Many health conditions and psychological symptoms originate in your gut.  Around the world, millions of people believe that you are what you eat.  A more accurate description; however, would be you are what your “pets”eat.  Consider that you are, in fact, only 10% human as your microbiome (both in your gut, oral cavity, nasal passages, ear canals, and on your skin) is home to trillions of microorganisms (collectively known as your microbiome), each with its own DNA.  The collective mass of microorganisms in your gut outnumber the total number of cells in your body by at least 10 to 1.  Your microbiome weighs on average of 3-6 pounds.  These microorganisms include bacteria, yeast, fungi, protozoa, mold and parasites. The balance of these little “pets” goes a long way in determining your health.

Your gut is also where your enteric nervous system, or “second brain,” resides and is home to an abundance of neurons and produces an array of neurotransmitters.  Although capable of functioning independently, your enteric nervous system and central nervous system “talk” (i.e., via the vagus nerve) to one another all the time.  In fact, about 90% of your body’s serotonin (a feel good neurotransmitter) and 50% of your dopamine is produced in your enteric nervous system by your gut microbiome.1

People who experience various digestive disorders and psychological syndromes including food allergies and intolerances, frequent gas and bloating, diarrhea and constipation, symptoms of anxiety or depression, schizophrenia and ADHD or who suffer from auto immune conditions frequently have an imbalance of gut microorganisms; a condition known as gut dysbiosis.2,3,4

Several lifestyle factors affect how your gut functions and the health of your gut microbiome.  The SAD (standard American diet) western diet  that is full of refined sugars and processed foods, environmental xenoestrogens, stress, insufficient sleep, pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics , toxic heavy metals, and birth control pills negatively impact the health of the friendly probiotic bacteria in your gut.

Animal studies have found that the administration of antibiotics leads to a significant increase in fearful behavior.  Conversely, the addition of probiotic supplements has been found to decrease such anxious behavior.5 Human studies have also found that the administration of beneficial probiotic supplements significantly reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression.3

Therefore, it is important to make sure that you include probiotic rich fermented foods and prebiotic sources of food in your diet in order to ensure optimal health and prevent many physical and mental health problems.6  Traditionally fermented foods, like sauerkraut, kim chi, drinks like kefir and kvass are all rich sources of friendly bacteria and yeast and help to support your immune system because they contain many B vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, digestive enzymes, lactase and lactic acid, and other immune chemicals that fight off harmful bacteria and cancer cells.

Prebiotic foods  are foods that encourage the growth of beneficial  gut microorganisms and include raw onions, raw garlic, leeks, dandelion root, Jerusalem artichokes,  asparagus, Brussel sprouts, and fiber rich seeds like hemp, flax and chia seeds.  Once these prebiotics reach your colon, they stimulate the growth of bifidobacteria – probiotics that occur naturally in the human gastrointestinal tract – and other beneficial microorganisms. They also increase the absorption of calcium in your bones and teeth.

In order to support your overall health and well-being, strive to eat multiple servings of probiotic and prebiotic rich foods every week.  You may also benefit from a quality probiotic supplement.

To your health and success,

Dr. Sandoval

To learn more about how working with a clinical psychologist and holistic health coach can help you to enhance your health and well-being, call or email Dr. Sandoval to schedule a consultation.

  1.  Michael Gershon (1999).  The Second Brain: A Groundbreaking New Understandingof Nervous Disorders of the Stomach and Intestine.
  2.  Messaoudi, M, Lalonde, R, Violle, N,  Javelot, H, Desor, D, Nejdi, A,  et al.  “Assessment of psychotropic-like properties of a probiotic formulation (Lactobacillus helveticus R0052 and Bifidobacterium longum R0175) in rats and human subjects.”  (2011). British Journal of Nutrition. 105, 755–764.
  3. Neufeld, KA and Foster, JA.   “Effects of gut microbiota on the brain: Implications for psychiatry.”  (2009).   Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience. 34(3); 230-1.
  4. Natasha Campbell-McBride, M.D. (2010).  Gut and PsychologySyndrome: Natural Treatment for Autism, Dyspraxia, A.D.D., Dyslexia, A.D.H.D.,Depression, Schizophrenia.
  5. Bravo, JA, Forsythe, P, Chew, MV, Escaravage, E,  Savignac, HM, Dinan, TG, et al.  “Ingestion of Lactobacillus strain regulates emotional behavior and central GABA receptor expression in a mouse via the vagus nerve.” (2011). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 108, 16050–16055.
  6.  Jeff D Leach. (2012) Honor Thy Symbionts.

The information, published and/or made available through the website, is not intended to replace the services of a physician, nor does it constitute a physician-patient relationship. This blog is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. You should not use the information in this post for diagnosing or treating a medical or health condition. You should consult a physician in all matters relating to your health, particularly in respect to any symptoms that may require diagnosis or medical attention.  Any action on the reader’s part in response to the information provided in this blog is at the reader’s discretion.