Gut Feeling: The Microbiome and Mental Health

The gut may just hold the key to mental health and many autoimmune diseases.

| August 2018

  • Long understudied, the gut is beginning to be understood as a key player in division between disease and health, leaving scientists to go back to the drawing board to refocus on mental health and autoimmune diseases.
    Cover courtesy of New Society Publishers
  • “The Secret Life of Your Microbiome” by Susan L. Prescott, MD, PhD and by Alan C. Logan, ND with recipes from "The Gut Girl", Marlies Venier, dives into the underexplored key to health: the gut.
    Cover courtesy of New Society Publishers

The Secret Life of Your Microbiome (New Society Publishers, 2017), by Susan L. Prescott, MD, PhD and by Alan C. Logan, ND presents the scientific connection between our bodies and the microbial world and suggests that the health industry not neglect the symbiosis of microbial and human life. The book includes recipes for a healthy microbiome from "The Gut Girl", Marlies Venier, a skilled fermenter, blogger, and certified health coach. The following excerpt discusses the link between the gut, disease, and mental health from the theory of dysbiosphere, first described by John Arthur Thomson (1861-1933) as "the way life (Greek: bios) that surrounds us like a living globe (Latin: sphaera)," or "life in distress" (The Secret Life of Your Microbiome).

Shifting Psyche in the Dysbiosphere

At all hours of the day and night, just as surely as birds migrate and the Earth rotates on its axis, massive juggernauts traverse national highways and city streets. These semi-trailer trucks — 40-ton transport vessels unimaginable just a century ago — are filled to the brim with cargo that is driving dysbiosis — life in distress. Flinging open the back doors for forensic examination, we soon see the stash that is eroding life and health. Sugar-rich foods and beverages, cigarettes, ultra-processed foods, high-calorie/low-nutrient foods far removed from nature, energy drinks, and the raw material for fast food that gets assembled by workers who don’t receive a living wage are making their way to a city near you. These are all markers of a system of personal, public, and planetary health run amok. Yet, all the while, they are also our desperate attempts for a healing balm for all that ails us, along with literally truckloads of antidepressants. Distress in life serves only to increase the bloated haul.

Close to 30 million tons of sugar are hauled around the United States annually. The markers of our sedentary life — 37 million new televisions, 160 million new smartphones — scurry over interstate highways. Many more are destined for households in westernized and developing nations alike.

Psychotropic medications are increasingly prescribed to children, teens, and adults. Although prescription drugs don’t weigh much, they represent one of the most valuable commodities transported on US highways and rail routes — $914 billion per year. Despite having a per-pill weight which is next to nothing, the haul still amounts to over 200 tons of antidepressants, anti-anxiety, attention deficit, and sleep-enhancing medications. We also turn to dietary supplements to soothe us and help fill in nutritional voids — $30 billion worth of approximately 30,000 different dietary supplements in North America alone. Just one small segment of this industry — omega-3 and other fatty acids — tells a story of the sheer volume of our desire to be fixed: 120 million tons of fatty acid supplements are moved around our global transportation systems.

Then we have energy drinks. Juggernauts deliver $43 billion worth of so-called energy drinks to keep up with global demand. Experts in business marketing describe it as an unquenchable thirst for more energy; they foresee a 40 percent growth in sales and profits galore by 2020. We, on the other hand, foresee an increasingly fatigued global population trying to prop themselves up and survive the demands of modernity via the contents of little plastic bottles or large tins of packaged stimulants. Each can and bottle is interconnected to so many other issues of our time. For example, Dr. Subin Park and colleagues have found that energy drink use is linked to sleep problems, depression, suicidal ideation, and stress. They found that consuming junk food magnifies these energy drink-neuro-behavioral-emotional links.

Visualize all that global locomotion for just a moment. The colossal movement of products, the energy it takes, the planetary fatigue it induces, the pressure it places on the biodiversity we are increasingly detached from. A core theme of Secret Life is the interconnectedness of life in promoting health, which therefore cannot be removed from the interconnected forces that threaten that vital force. One by one the semi-trailers pull up to the urban loading dock, which is essentially our own gullet. Heavily supported by prodigious promissory notes written by marketers who pledge us a better life, each load brings us further away from our ancestral past.

5/27/2019 8:09:43 PM

"A professional psychic"....Really? Wait and let me check my calendar...Yes, yes it certainly is the 21st century. As Simon Baker's character on the TV show "The Mentalist" said many times "there is no such thing as a "psychic". They are modern versions of "fortune tellers" with the same objective: to scam as many people out of their hard earned money as possible. The reason they are called "mediums" is they never get any better than that...MEDIUM! It's also amazing to me that people are so ignorant of the functions of the human body. The skin, gut, kidneys, liver, etc. do a superior job of cleansing the body of toxic substances without all these "special" treatment (ex. colon cleansing) and various techniques for increasing "energy", If anyone starts talking about methods for "increasing/channeling" your energy.....RUN!

10/11/2018 6:55:42 AM

No matter what the specific mental health issue is, the feelings of grief and loss are universal in the sense that it affects the body and mind very strongly. Without proper handling, it can be difficult to move forward. It goes without saying that without becoming able to move forward life begins to come to a halt. After losing a loved one, it can be difficult for anyone to go back to their normal lives; professional and personal relationships soon suffer afterward. The good news is that it doesn't have to be that way. In fact, there are a few tips to keep in mind during this stressful, emotional time to make sure things move along smoothly. One can also consult a Professional Psychic like Martine Voyance at at for better recovery.



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