At least once a day I am explaining to someone that we ‘live and die through our gut’. Trying to bridge the gap in people’s way of thinking to help them understand that everything that they put in your mouth will have a positive or negative affect on their body; is a battle. I am not quite sure where or when the disconnect happened. I certainly do not know everything however; I am amused when people want to debate and defend their daily use of artificial sweeteners, long term daily antibiotic use, long term daily Proton Pump Inhibitor use and the frequent consumption of highly processed foods. There are many more offenders than just those I previously mentioned however; I only chose to list those because they are relative to, and a constant in a number of cases with unresolved symptoms of depression I have been involved with. Remember now that I am going to focus on the health of the gut, also known as ‘the second brain’ and how the use of (or combined use of) the aforementioned products can effect mood.
Starting with artificial sweeteners; I have yet to be able to reach some people regarding the deleterious effects of the consistent use of them. Many of the symptoms they may be experiencing are related to the use of artificial sweeteners and yet, though they may make significant changes in their nutrition and lifestyle, they will not let go of the artificial sweeteners. The phenylalanine in aspartame dissociates from the ester bond and increases dopamine levels in your brain. This can lead to symptoms of depression because it distorts your serotonin/dopamine balance, and by the way, 95% of the body’s serotonin is found in the gut. Artificial sweeteners reduce the amount of good bacteria in your intestines by 50 percent, increase the pH level in your intestines, and affect a glycoprotein in your body that can have crucial health effects, particularly if you’re on certain medications.
It’s truly disturbing that Splenda can destroy up to 50 percent of your healthy intestinal bacteria, as these bacteria help maintain your body's overall balance of friendly versus unfriendly micro-organisms, and support your general health. So it would make sense that with even just this one insult to the gut’s balance that serotonin levels would be adversely affected.
Antibiotic use is another major gut flora disruptor. Antibiotics deplete intestinal flora. Antibiotics deplete nutrients such as biotin, inositol, B1, B2, B3, B6, B12 & vitamin K. The intestinal flora is depleted affecting nutrient absorption AND the nutrients are be depleted. Look at the list of depleted vitamins and you will see they are mostly B vitamins. It is a well-known fact that along with a proper mineral balance, B vitamins are essential for mental and emotional well-being. Our body cannot store B vitamins so it is vital that they are repleted daily with a high quality diet and/or supplement. Add caffeine, alcohol, stress, nicotine, or refined foods to the mix and even more of your B vitamins are getting destroyed making them completely unavailable even if they could be properly absorbed. Long term use of antibiotics can lead to a low Hydrochloric Acid (HCL) level.
Low HCL has been associated with many other common health problems, including malabsorption of vitamins and minerals. Levels of Vitamin C and B12 are often low in individuals with impaired stomach acid. Minerals, such as iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc and copper, may be low because they require an acidic environment for absorption.
Proton Pump Inhibitors are acid (HCL) blockers. They are prescribed to patients with acid reflux symptoms. These drugs were only meant to be used for a suggested maximum of 16 weeks while allowing the tissue to cool down and repair; not for years. Ironically, often the symptoms of acid reflux are a result of too little stomach acid (HCL). Acid blockers allow the pH in the stomach to rise above the optimal 1.5 – 2.0 level. Not only does this now mildly acidic environment not have the capabilities to destroy the bad bacteria, it cannot breakdown and digest foods properly thus leading to reflux and other digestive problems. With low HCL, the gut cannot adequately absorb vitamins and minerals that require an acidic environment to be absorbed properly. Allergies and asthma are also symptoms of low HCL.
Are you seeing the connection here? The gut and how it affects your overall health is undeniable. Once you disrupt the balance of gut flora and HCL thus interfering with absorption of nutrients; how could you expect NOT to be adversely effected? So before you reach for another prescription to mask your symptoms; consider the bigger picture. The long term benefits are worth it!
Lisa Mittry, CNC, CPT
“Driven by Passion, Inspired by Love”
La Costa Chiropractic and Wellness Center
6986 El Camino Real, Suite F
Carlsbad, CA 92009