Mental Health issues, according to an increasingly number of studies examining the link between digestive health and our brains, may improve by restoring our gut health.
Probiotics + An Antidepressant = Gut-Brain Axis ReliefAre you taking an antidepressant to help you better manage your emotions, but finding that drug you’ve been prescribed isn’t working as well as it should? That’s not unusual at all given that some 60 percent of patients with a major depressive disorder (MDD) experience some issues with first-line medicines, and about a third of patients continue to have problems after more treatments. This may be a sign that your gut brain axis — the proven connection that links your brain, intestines and emotions — may need some extra help, especially if you’ve been diagnosed with an MDD. Scientists at King’s College London came to a similar gut-based conclusion after conducting a pilot study that monitored the mental and physical health of MDD patients appearing in JAMA Psychiatry.
Multi-Strain Probiotics To The RescueA small group of 46 adult patients (primarily women ages 18-55) completed a trial that compared taking an antidepressant (mainly an SSRI drug) with a multi-strain probiotic or a placebo every day for eight weeks. Interestingly, both probiotic and placebo groups experienced improvements in their symptoms, but the probiotic enjoyed even better results from week four to the end of the trial. “The gut-brain axis is a truly fascinating and rapidly evolving area of microbiome research,” says study author Dr. Viktoiya Nikolova. “The findings of this pilot study are an important step forward in our understanding of the role of probiotics in mood and mental health.” This isn’t the first time we’ve shared how effective multi-strain probiotics can be in relieving symptoms of depression, but it’s among the first to use them alongside antidepressants. Interestingly, all but one of the strains of beneficial bacteria contained in EndoMune Advanced Probiotic were ingredients contained in the probiotic used in this study. So, if you’re struggling with a MMD and are concerned it’s not working as it should, consider giving your gut-brain axis a gentle boost with the help of EndoMune.
ResourcesJAMA Psychiatry King’s College London Neuroscience News Nutraingredients Europe
Sleep Challenges, Sarcopenia and Your GutWe never get tired of reminding you how much a good night’s sleep can do for your health as a natural way to reboot your body, a lot like your home computer, to repair and restore itself after the stresses of the day. Staying up too late, following a work schedule that includes 24/7 shift duty or traveling across multiple time zones not only disrupts your body’s natural circadian clock, but it takes away valuable time your body needs to replenish itself. Over time, these sleep deficits can harm you significantly, leaving you more vulnerable to the cluster of health problems better known as metabolic syndrome. As you know, the gut plays a major role in your sleep too, and even short-term, drastic changes can harm the balance of gut bacteria you need to maintain good health. Sleep problems and gut disruptions may also play a key role in worsening sarcopenia, the age-related and progressive loss of strength and muscle mass that often contributes to functional declines especially among seniors, according to a study appearing in the journal Sleep.
Analyzing The DataA group of European researchers based these conclusions about the links between sarcopenia, gut imbalances and poor sleep based on an analysis of 11 clinical studies conducted with health patients ranging in age from 4-71. In many ways, sleep problems and gut health issues go hand-in-hand in creating an environment in which sarcopenia emerges as one more serious health challenge. At the gut level, sleep problems influence an unhealthy balance of gut bacteria that also reduces the structural integrity and functionality of the wall of the gut (which could lead to leaky gut problems). Bad sleep may also be a trigger for imbalances in gut bacteria that can also create the production of pro-inflammatory chemicals. Even one sleepless night creates an environment that favors anabolic resistance and muscle breakdown.
Muscle Growth and Your GutWe know this initial review of studies is a toe in the water when it comes to understanding the collision of gut bacteria imbalances, poor sleep and sarcopenia, yet there’s no denying the link between muscles and good gut health is a real one. Interestingly, another recent review of studies published in the Journal of Cachexia, Sarcopenia and Muscle found a very gut-healthy way to improve muscle mass and muscle strength with the help of probiotics. In fact, researchers noted significant improvements in global muscle strength among adults older than age 50 after taking a probiotic for at least 12 weeks. Also, among the strains of beneficial bacteria cited in this report included several featured in EndoMune Advanced Probiotic. There’s still a lot we don’t know about the connections between muscle growth and the gut, but we do know how a healthy gut and a good night’s sleep work hand-in-hand to give your overall health a major boost. If you need some help improving your sleep hygiene, check out our Sleep 101 article that includes many common-sense steps you can implement today to help your health and your gut too!
