Mind-Gut Connection

The article, When Gut Bacteria Changes Brain Function: Some researchers believe that the microbiome may play a role in regulating how people think and feel. published in The Atlantic, is fascinating! I highly recommend it.

It’s not yet clear how the microbiome alters the brain. Most researchers agree that microbes probably influence the brain via multiple mechanisms. Scientists have found that gut bacteria produce neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine and GABA, all of which play a key role in mood (many antidepressants increase levels of these same compounds). Certain organisms also affect how people metabolize these compounds, effectively regulating the amount that circulates in the blood and brain. Gut bacteria may also generate other neuroactive chemicals, including one called butyrate, that have been linked to reduced anxiety and depression. Cryan and others have also shown that some microbes can activate the vagus nerve, the main line of communication between the gut and the brain. In addition, the microbiome is intertwined with the immune system, which itself influences mood and behavior.

This interconnection of bugs and brain seems credible, too, from an evolutionary perspective. After all, bacteria have lived inside humans for millions of years. Cryan suggests that over time, at least a few microbes have developed ways to shape their hosts’ behavior for their own ends. Modifying mood is a plausible microbial survival strategy, he argues that “happy people tend to be more social. And the more social we are, the more chances the microbes have to exchange and spread.”

As scientists learn more about how the gut-brain microbial network operates, Cryan thinks it could be hacked to treat psychiatric disorders. “These bacteria could eventually be used the way we now use Prozac or Valium,” he says. And because these microbes have eons of experience modifying our brains, they are likely to be more precise and subtle than current pharmacological approaches, which could mean fewer side effects. “I think these microbes will have a real effect on how we treat these disorders,” Cryan says. “This is a whole new way to modulate brain function.”

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Bacteroides fragilis

Bacteroides fragilis:

“The California Institute of Technology microbiologist Sarkis Mazmanian has focused on a common species called Bacteroides fragilis, which is seen in smaller quantities in some children with autism. In a paper published two years ago in the journal Cell, Mazmanian and several colleagues fed B. fragilis from humans to mice with symptoms similar to autism. The treatment altered the makeup of the animals’ microbiome, and more importantly, improved their behavior: They became less anxious, communicated more with other mice, and showed less repetitive behavior.” (source)

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Methanobrevibacter smithii

Methanobrevibacter smithii:

• Abundance associated with higher bacterial gene richness in the gut • Lower counts of Methanobrevibacter species reported in human obesity; higher amounts reported in anorexia; in contrast, one study confirmed a positive association with increased BMI and body fat in methanogen-colonized populations • Higher levels linked to IBS-C; reduced levels linked with IBS-D • Methanogens found higher in people with colon cancer, colonic polyposis, ulcerative colitis, and diverticular disease (sigmoidoscopy enema samples) • Some studies have reported lower counts in IBD; conversely, other have reported Increased abundance.

Source: https://www.gdx.net/core/interpretive-guides/GI-Effects-IG.pdf

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Escherichia coli

Escherichia coli:

• Increased counts reported in inflammatory bowel disease; • Increased levels found in diarrhea-predominant IBS • Higher in overweight pregnant women compared to normal weight pregnant women and in women with excessive weight gain during pregnancy • Reported to increase with weight loss after gastric bypass, correlating negatively with leptin levels.

Source: https://www.gdx.net/core/interpretive-guides/GI-Effects-IG.pdf

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Collinsella aerofaciens

Collinsella aerofaciens:

Lower counts reported in IBS; lower levels may correlate with greater severity of IBS symptoms • Higher concentrations reported in IBD; thought to be result of abnormal host responses to the bacteria • Collinsella spp. reported higher in type 2 diabetes

Source: https://www.gdx.net/core/interpretive-guides/GI-Effects-IG.pdf

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Veillonella

Veillonella:

• Abundance associated with higher bacterial gene richness in the gut • Imbalances noted in IBS, although findings are mixed: some studies reported higher concentrations in IBS, in IBS-C, IBS-D; others have reported lower counts or lower counts weakly correlating with greater symptom severity • Found less abundant in autistic children compared to neurotypical children

Source: https://www.gdx.net/core/interpretive-guides/GI-Effects-IG.pdf

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Ruminococcus

Ruminococcus:

• Abundance associated with low bacterial gene richness in the gut • Human studies have reported that Ruminococcus spp. tend to be more abundant in IBD; active UC, active CD, and ileal CD • Levels are variable in IBS, depending on IBS subtype, with some researchers reporting increased concentrations and some finding decreased amounts • May be more prevalent in autism

Source: https://www.gdx.net/core/interpretive-guides/GI-Effects-IG.pdf

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Coprococcus eutactus

Coprococcus eutactus:

• Abundance associated with greater bacterial gene richness in the gut • Coprococcus may be less prevalent in autistic children compared to neurotypical children; may be result of intestinal disaccharidase deficiencies common in autism • In IBS, reduced abundance reported (in association with elevated Ruminococcus spp.)

