Category: Nutrition

Can the gut dictate your emotional state?

Gut Feelings

Our emotional responses to everyday events are governed and influenced by many factors, including our past experiences, upbringing, and medications. But can the foods we eat play a role in our emotions?

In a recent study published in the journal Gastroenterology, researchers at UCLA demonstrated that daily consumption of a fermented milk product containing five different strains of probiotic bacteria actually changed the brain’s emotional response to various stimuli, as measured on an advanced brain imaging technique called functional MRI.

Think of it. Changing the composition of the bacteria living in the gut caused a profound change in how the brain responded to its environment!

The authors stated in their conclusion:

Even though a possible relationship between the gut microbiota profile and mood has been postulated based on preclinical data, and a recent report in (irritable bowel syndrome) patients provides further support for such a hypothesis, this study is the first to demonstrate an effect of (fermented milk product) intake on gut–brain communication in humans.

The implications of this study are profound. It means that, to some degree, how we see the world is influenced by the bacteria for whom our intestines are home. These organisms, called our microbiome, are influenced not only by the foods we eat and the probiotics we consume, but other important and modifiable factors like drinking chlorinated water and taking antibiotics for the slightest sniffle.

We are just at the beginning of this fascinating journey exploring the connection between the brain and the gut.

For more information, order your copy of Grain Brain today and join Dr. Perlmutter’s email list.

  • Bill

    As a result of going on the diet after the fast, every day I have serious constipation. I am eating lots of veggies and some chicken, Salmon, meat, or eggs with each meal with no carbs. What can I do to stop it?

    • SusieQue

      How about almonds and walnuts?

      • Lisbeth Laursen

        I was just thinking of suggesting magnesium. As a supplement it is best to use a chelated form of magnesium (malate or (bis-)glycinate according to Chris Kresser.

        • mesmereyes

          Magnesium citrate softens stools and promotes regularity. It is sold in drug stores as a laxative for a couple dollars (most cost effective is a powder you mix with H20 or juice — NOW and other supplement manufacturers sell it). The R.D.I. for magnesium is 450 mg./day for adults — difficult to get from foods alone which explains why most Americans are deficient in this critical mineral. You can also buy inexpensive magnesium chloride flakes and make your own “magnesium oil” (called that because it feels slippery) and apply it on your skin, which will absorb it.

    • Sam

      Are you on a pro biotic? If not, start one. If so, then try changing your pro biotic – i know for my kids, some of them cause constipation and some make them regular, you just have to try them and find what works for you. Drink lots of water too.

    • Janet

      Bill, make sure you’re eating enough oils… nuts, seeds, avocado, coconut oil, & olive oil.

    • M

      It sounds like your fat consumption might be quite low. Try upping it by adding: grass fed ghee, coconut oil, other rendered fats, avocado, and fattier cuts of (pastured/grassfed/etc…) meat.

    • BB

      gut flora will change with dietary change. You probably need a good probiotic to reseed your gut with a more healthy distribution of flora.

    • Lynn Dell

      Bill, we had the same issue, both my husband and I did. We found lots of kale and spinach to help, also psyllium fiber, and lots of water. The green leafy veggies really have to be ramped up, in our case

    • Lilac

      Try Kefir. Works wonders for constipation. If you like it, you can learn to make your own, which is easy. (see culturesforhealth.com)

  • Brenda

    I am alergic to milk 🙁 So, I take a calcium chew daily 🙂

  • Trudy

    Not sure I understand all this but we are to have milk products as in cream? yogurt?

    • David Perlmutter

      see my comment about the intent of the article

  • fred tully

    (49% cross-block covariance; P = .004) Yah OK. P less than 0.05 was considered non-significant when I took statistics, but what do I know.

    • guest

      you mean greater than .05? Easy mistake, I’m sure it’s been a while 🙂

  • Rocky Webster

    This research falls in line with the Gut and Psychology Syndrome described by Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride.

  • Nancy Breiman

    Arbonne makes a fantastic probiotic and prebiotic together, all plant based.Supplement Facts
    Serving Size 1 stick pack (4.65 g)
    Servings Per Container 30
    Amount % Daily
    Per Serving Value†
    Calories 15
    Total Fat 0 g 0%
    Total Carbohydrate 4 g 1%
    Dietary Fiber 1 g 5%
    (Chicory) Fructooligosaccharides 1,250 mg **
    Peppermint (Mentha piperita) (leaf) extract powder (10:1) 300 mg **
    Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) (flower) extract powder (10:1) 50 mg **
    Bacillus coagulans (GBI-30 6086) 74 Million CFU/serving 37 mg **
    Arbonne Enzyme Blend 330 mg **
    Protease, Amylase, Invertase, Bromelain (Ananas comosus) (stem) powder, Papain (Carica papaya)
    (fruit) powder, Acid Maltase, Glycoamylase, Lactase, Alpha‑galactosidase, Peptidase, Lipase.
    † Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.
    **Daily Value not established.

  • Lynn Dell

    When one makes many changes at once, and sees positive effects, it’s hard to know which change, or combination thereof, had the biggest impact on each positive effect. But I started probiotics separately from the other grain brain supplements, and noted that I felt calmer and could sleep better at night almost right away.

  • Brad

    Are we talking about Candita?

  • Joe Texan

    Is the extracted nicotine used in ecigs much different from caffine? Are all stimulants pretty much the same like coca leaves used for making tea?