ResourcesSleep Nutra Ingredients USA Cleveland Clinic Journal of Cachexia, Sarcopenia and Muscle
IBS and Your Gut-Brain Axis in Conflict
A good argument can be made for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) being not only the most common condition gastroenterologists diagnose — it affects an estimated 15 percent of all Americans — but one of the most challenging ones too.
But familiarity doesn’t guarantee clarity, considering IBS comes in three different subtypes: IBS-D (diarrhea), IBS-C (constipation) and IBS-A (a mix of diarrhea and constipation).
An aspect of IBS that’s rarely explored: its potential impact on your gut-brain axis, the connection that links your brain, intestines and emotions.
So, it should come as no surprise that mental health issues are much more prevalent among IBS patients than those who aren’t, based on an analysis of data conducted by researchers from the University of Missouri.
Mental Health Challenges and IBS
Scientists collected mental health data on more than 1.2 million IBS patients hospitalized in 4,000 U.S. hospitals over a three-year period from a national database, according to the study appearing in the Irish Journal of Medical Science.
More than 800,000 IBS patients in a hospital setting experienced symptoms of anxiety (38 percent overall) or depression (27 percent overall) at rates more than double the norm compared to people without IBS.
Overall, the prevalence of those problems plus bipolar disorder, suicidal attempts/ideation and eating disorders was significantly higher than the general adult population.
This is where the gut-brain axis comes into play, says Dr. Zahid Ijaz Tarar, lead researcher and assistant professor of clinical medicine at the University of Missouri. “Medical professionals need to treat both ends of the axis.”
“I frequently tell my patients who have IBS that, if they have any type of psychologic stress, it will get expressed in some form or another,” says Yezaz Ghouri, senior author and assistant professor of clinical medicine and gastroenterology at the University of Missouri.
Given that at least 90 percent serotonin your body produces is generated in the gut and specific bacteria play key roles in producing it, disruptions from IBS or other gut health issues do matter.
Solutions For Treating IBS and Gut-Brain Axis
If you suffer from IBS and have emotional challenges because your gut-brain axis is out of balance, plenty of good options are available that help out on both fronts.
For example, cleaning up your diet, devoting some time each week to exercise and paying attention to your sleep can do a lot of good.
If managing your stress becomes a challenge, your physician may want to prescribe an antidepressant drug like a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) like fluvoxamine or an older tricyclic drug like amitriptyline.
You’ll also want to consider taking a probiotic, a proven and effective non-drug solution that helps your gut and brain at the same time. But not just any probiotic will do…
A probiotic formulated with proven strains from the Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus families, like those contained in EndoMune Advanced Probiotic, can go a long way toward relieving your IBS and rebalancing your gut-brain axis safely and effectively.
How Poor Sleep Affects Your Gut
It’s hard to imagine people who are more sleep-deprived and really need their rest the most than those who serve in our military.
Sleep schedules often turn around on a dime from around-the-clock duty cycles to long periods of rest and relaxation, depending on the day and the mission at hand.
Even for those of us who aren’t active duty service men or women or first responders, big shifts to sleep schedules (like shift work) create problems for our circadian clocks that help us regulate many parts of our lives, including our body temperature, the way we digest food and the health of our gut.
Even short-term but drastic changes to sleep patterns can alter the composition of bacteria in the gut, according to a recent study appearing in Scientific Reports.
Nineteen healthy service members between ages 17-45 who had previously followed normal sleep schedules and hadn’t taken antibiotics for three months or probiotics and other supplements for two weeks participated in the trial.
Soldiers were randomly selected for three-day periods of healthy sleep (7-9 hours) or unhealthy sleep (two hours per night) separated by up to a 21-day break (depending on which rest interval came first). Diets were monitored as were periods of exercise and stool samples were taken after each service member woke up for the final day of each three-day sleep period.
It wasn’t surprising that restricted sleep reduced the diversity of bacteria in the gut, but it was the actual amount — an estimated 21 percent over just three days — that grabbed the attention of researchers.
Imagine the harm done to the human gut over much longer periods, especially for first responders in pressure situations that last for weeks on end.
Follow Our Sleep Protocol
Fortunately, there’s lot you can do to ease any challenges with sleep and we address some of the basics in our Sleep 101 feature where we recommend an easy-to-follow protocol (which doesn’t include melatonin).
One additional step you can take that will make a big difference in your sleep: Make sure your diet is rich in prebiotics, foods that contain non-digestible plant fibers and carbohydrates that feed the bacteria in your gut.
