If you suffer from IBS, you may also be dealing with depression and/or anxiety. This isn’t too surprising; after all, IBS is a debilitating condition, that might well cause you to feel depressed or anxious. But the connection between IBS, depression and anxiety runs deeper than that. Here’s the real kicker, revealed by recent science – if you’re currently struggling with anxiety or depression, you also have a greater chance of developing IBS within the year.1
Don’t panic, though – because the same science that has given us this information, has also shown us the solution. It’s called the Kefir Solution, and it will work to resolve IBS, depression and anxiety – for good!
WHAT’S THE BRAIN-GUT CONNECTION?
The connection between IBS, depression and anxiety is due to something called the Gut-Brain Axis, or GBA. It turns out that your brain is inextricably linked to your gut – and your gut is linked to your brain.
Why is this? Well, you have 100 billion neurons in your brain. And there are 100 million neurons in your gut. They work exactly the same way, and communicate using exactly the same neurotransmitter, called serotonin.
You may be familiar with serotonin as the “happy molecule.” But serotonin is also a communication molecule, that enables one neuron to speak to the next neuron, in both your gut and your brain. Serotonin is also responsible for the smooth and painless processing of food through your system. So it’s pretty important stuff!
Here’s how it works: Inside your gut, you have trillions of bacteria. The exact number, scientists believe, is 1024 which is the same number of stars in the observable universe.
The best way to imagine all these different types of living bacteria inside you is like a lovely Amazon rainforest. Picture loads of life forms like birds, butterflies, flowers, trees, fish, lizards, deer and jaguar, all co-existing in a wonderfully complex ecosystem.
If you imagine that your neurons are like the birds in the trees – then serotonin is the bird song that they use to communicate with one another. And as your endocrine, immune and nervous systems must communicate with each other every millisecond, in order to drive trillions of complex interactions inside your system, you can imagine how important all that communication process is.
WHAT CAN GO WRONG INSIDE YOUR GUT?
95 percent of all the serotonin in your body is produced inside your gut, by cells called enterochromaffin, or EC cells. EC cells only make up 2 percent of all the cells in your gut. In our rainforest picture, these cells are like the birds of paradise – the very special stars of the show.
But here’s the worrying part – like any natural ecosystem, the one inside your gut is fragile, and can be damaged. What damages it? Things I like to call the 4 Horsemen of the Gut Apocalypse – antibiotics, sugar, stress and environmental toxins.
Any of these 4 Horsemen can destroy your gut microbiome, wiping out the delicate organisms that live inside your private rainforest, and killing off the precious EC cells that produce your serotonin.
No serotonin means no communication. The forest goes silent. Inside your brain, this will feel like anxiety and depression. And inside your gut – where serotonin controls the smooth and painless processing of food through your system – this will feel like IBS.
WHAT CAN I DO ABOUT IT?
Luckily, there is now a solution, for both your IBS and the anxiety/depression that may go along with it. It’s a traditional natural probiotic called kefir. Kefir has been around for millennia, but today it’s poised to become a major player in a new frontier in neuroscience because of its actions as a ‘psychobiotic’. This is a new term for a combination of live organisms that, when ingested in adequate amounts, produce mental health benefits.
Psychobiotics have been largely studied in groups of IBS patients, and positive results were seen on both their IBS and their depression/anxiety2. And there’s more good news: you don’t need to be clinically depressed to benefit from psychobiotics. The latest research shows that anyone suffering from chronic stress, low mood or anxiety-like symptoms can benefit from them as well.3
CHOOSING MY KEFIR
The best kefir to use as a psychobiotic is live, active, traditional-style kefir, rather than a supermarket probiotic, which may be pasteurised after production.4 Look for kefir that is made with real kefir grains and goats milk, as cows milk is an allergen that can cause inflammation inside the gut. Avoid flavoured or sweetened kefir, as sugar and sweeteners can further damage your microbiome. If you wish to flavour your kefir at home, use 100% pure stevia and fruit, blending and consuming immediately to avoid degradation of the probiotics.
Kefir suitable for use as a psychobiotic can be sourced and delivered to your door, without shipping charge, from www.chucklinggoat.co.uk.
Shann Nix Jones is the author of The Kefir Solution: Natural Healing for IBS, Depression and Anxiety, due to be published by Hay House in June 2017. This book contains additional tips, supplements and recipes to help heal your gut and your brain, and is currently available for pre-order, here.
1 VIB – Flanders Interuniversity Institute for Biotechnology – “‘Anxiety increases risk of gastrointestinal infection, long-term complications”. Published by ScienceDaily on July 2, 2015.
2 T.G. Dinan – “‘Psychobiotics: a novel class of psychotropic”. Published by Biological Psychiatry on November 15, 2013.
3 K. Tillish – “‘Consumption of fermented milk product with probiotic modulates brain activity”. Published by ScienceDaily on June 21, 2013.
4 Dr Cotter – “Which foods can improve your gut health”. Published by BBC News on January 30, 2017.