    • David Perlmutter

      the receptors for the various stimulants you mention are all different with profoundly differing effects on mood

      • Joe Texan

        Thank you. It is very considérate of you to respond to posts. I listened to your 90 interview with Robb Wolf on the internet and it was informative.

  • May

    I wish this message was more straight forward…what is/are fermented milk products? And exactly what creates the ‘blue’ feeling referred to in the article’s topic? I assume it means that yeast overgrowth/candida causes depression in some people. Another question, if we take a probiotic and still eat sugar/wheat, will theses foods cancel the positive effects of the probiotic? I am a true sugar addict and am looking for answers. Its been a very frustrating situation for me for a long time.

    • Lisbeth Laursen

      You might like to read the book “GAPS – Gut and Psychology Syndrome” by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride. Or see her websites. http://www.gapsme.com is a good place to start, I find. Best regards

    • David Perlmutter

      I’m quite familiar with this work, and you’re correct. Both resources are delivering the same message.

    • Rebekka

      May, water kefir might be a good option for you. It is made with sugar water but the sugars are mostly metabolised by the culture. It will both satisfy your need for something sweet and provide tons of good bacteria. Start slow because the regeneration of good gut flora often causes one to become gassy for months and you might experience some minor detox – but that’s not common. You could also take a good probiotic at the same time to speed up the process. Try stay away from baking yeast and refined flour. Fermented milk products are yoghurt, butter milk, soured thick milk. Milk kefir is probably the best source of probiotic cultures and you can use as little as a table spoon a day in a smoothie if you don’t enjoy it, and will still be of notable benefit.

  • David Perlmutter

    So to be clear – there isn’t a take home therapy offered by this information, but it does reveal the profound relationship between the gut and mood.

  • Linda Hughes

    Is it possible for probiotics to cause lightheadedness if you aren’t overweight or diabetic and have low blood pressure to begin with?

  • Linda Hughes

    Can taking probiotics cause lightheadedness if you’re not overweight or diabetic and you have low blood pressure?

  • Laura

    I second the GAPS (Gut & Psychology Syndrome) recommendations. I have been doing the GAPS Intro protocol for 8 months – slow and steady changes work well for me. I started making my own GAPS yogurt: fermented for 24 hours and I use 1/2 organic, grain-fed, whole milk and 1/2 organic, grain-fed cream (the high-fat works for me-I would do 100% cream but I can’t afford it. Boy is it GOOD!).

    The 24-hour ferment rids the milk of its milk sugars and also alters the milk proteins to make them digestible AND it gives you way more probiotics than ANY commercial yogurt (some are only fermented for an hour and they add back IN powdered milk (unfermented milk sugars) or re-heat the yogurt (!), which, of course, kills all the probiotics. Many add sugar (!) )

    I visited the dairy of a regionally-known, organic, bio-dynamic yogurt maker with Swiss, grass-fed cows …and even they only ferment for 7 hours.

    Dr. Campbell-McBride states that – for those children or adults who are extremely sensitive to milk sugars and/or proteins – they can ferment for up to 30, or, I have even read, 32 hours. Talk about packin’ in your probiotics!

    My 24-hour GAPS yogurt has become an essential medicine for me. I ran out for a week and my mild depression and mild anxiety crept back in. The gut-brain connection is very real and there are very real things we can do, as Dr. Perlmutter states, to improve upon and heal this connection.

    In addition to 24-hour yogurt, I also drink H2O with a tsp apple cider vinegar (before meals) and eat fresh, probiotic sauerkraut after each meal and drink homemade kombucha tea & take probiotic tabs. Gotta keep the probiotics up on a daily …no, on an every-meal… basis!

    BTW, if you decide to do the GAPS protocol, be sure to do the recommended (essential) detox baths (epsom salt or sea salt or baking soda or clay…). As you change your gut & gut-brain connections you will begin letting go of toxins. I find the baths very helpful.

    Thanks so, so much for your work …those of us with brain issues, brain injuries, depression, anxiety, OCD, MS, CFS/FM, migraines, and a whole host of mental health issues, need your research, your perspective, your detailed dietary information, and your advocacy (within a dysfunctional health care system that does NOT often help us and, in fact, often harms us) so we can get what we need to heal. Your book, Grain Brain, is simply awesome.

    Dr. Perlmutter, any chance you can contact the researchers and have them repeat the yogurt test with a 24-hour ferment, organic, grass-fed, 100% cream yogurt? Or design a different test with this same yogurt?

  • Karel Creason

    I need clarification: I don’t understand the “eat liberally” list versus keeping carbs to 30/40 per day. For example, 1/4 cup of some nuts is 8 or 9 carbs, but nuts are healthy fats and allowed in liberal amounts. While we don’t need to count calories or fat grams, the book doesn’t make it clear that all foods need to be checked for their carb counts, even those to be eaten liberally. I haven’t done this correctly, I know, as I have been gaining weight so far. What is the rule?

    • David Perlmutter

      These can enjoyed, but should still be factored into your daily carb count of 50-60 grams/day.

      • Karel Creason

        Thank you, Dr. Perlmutter. But what about the carbs in vegetables?

        • David Perlmutter

          All count towards your daily carb load.

  • Karel Creason

    Information I saw in The Seattle Times today (4-13-14) supports Dr. Perlmutter’s views regarding a high-fat, low carb diet. Since I have been on board with this philosophy for some time, I am always glad to see support for it in the mainstream information channels. Way to go, Dr. Perlmutter!

  • Atlatlone

    Resistance starch

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