I’ll be discussing a topic that’s very interesting, the Brain-Gut connection.
What is the Brain-Gut Connection?
The Brain-Gut Connection refers to the physical and chemical connections between your brain and gut consisting of millions of nerves and neurons.
Have you ever heard the saying “I had a “gut feeling” that something was wrong”? The brain and gut actually communicate with each other. There are chemicals called neurotransmitters that are important for your nerve cells and brain to function.
What is Serotonin?
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter responsible for improving mood and positive feelings. 90% of serotonin comes from your gut.
What does this have to do with Anxiety?
Well, your gut consists of an environment made up of microorganisms called a microbiome. Some of these microorganisms or gut bacteria species can create neurotransmitters. Along with most serotonin; about half of all dopamine comes from this environment.
Serotonin is responsible for our good mood and positive feelings. When our microbiome is disrupted studies show that the amount of serotonin declines.
- Increased Anxiety
- Depressed Mood
- Impulsive Behavior
- Poor Memory
Mental Disorders linked to Low Serotonin:
- Panic Disorder
- Eating Disorders
- Social Anxiety
- Parkinson’s Disease
Can the overuse of Antibiotics disrupt the Brain-Gut Connection?
Antibiotics are prescribed for a bacterial infection. If used properly they are a lifesaver, but if they are overused problems can occur. Overuse of antibiotics can disrupt the gut microbiome and cause gut dysbiosis and dysfunction. The decline in beneficial gut bacteria has been linked to increased anxiety and depression.
Antibiotics have been given to livestock on industrial farms for years. When we eat meat products like poultry, beef and pork we are exposing ourselves to more antibiotics than what we actually need.
What is Industrial Farming?
Industrial farming or factory farming is a type of intensive form of agriculture that refers to the industrialized production of livestock, poultry, fish and crops that maximizes production and keeps prices low.
What are the Pros and Cons of Industrial Farming?
The Pros of Industrial Farming include:
- Lower Food Prices: Due to industrial farming allowing for producing agricultural products on a large scale it results in lower prices for consumers.
- Automated Food Production: Automation in the form of mechanization has resulted in fewer hours being worked in order to produce more product.
- Can Be Established Almost Anywhere: Since larger farms are more resilient to changes in the environment, water access and location they can be located on marginal lands that are unused or underused in order to increase food production.
- Lengthen Food Availability: New and existing technologies such as refrigeration has allowed for the lengthening of food availability.
Cons of Industrial Farming Include:
- Use of Antibiotics: Antibiotics promote growth, increase feed efficiency and reduce mortality in indoor poultry farming, however antibiotic use in farming has led to the increase in antibiotic-resistance in humans and when these products are consumed the microbiome in the gut is damaged. Along with declining mental health a damaged gut has also been linked to obesity.
- Use of Chemicals: Large scale industrial farming requires the use of chemicals such as pesticides and fertilizers.
- Requires a lot of Water: Unsustainable amounts of water are required to produce on such a large scale.
- Encourages Animal Diseases to Mutate into Human Diseases: The e. coli bacteria occurs in the intestinal tracts of all warm-blooded animals and it occurs in a benign form, however the overuse of antibiotics can result in pathogenic forms of e. coli that can cause humans to get sick.
- Animal Cruelty: Due to the intense scale of production that includes overcrowded living conditions and overall lower quality of life for animals industrial farming is known for animal cruelty.
I went on to a Facebook forum and asked other people the same question about the overuse of antibiotics and I received some testimonials.
“Just finished a course of amoxicillin and felt like a dark cloud is hanging over me that can’t shake and that just doesn’t seem like me”!
“This makes sense to me. I have acute anxiety disorder since I was 13. Before that I took antibiotics 5 times a day with milk then in my teens I started getting a once a month antibiotic shot”!
What can you do?
I’ve found it helpful to take a probiotic along with the medication that I take for anxiety. I still had symptoms of anxiety and depression along with weight gain. Not all probiotics are created equal the one I take specifically for anxiety and depression is from “Garden for Life: Mood+digestive+immune system”. Other things that help gut health is a high fiber diet, eating fewer carbohydrates and eating less sugar.
Since I started taking a probiotic my mood has significantly better, my appetite has gotten under control and I no longer crave carbs. It’s also helpful to take probiotics after being treated for an illness with antibiotics in order to encourage the good bacteria that puts us all in a better mood.
What do you think? Leave me a comment!