Mental health and SIBO
“Going with your gut”, “a gut feeling”, “butterflies in my stomach” is much more than just a saying, science has found. The gut is like a “second brain” your gut communicates with your brain through the brain-gut axis.
Stresses and the gut
The sympathetic nervous system activates the fight or flight response. That slows down the motility in your small intestine and redirects the body’s resources to prepare for “fight or flight”.
This reaction by the body has stood us well and has been vital for our survival from an evolutionary perspective. But, in a world where we are no longer in life-or-death situations frequently, this can cause issues and make us very susceptible to SIBO.
If you’re relaxed after eating, this promotes your parasympathetic nervous system, helping you clear things out of your small intestine. That is known as “rest and digest”.
SIBO and brain chemicals
What we know now…
We have learned a considerable amount about the brain-gut connection in the last 15 years. We now know up to 95% of your serotonin is made in the gut. Serotonin is responsible for regulating mood and producing feelings of happiness and wellbeing. A higher percentage of individuals with IBS and SIBO develop depression and anxiety than the general population.
Inflammation and the brain:
Patients with SIBO face increased inflammation in the body, which puts the body under constant stress. Stress, as we learned, is not good for gut motility so It’s a vicious cycle and self-perpetuating cycle.
Vitamin deficiencies and SIBO
The small intestine that SIBO effect is responsible for extracting nutrients from the foods we eat.
With many of these nutrients, the body cannot make them itself. It relies on us consuming and extracting these vitamins for good physical and mental health.
When a patient has SIBO, tiny microorganisms can rob these vital nutrients, not allowing them to be utilized by the body, leaving us deficient.
Patients with SIBO often have low ferritin, which are iron stores, low vitamin D and B. These are hugely important in energy production and feeling well.
Iron is needed for: the formulation of healthy blood cells and energy.
Mental health conditions such as anxiety, panic attacks, paranoia, and depression have been linked to low iron stores. Findings published in ‘Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences’ found that iron deficiency in general is associated with higher psychological distress.
Vitamin D is needed for: Healthy bones and helping the body absorb and retain calcium and phosphorous. Studies also show that vitamin D can reduce inflammation and cancer cell growth.
Research has also shown vitamin D plays an essential role in regulating mood and fending off depression.
Vitamin B is needed for: Making sure the body’s cells are functioning correctly. They assist the body convert food into energy, creating new blood cells, and maintaining healthy skin cells, brain cells, and other body tissues.
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