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Is there hope for those of us who didn't get good gut bacteria early in life?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created June 16, 2012 at 5:04 AM

I found this in our archives:

The Neuroscience of the Gut: The brain is shaped by bacteria in the digestive tract

That question links to a Scientific American article. The article reminds us how intimately the gut and brain are connected. The gist of the article is that "the bacteria that inhabit our intestines, have a significant impact on brain development and subsequent adult behavior." I've read that being inoculated with good gut bacteria early in life is important for brain development and I'm wondering if there is hope for the many of us that might not have gotten those good bugs from mom, or perhaps from eating dirt. The Scientific American article isn't encouraging:

Pettersson???s team next asked whether the influence of gut microbes on the brain was reversible and, since the gut is colonized by microbes soon after birth, whether there was evidence that gut microbes influenced the development of the brain. They found that colonizing an adult germ-free animal with normal gut bacteria had no effect on their behavior. However, if germ free animals were colonized early in life, these effects could be reversed. This suggests that there is a critical period in the development of the brain when the bacteria are influential.

A recent article in Science News, Early Gut Bacteria Regulate Happiness, gives the same message as the Scientific American article:

ScienceDaily (June 12, 2012) ??? UCC scientists have shown that brain levels of serotonin, the 'happy hormone' are regulated by the amount of bacteria in the gut during early life. Their research is being published June 12 in the international psychiatry journal, Molecular Psychiatry.

This research shows that normal adult brain function depends on the presence of gut microbes during development. Serotonin, the major chemical involved in the regulation of mood and emotion, is altered in times of stress, anxiety and depression and most clinically effective antidepressant drugs work by targeting this neurochemical.

And, again, a discouraging message:

Finally, when the scientists colonized the animals with bacteria prior to adulthood, they found that many of the central nervous system changes, especially those related to serotonin, could not be reversed indicating a permanent imprinting of the effects of absence of gut flora on brain function.

Do you know of any studies that contradict the despairing message that you can't fix the gut bug ecosystem as an adult. Have any of you found eating lots of fermented foods and/or taking probiotics to be helpful?

A08b210e4da7e69cd792bddc1f4aae4b

(1031)

on July 03, 2012
at 11:41 AM

I think you mean a "transpoosion"! http://www.freakonomics.com/2011/03/04/freakonomics-radio-the-power-of-poop/ http://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/stories/3269844.htm http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/01/19/us-faeces-transplants-idUSTRE70I1UT20110119

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on June 16, 2012
at 03:58 PM

also sibo and ibs only overlap some of the time. Not all people with symptoms of poor gut bacteria have SIBO.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on June 16, 2012
at 03:03 PM

did you read the article? No one is claiming they don't have bacteria! But that they got the wrong bacteria.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on June 16, 2012
at 03:01 PM

I've had to accept though, that I will be on probiotics forever.

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32564)

on June 16, 2012
at 01:14 PM

Also, Matrix Reimprinting (an advanced EFT modality) has been very successful for my clients and many others in "getting happy" after challenging childhood experiences. I think gut flora is not the only factor wrt serotonin.

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32564)

on June 16, 2012
at 01:12 PM

I don't know of any studies, Sol, but Melissa has had some good success with healing her gut flora and I think the woman who wrote the CheeseSlave blog may have written something about reversing celiac.

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5 Answers

8
B3173217a49b5b0116078775a17eb21d

(11488)

on June 16, 2012
at 01:14 PM

Two words: "fecal transplants".

I don't know anything about them.

I don't want to know anything about them.

I'm certainly not going to type it into google in case they show me some image results.

But apparently they can help with this type of thing.

Now let's just move quietly on and forget that I even mentioned the poo transplants.