Source: https://www.gdx.net/core/interpretive-guides/GI-Effects-IG.pdf

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Mind-Gut Connection and Mindfulness

What is the connection between the mind and the gut? Can gut health be improved through mindfulness and meditation?

“Mindfulness can boost immunity via the gut microbiota. As per a previous article I wrote here on Mindful, the human body is comprised of trillions of micro-organisms, most of which reside in the gut, which are called the gut microbiota. It turns out that the gut microbiota are key players in the development and maintenance of the immune system; the bacteria in the body that helps distinguish between intruder/foreign microbes vs. those that are endogenous. Studies have shown that stress tips our microbial balance, putting us at risk for dysbiosis, (a shift away from “normal” gut microbiota diversity), stripping us of one of our prime defenses against infectious disease, not to mention the cascade of reactions that ensue, which potentially wreak havoc on the central nervous system (CNS). Mindfulness-based stress reduction impacts our immune system by helping to maintain healthy gut microbiota diversity that is often upset by stress.”

Yup.

From Train Your Brain to Boost Your Immune System.

The connections are fascinating!

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Oxalobacter formigenes

Oxalobacter formigenes metabolizes oxalates in the gut and therefore colonization with this organism may reduce the risk of calcium oxalate kidney stones with healthy levels associated with a 70% reduced risk of being a recurrent calcium-oxalate stone former.

Kidney stones aren’t the only problems that oxalates cause though. Oxalates cause methylation problems that inhibit detoxification. According to Dr. Rostenberg’s article, OXALATES AND MTHFR: UNDERSTANDING THE GUT-KIDNEY AXIS:

“oxalates create biochemical problems that make methylation issues worse. Since oxalate problems cause sulfate problems, the genes most effected will be the SULT and other phase II related pathways. The sulfate molecule is key in order for the liver to perform the daily task of detoxification. If sulfate levels drop, then the body cannot use the SULT pathway to detoxify. Instead it will be forced to use other Phase II pathways which can put greater demand on pathways that are also genetically slowed down. When we consider other slowed Phase II detoxification gene SNPs such as NAT2, ALDH, COMT, GSH, GSS, UGT, and SOUX we can begin to see that a lack of sulfate molecules can have a broad negative impact on all of our detoxification pathways.”

Dr. Rostenberg goes on to say:

“As you will soon see, when oxalate levels are high, sulfate levels drop slowing down detoxification. Low sulfate levels put extra stress into the methylation cycle to provide the body with sulfate molecules. In individuals with an impaired methylation cycle this can provoke methylation issues such as high homocysteine, developmental disorders, gallbladder dysfunction, hormone imbalances, excess inflammation, poor growth and to name but a few. So with oxalate issues and the biochemical chaos it creates, a great deal of stress is placed on the methylation cycle.”

More information about oxalates can be found through the following links:

Trying Low Oxalates Facebook Group – https://www.facebook.com/groups/TryingLowOxalates/

http://www.lowoxalate.info/

Information about a low-oxalate diet can be found on Low Oxalate Info: Hope and Healing on the Low Oxalate Diet.

Dr. Rostenberg’s protocol for reducing oxalates can also be found here –http://www.beyondmthfr.com/high-oxalates/. Additional information from Dr. Rostenberg can be found through the Contact page on http://www.beyondmthfr.com/.

Additional information about MTHFR and other gene mutations, and how they affect health, can be found on https://mthfrsupport.com/.

Fluoroquinolone Antibiotics and Oxalate Overload

Normally present in 46–77% of healthy adults • Unique ability to metabolize oxalates in the gut • Dietary oxalate consumption generally increases O. formigenes abundance in controls, but not stone formers • Colonization with this bacteria may reduce risk of oxalate stone formation, with healthy levels associated with 70% reduced risk of being recurrent calcium-oxalate stone-former. (source)

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Clostridium clostridioforme

“High Clostridium clostridioforme which is associated with diabetes, low gut diversity, inflammatory conditions and human invasive and severe infections like bacteremia. Often it produces alcohol and other toxins, which are associated with inflammation, artery hardening, and histamine responses. Alcohol from microbial fermentation results in blockages of multiple enzyme pathways in the host including the degradation of histamine. When more histamine accumulates, subsequently, the host has more allergic reactions, congestion, rash, headaches or other manifestations of high histamine. These are all secondary to a dysbiotic and imbalanced gut.” (source)

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Christensenella minuta

Christensenella minuta is a heritable firmicute that is linked to leanness.