If you’re not getting enough prebiotic-rich foods (apples, oats, garlic and onions), skip the melatonin, follow our sleep protocol and be sure to take a prebiotic-rich, multi-strain probiotic like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic.
Nourish by WebMD
Enhance Mental Health With Multi-Strain Probiotics, Antidepressants
Modern medicine has really warmed up over the years to acknowledging the existence of the gut-brain axis, the vital connection that links your brain, emotions and intestines.
This relationship has become so familiar and accepted, modern medicine has begun to explore how probiotics may become an important tool in support of standard treatments for major depressive disorder (MDD), better known as depression.
That’s important, considering two-thirds of all patients don’t respond well initially to antidepressants, and nearly 30 percent of treatment-resistant patients experience additional symptoms when receiving specialized treatments.
Scientists at the University of Basel cited those downbeat numbers when sharing the very positive results of their study appearing in Translational Psychiatry that showed how multi-strain probiotics can make a real impact of the mental health of patients grappling with depression.
The Gut-Brain Axis Difference
Forty-seven patients completed the trial that compared mental health scores based on taking a multi-strain probiotic or a placebo in addition to their usual treatments for 31 days.
(Four of the eight strains of bacteria in the multi-strain probiotic used in this study are contained in EndoMune Advanced Probiotic, including ones from the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium families.)
Although symptoms of depression decreased among all patients, researchers observed a greater 55 percent improvement among those taking a multi-strain probiotic, not only in mental health scores but maintaining an abundance of good gut bacteria.
What’s more, the beneficial effect of taking a probiotic was observed in a reduction of neural activity in the portion of the brain that influences some motor behaviors and modes of learning known as the putamen.
One caveat to these good positive findings that most would expect: Levels of those health-promoting bacteria dropped four weeks after the end of the study, making scientists wonder if roughly a month was time enough to stabilize a patient’s gut and their gut-brain axis.
Taking a probiotic is a great non-drug solution for treating persistent health problems ranging from depression to irritable bowel syndrome.
The way to get the most out of any probiotic, like EndoMune, is to take it every day, and if you need some tips on taking one, check out our recently updated how-to basics for all age groups and the four good reasons why probiotics make such an important impact on your health.
Your Baby’s Developing Gut-Brain Axis
As adults, we know our gut-brain axis — the connection that links our brain, intestines and emotions — is working and when it isn’t.
When those signals between the brain and gut get scrambled, something as simple as eating a highly processed, fast-food diet creates disruptions in the delicate balance of bacteria in our guts that can soon lead to obesity and lots more stress in our lives.
You may be surprised to learn that the gut-brain axis is at work even at the beginning of our lives as infants, and it’s noticeable when it isn’t.
If you’re a new mom who wonders why her newborn may be more fearful and fussier than you expected, it may be linked to the diversity of your baby’s gut and how it may shape their developing gut-brain axis.
The Fear Factor
Looking for new ways to support healthy neurological development, researchers at Michigan State University and the University of North Carolina teamed up for a study to compare fearful reactions experienced by infants to the balance of bacteria in their developing microbiomes.
Reacting to fearful things is a normal part of infant development. But, when those responses continue even in safe situations, that could signal an elevated risk of your baby developing anxiety and depression later on in life, says Dr. Rebecca Knickmeyer of Michigan State, leader of the study published in Nature Communications.
To learn how infant gut microbiomes were connected to the fear response, investigators conducted a year-long study with 30 infants who were breastfeeding and hadn’t been prescribed antibiotics.
Scientists evaluated the mix of gut bacteria based on stool samples taken from infants at 1 month and 12 months and assessed their fear responses with a simple test: Watching how each baby reacted when a stranger entered a room wearing a Halloween mask.
Parents were with their babies the whole time and they could jump in whenever they wanted, Knickmeyer says. “These are really the kinds of experiences infants would have in their everyday lives.”
No surprise, newborns who were more fearful at age 1 had very noticeable imbalances in gut bacteria at 1 month compared to those whose microbiomes remained stable. But that’s not all.
Using MRI imaging of those children’s brains, researchers discovered the diversity or lack of it in their developing guts was linked to the size of their amygdala, the sector of the brain responsible for making quick decisions about potential threats.
The Future Of Your Baby’s Gut
The results of this report highlight how important it is to protect the balance of bacteria in your baby’s gut, even when they breastfeed, and avoid antibiotics, for the sake of their developing gut-brain axis.
