The brain and your gut are intimately connected, through the gut-brain axis. Meaning a troubled intestine can send signals to the brain, and a troubled brain can send signals to the gut.
Your gut: the wall between two worlds
Your entire digestive tract is just a very complicated, hollow tube that runs from your mouth down to your anus. While you might swallow something, it's not really inside of you until it's been absorbed across your gut barrier into your bloodstream.
Just like your external skin on the outside of our body, you have ‘internal skin’: mucous membranes that run all the way through your digestive tract. There’s a huge amount of your immune system along this lining.
This immune system is there to protect you, but it’s very sensitive to potential imbalances. This line of defence raises the alarm within your body because it's the interface between your external world and your internal world.
Happy gut, happy brain
Depression, panic attacks and anxiety are symptoms that there's an imbalance somewhere. If you’re scratched or poked on your external skin, that would make you anxious or panicky. On your internal surface, it can raise the same alarm.
Intestinal permeability is when the cells in your digestive tract start to loosen and then small parts of bacteria start leaking into your bloodstream, causing low-grade inflammation. This can lead to symptoms like depression.
We know there's a big connection between your gut and your brain, but there’s also a connection between your gut and your skin. So this low-grade inflammation can also result in symptoms within your skin. There’s a component of bacterial cell walls called lipopolysaccharides.
Feeding your good-mood bacteria
Studies have taken these lipopolysaccharides and injected them straight into the bloodstream of test subjects, who went on to develop depression and anxiety, among other symptoms.
Strengthening the physical barrier of your gut walls while supporting the immune reactivity that leads to symptoms of depression and anxiety can help.
For example, prebiotics are fermented in the large intestine and release compounds called short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). These SCFAs are one of the main components of a healthy microbiome because they nourish the bacteria that strengthen your gut lining. They also have a systemic effect on your immune system.
Everything is connected
Because over 70 percent of your immune system is in your gut, when you look after your gut, you're helping to balance your immune system. And when you have a balanced immune system, your gut benefits too. You can't support one without supporting the other.
Our Gut Health Tests not only reveal information about immune activity in your gut, but give you a window into the types and levels of specific microbes in your gut that research has connected to symptoms of depression and anxiety. These insights—along with your symptom survey results and your health history—are a great base for our practitioners to work from to create your protocol.