From The Most Heritable Gut Bacterium is… Wait, What is That?:

By studying 416 pairs of British twins, Julia Goodrich and colleagues from Cornell University have identified the gut microbes whose presence is most strongly affected by our genes. And chief among them was a mysterious bacterium called Christensenella minuta, the one and only member of a family that was discovered just three years ago.

Genetically and physically, it’s rather mundane. It’s yet another rod-shaped, oxygen-hating, nutrient-fermenting bacterium from the Firmicute dynasty—one of the two major groups in our guts. And yet, more than any other microbe, its presence in our body is strongly influenced by our genes. Christensenella also seems to sit at the centre of a large network of microbes; if it’s there, these others are likely to show up too. And it influences our weight: it’s more common in lean people, and it can reduce weight gain in mice.

All of these traits suggest that Christensenella might (emphasis on might) be a keystone species: one that wields a disproportionate influence upon the world around it. The term was first used to describe a starfish, whose absence could entirely change the nature of a seashore. It has since been used to describe sea otters, wolves, and mistletoe. These species might be relatively rare, but they are ecologically powerful. Perhaps Christensenella is similarly important in the world of our guts. And yet, until recently, no one even knew it existed.

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Neisseriales

Neisseriales (order): are abundant commensal bacteria that frequent healthy gut, urinary, and oral microbiomes. These bacteria are more common in healthy folks digestive tracts than they are in those of Crohn€™s disease sufferers, and the microbes tend to be depleted in the mouths of patients experiencing active tooth decay. They are also found on our skin, and the longer we go between successive hand-washings, the more Neisseriales that grown on our hands (Source: Ubiome).

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Fusobacteriales

Fusobacteriales (order): are part of the standard cast of characters in the microbiomes of our mouth, lungs, gut, and urinary tract. They are found more frequently in the digestive tracts of healthy folks than those of Crohn€™s Disease sufferers and are more common in the mouths of healthy folks than in those of noma sufferers (noma is a necrotizing disease of the gums and jaws that disproportionately affects children in developing countries (source Ubiome).

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Cyanobacteria

Cyanobacteria: residing in our gut appear to help generate B and K vitamins that we depend upon for nutrition. Although it was originally believed that the cyanobacteria in our gut originate from the chloroplasts in plants we eat, research indicates that our gut cyanobacteria are different strains that evolved to specifically inhabit our digestive tracts and help us ferment sugars we digest into acids and alcohols. Despite being commonly known as blue-green algae, cyanobacteria are in fact ancient bacteria that arose over three billion years ago. More than two billion years ago, cyanobacteria living alongside early forms of plant-life were actuallyabsorbed by plant cells and became what we now know as chloroplasts (Source Ubiome).

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Actinobacteria

Actinobacteria: which are so important to a healthy microbiome that we can even take probiotic supplements of them, are the most common microbes on our skin and are commensal to our mouths and genitals too. It is in fact the suborder Propionibacteria that is the most frequent inhabitant of our skin. Some bacteria play different roles in male versus female microbiomes – and Actinobacteria happen to crop up a lot in the female camp. These microbes are major components of the female urinary microbiome and are also affected by changes caused by pregnancy. Gender differences aside, people with psoriasis have less of these bugs but people with ulcerative colitis tend to have more. Actinobacteria are also the most common bacteria in our noses. Beyond the microbiome, these microbes are found predominantly in soil and freshwater, and strains are known to produce a variety of biologically active compounds including antibiotics, antifungals, and plant and animal growth factors. The phylum Actinobacteria is made up of only one, eponymous, class (Source Ubiome).

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ProteoBacteria

ProteoBacteria: Along with Firmicutes, Proteobacteria are the most common gut microbes in Westerners. Although all of us carry these microbes, folks with inflammatory bowel disease seem to have more Proteobacteria and fewer varieties of other bacteria. Interestingly, the proportional representation of Proteobacteria increases dramatically in the digestive tracts of pregnant women in their third trimester. (Source Ubiome).

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