This may be a good time to talk to your pediatrician about giving your baby’s gut some extra help in the form of a probiotic
If you’re looking for an easy-to-use probiotic with the right mix of beneficial bacteria from the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium families plus a prebiotic that feeds the good guys in their gut, we hope you’ll consider EndoMune Jr. Powder.
Just a half-teaspoon of EndoMune Jr. sprinkled in your baby’s formula or added to soft foods (when your baby is ready) once a day can make a healthy difference.
Mild Cognitive Impairment: Your Gut, Your Brain and Probiotics
Given our existing knowledge of the gut-brain axis — the connection that links your intestines, emotions, and brain — it was only time before modern science would examine how the microbiome and human mind work together in other ways.
Lately, a growing number of researchers are studying the effect of the microbiome on mild cognitive impairment (MCI), a stage between the typical cognitive decline due to normal aging and dementia.
Nearly a fifth of people age 60 or older live with MCI, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Generally, the cognitive shifts associated with MCI are noticeable, but don’t limit a patient’s ability to do daily tasks.
Fortunately, MCI doesn’t always lead to Alzheimer’s and cognitive changes may improve in time and, occasionally, it can be misdiagnosed due to a drug side effect.
Based on what we’ve learned from a pair of recent studies, the health of the human gut may provide some clues about MCI and a possible treatment with the help of probiotics.
The Bad News: Gut Bacteria Imbalances
One of the first signs of trouble with gut health are imbalances in the microbiome. Based on a comparative analysis of fecal samples, a group of Chinese researchers spotted noticeable differences in gut bacteria between healthy patients and those with MCI in a study appearing in the Journal of Immunology Research.
On the plus side, MCI patients had significantly more of some strains from the Staphylococcus genus than the healthy controls. That may be problematic, given that another Staphylococcus strain has been linked to neurodegeneration, a deterioration of neuronal structures leading to cognitive problems and dementia.
On the minus side, those with MCI had reduced levels of Bacteroides strains, in line with previous research connecting them to Alzheimer’s. In fact, Chinese scientists recommended that these Bacteroides strains could be used as potential microbiome markers for MCI or Alzheimer’s.
The Good News: Probiotics
Fortunately, there may be a silver lining to all of this bad gut bacteria news with the help of a probiotic.
Japanese researchers compared the effect of a probiotic formulated with a proprietary strain of Bifidobacterium breve to a placebo on 80 healthy older MCI patients in a Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease report.
(Bifidobacterium breve is one of the 10 strains of beneficial bacteria contained in EndoMune Advanced Probiotic.)
After both MCI groups took a probiotic or placebo for 16 weeks, researchers measured cognitive functions with a battery of standard tests.
No surprise, patients who took a probiotic achieved significantly higher scores in relation to immediate memory, visuospatial functioning (tasks like buttoning a shirt, assembling furniture or making a bed), and delayed memory.
These studies are merely the beginning of many as science looks to stem the tide of memory issues that surface with MCI and measure how well non-drug therapies like probiotics will perform in the real world.
One thing is certain: Taking a daily probiotic, especially a multi-species product like EndoMune supports your gut-brain axis, improves your mood, alleviates stress and helps you get the restful sleep your body needs naturally, safely, and without a drug.
Sleep 101: Your Gut Health Matters
Whether it’s working longer hours, traveling across time zones, catching up on your favorite book or late-night doom-scrolling on your phone, getting a good night’s sleep remains a serious challenge for many people.
Any one of these aforementioned variables can disrupt your circadian clock (the human body’s natural sleep-wake schedule), stealing precious time your body needs to “reboot” and repair itself from the rigors of daily living.
Over time, these disruptions to your sleep may create vulnerabilities to serious health problems like the cluster of symptoms that lead to stroke, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease better known as metabolic syndrome.
Did you know your gut health plays an important role in helping you get the sleep you need too?
The Prebiotic Solution
Previously, we’ve shared the results of a report from the University of Colorado about the benefits of prebiotics, the unsung heroes of gut health, related to sleep.
Made of non-digestible plant fibers and carbohydrates, prebiotics do a lot of work behind the scenes to feed the bacteria living in your gut.
Researchers at the University of Colorado were tasked by the Office of Naval Research to learn how prebiotics could ease disruptions in the body-clock from irregular work schedules, jet lag, and a lack of daily exposure to sunlight.
