.aspx

*Dr Anonymous is known to the Editor

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  1. Kevin Moylan

    July 25, 2017 at 3:23 pm

    IODINE deficiency is called Hypothyroidism – Cretinism. Australian Thyroid Foundation states:

    ‘Being deficient in Iodine is the greatest ‘preventable’ cause of Mental Retardation and Intellectual Disability.’ In lay terms, this means instead of having an IQ of say 127, it may be 50. Never to be employed or enjoy a full life.

    During the 1960s-70s, Tasmanian students were given (prescribed) Iodine tablets to supplement their inadequate diets. (Tasmanian soils, foods, are severely depleted of Iodine/Selinium). This was ceased when milk vats were not longer cleaned with Iodine, later came bread and Iodised salt. Crayfish is best. Iodised salt is cheap.

    Pregnant women are advised to take 150ug daily. It is critical for fetal brain and neurological development. All parents desire a cognitive and intelligent, free thinking child; all citizens deserve their best chance in life. This ‘brain damage’ is totally PREVENTABLE.

    An Iodine depleted and malfunctioning Thyroid gland, will prevent you from knowing the question or how to discover the answer. Chronic failure of Health Departments to recognise and treat Iodine Deficiency, is evidence of deliberately ‘dumbing down’ their constituents. What is it, they don’t want us to know – or to become? People or Sheeple?

  2. PHilip Lowe

    July 25, 2017 at 12:43 am

    wonderful program on BBC World Service about the Hausa people in Africa amongst whom diabetes,Parkinson’s,heart disease and all the modern diseases etc. are Virtualy unknown.Their poo contains bacteria and macrobiotics that have Virtualy become extinct Western society.Doctors are experimenting with poo transfusions into the guts of patients in an effort to re introduce these micro organisms.For all those people who are full of the wrong kind of shit there is hope.
    which other media presents a platform for this kind of information?Viva Tassie Times.

  3. Simon Warriner

    July 24, 2017 at 10:12 pm

    So there is some scientific reasoning behind the observation occasionally made that various individuals have “shit for brains”. Who would have thought it.

    And, I wonder how the pharmacological industries feel about this sort of knowledge and it’s implications. Expect the lobbying of governments to have this knowledge banned or declared at odds with codex alimentarius.

  4. pat synge

    July 24, 2017 at 12:09 pm

    Thankyou Dr A for providing more evidence of the benefits of a good, varied diet.

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