Blaming a Bad Mood on Gut Issues
Currently four days into an IBS inflammation flare-up, I'm officially down in the dumpers. I've been sipping all the peppermint tea, salty bathing it up, trying to keep my head up but wow. Losing my mind a bit here. I have that lumpy icky feeling in my throat that means I'm basically a volcano of emotions. Watch out to the next person who talks to me or even looks at me, there will be a tear explosion.
And really I think feeling a bit down is totally normal in this scenario. I like to feel strong and in control and that is not the case at this very moment. I feel weak, tired, in pain and it's just been too many days in a row of this. I'm also aware of the brain-gut connection but that doesn't really help at the moment. Or does it? Nothing like some good old fashioned research to help me make sense of this mess. I always love to blame my emotions on something outside my control, it just makes me feel better.
There are some very interesting links between the gut and the brain in one of my very favorite books Brain Maker. I highly suggest it to anyone interested in the science behind microbes. Here are some of the links made in the book between what's happening in the gut and feeling a little down:
Inflammation + Depression
Apparently these two are very tightly connected, shocking. Studies have shown that the higher the inflammatory markers in a person, the worse the depression. And in one specific study, scientists gave healthy people without depression a substance that triggers inflammation, and typical depressive symptoms came on almost right away.
And from personal experience, when my gut is inflamed I don't even feel like myself. Obviously a lot comes along with the inflammation like pain and fatigue but it's like I also immediately lose my sense of confidence and my normally pretty positive mindset. All of a sudden I feel incapable of accomplishing anything and negative anxiety inducing thoughts flood my mind. Sort of like a hangover.
Certain Microbes + Certain Moods
If you haven't heard about what test mice have been up to lately, let me tell you, quite a bit. Scientists have been playing around with their microbiomes. In one test they removed all gut bacteria from mice who then started to have higher levels of stress hormones and reduced levels of brain chemicals which in these low amounts are linked with human anxiety and depression. In other mice they've switched microbiomes between two mice and each have taken on each others behavioural traits.
And one of my favorite tests mentioned in this book is about women who were split into three groups, some took probiotics for 4 weeks, some didn't yada yada. Long story short, at the end of the four weeks, they were shown images meant to induce an emotional response. The women who took the probiotics had a very different brain response to the images than the women who did not. The women without probiotics were emotionally impacted and disturbed by the images, where the women who did take the probiotics were not as they had a more cognitive response. And the difference between these two thought processes is: Feeling (Emotion) vs. Cognitive (Reasoning). Different parts of their brain were active which made them have different reactions and perceptions.
And I find this so interesting because personally I am someone who has felt pretty deeply emotionally impacted by everything around me. Scary teachers, other's bad moods, a room that isn't decorated properly. I feel like a vibe sponge. Who knows.
Leaky Gut + Leaky Brain
By now most of us have heard about 'leaky gut'. When the microbiome is off and the intestinal wall becomes permeable it lets toxins pass through into the bloodstream causing a whole host of issues and inflammation. Well it turns out there is a blood-brain barrier to think about as well. And with increased gut permeability comes the potential for increased blood-brain barrier permeability. The toxins a permeable gut lets in (proteins, viruses, bacteria) can then also pose a threat to the brain. And let's face it, toxins in the brain aren't going to do anyone good in the mood department, not to mention other brain conditions.
It's all just so interesting right? Anyway, I do feel a bit better now. It's not me it's my microbes, I'm going to stick with that.