These challenges are a daily reality for military personnel, especially those who work on submarines for months at a time, says lead study author Dr. Robert Thompson.
First, scientists fed two groups of rats regular food or chow enhanced with two prebiotics, then manipulated their light-dark cycles (creating the stressful effect of traveling to a new time zone 12 hours ahead) each week over two months.
No surprise, the addition of prebiotics made a healthy difference, helping test animals more quickly adjust their sleep-wake cycles and core body temperatures (a problem when the body’s internal clock is disrupted).
What’s more, the gut health of animals fed prebiotics generated an abundance of health-promoting bacteria and resisted changes in gut flora related to stress and jet lag.
Gut Health and Good Sleep Hygiene
There’s lots of ways to improve your rest through good sleep hygiene. Here’s a few common-sense suggestions from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.
- Maintain a consistent sleep schedule.
- Establish a relaxing bedtime routine.
- Turn off any tablets or phones at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
- Keep your bedroom at a cool, comfortable temperature.
Adding a prebiotic to your diet may seem simple, given that a lot of vegetables (leeks, asparagus, garlic, onion, corn and bananas) contain rich amounts of them, but doing it consistently and daily can be challenging.
Fortunately, you can give your sleep a healthy and natural prebiotic advantage — along with the health of your gut — by taking a proven probiotic like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic with 10 strains of beneficial bacteria and the proven prebiotic Fructooligosaccharides (FOS).
Gut-Brain Axis 101: The Gutsy Link to Your Emotions
How often do you make decisions based on a gut feeling during the day? And, do you notice butterflies in your stomach when you do make them?
We’re not exactly sure about the origins of those sayings but it seems as if we have known about the gut-brain axis — the connection that links the brain, intestines and emotions — for a very long time.
Although its existence had been debated in the past, that became impossible once modern medicine proved some 90 percent of serotonin (a neurotransmitter chemical that governs mood) in the body originates in the human gut, and specific bacteria play important roles in producing it.
The gut and brain are linked by the enteric nervous system (ENS), a network of 100 million nerve cells that line the gastrointestinal tract from the esophagus down to the rectum. Although the ENS doesn’t “think,” it transmits signals between the gut and brain.
Unfortunately, we begin to notice the gut-brain axis in our lives when these two-way signals become scrambled due to disruptions in the healthy balance of gut bacteria due to variables like a poor diet that lead to more stress and less restful sleep.
The good news: There are safe and effective tools you can use to bring balance to your gut and calm your brain.
Protecting Your Gut-Brain Axis At Work
The world of information technology (IT) — encompassing everything from information processing to building computers and websites like this one — is known for the high-pressure, 24/7 demands it places on its workforce.
Given those many stressors, a team of Chinese scientists investigated how to create more emotional stability to IT workers via the gut-brain axis with the help of a daily probiotic.
Out of 90 recruits, 36 IT workers (ages 20-60) met the criteria to participate in an eight-week trial, largely based on high initial stress test scores.
During the trial, workers took a probiotic containing a proprietary strain of Lactobacillus plantarum (one of the 10 strains of beneficial bacteria contained in EndoMune Advanced Probiotic).
After the testing period, stress test scores dropped significantly in terms of self-perceived stress, depression and overall negative emotions as well as gastrointestinal problems.
Additionally, scientists also noted a decrease in cortisol (the body’s primary stress hormone) with a coordinated increase in positive emotions with IT workers taking a probiotic.
The Gut-Brain Health Solution
You can tell the popularity of the gut-brain axis has grown by leaps and bounds given all of the new attention by medical experts looking for alternatives for the alarming rise of prescription drugs to treat anxiety, depression and insomnia just during the coronavirus pandemic.
Making lifestyle changes in the form of eating healthier diets full of nutrient-dense foods rich in dietary fiber and getting more sleep really do matter, but those aren’t the only tools at your disposal if you want to keep your gut-brain axis working as it should.
Taking one more precaution — a probiotic — gives your gut-brain axis the extra protection you need, especially on those extra-long workdays from home or at the office.
Make sure that any probiotic you select contains proven, lab-tested strains of beneficial bacteria and a prebiotic, made from non-digestible plant fibers and carbohydrates that feed the good guys in your gut (they may help you fight cancer too).
It really takes a community of beneficial bacteria and prebiotics to protect your gut-brain axis. That why EndoMune Advanced Probiotic is formulated with 10 strains and 30 BILLION CFUs of beneficial bacteria from the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium families, plus the prebiotic FOS.