A08b210e4da7e69cd792bddc1f4aae4b

(1031)

on July 03, 2012
at 11:41 AM

I think you mean a "transpoosion"! http://www.freakonomics.com/2011/03/04/freakonomics-radio-the-power-of-poop/ http://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/stories/3269844.htm http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/01/19/us-faeces-transplants-idUSTRE70I1UT20110119

4
F92a0a13e601a6d302e44a4d4e0e3b91

on June 16, 2012
at 10:27 AM

I can't believe that the bacteria local to the operating theatre where babies are born by c-sec then the ( in the past non- existent, now limited) bacteria in formula milk and the bacteria, or what is left of them, found in an over-sanitised home are particularly optimal for gut population. This is the worst case scenario but not uncommon ans wasn't Kurt Harris talking recently about there being little hope for restoring gut flora to 'normal', the best those who are suffering can do is eat a palliative paleo type diet to relieve symptoms. I, too, would like to hear otherwise.

3
4b5be253ac1981c690689cab7e4bf06d

(3043)

on June 16, 2012
at 12:42 PM

Yes, your early childhood experiences, mentally and physically, will shape your adult life. That doesnt mean that you are doomed, or that nothing can change you. It simply means that what happens when you are a small child has an effect on your adulthood.

One theory of why we are heavier now is that we have generations of people exposed to novel "food stuffs," and the effects are cumulative. So, while our grandparents may have been fine with Crisco, having it everywhere, and changing our gene expression over generations, is giving us our issues.

You can change your gut bacteria. Look up fecal transplants :)

Otherwise, you cant change your childhood. The best thing to do is do the best thing for you, right now, so that you can be the best that you can.

2
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on July 03, 2012
at 09:21 AM

Whilst initial bacterial colonisation is determined by the type of delivery (vaginal vs cesarian) and weaning there are many other factors that can affect bacterial abundance and species dominance including antibiotic use, stress, disease, injury, surgery, etc.

Fecal transplantation has been remarkably successful at establishing new bacterial ecosystems and particularly in the treatment of Chlostridium difficile infections. Potentially, fecal transplantation may be able to assist with metabolic and autoimmune disorders.

The procedure of fecal transplantation - gross as it sounds - is undergoing development and may ultimately involve the administration of a suppository.

It gives the saying "get your shit together" a whole new meaning.

1
Bb3d1772b28c02da2426e40dfcb533f5

(5381)

on June 16, 2012
at 09:02 AM

I dont see why you wouldnt get bacteria as a child. Where you raised on anti-biotics? If not youd get yours from your mother, and your enviroment. (note all those animals who suffered poorly were germ free, ie treated with antibiotics....no normal human is born into the world on a constant course of ABs)

If somebody takes long term anti-biotics, there gut flora is reset and back to normal in one month. Presumably all that bacteria comes from your enviroment, and is just re-accepted by your body as normal. In a healthy person, your flora is resilant, and generally rebalances itself. Sometimes an infection can throw this out of course..(which can occur after abs)

Is there some reason to think that you were born germ free like these lab animals?

Or are you depressed?

Or are you just suffering from SIBO? (if so, id avoid probiotics, and read up on dr pimental's IBS: a new cure and also GAPS, SCD and FODMAP diets).

If your gut motility is poor, due to infection or IBS (motility nerves damaged by bacterial toxins), then bacteria that are supposed to live in your colon grow up into your small intenstine, where they cause trouble. Taking probiotics in this scenario just means more bacteria in your small intestine where they dont belong, because your gut doesnt have the cleansing waves to get it all out and into the colon.

Probiotics may or may not be helpful, for some people, with some health issues. For people with motility issues, they could be a mistake. Theres over 600 species of bacteria in the gut anyway, and most probiotics have a handful at best, very few of which have proven benefits. It would seem to me, that taking large quantities of 2-6 bacterial species, isnt going to rebalance your gut flora, if its made up of over 600 species. It might fight back some 'bad bacteria" overgrowth, if you dont have motility issues, but its not going to affect some grand rebalancing. The body is primarily supposed to take care of that itself.

And if you have a candida, or pylori problem, it needs specific treatment. If you have SIBO, likewise, you need a course of anti-biotics, followed by a specific diet (and or a fast), and certain supplements like glutamine and digestive enzymes with meals to starve the beasties out of your small intestine.

I would definately advise looking at dr pimentals book, his treatment protocols, and a quick look at things like the fodmap diet (and scd) - if you have digestive issues.

Hope thats some help....

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on June 16, 2012
at 03:03 PM

did you read the article? No one is claiming they don't have bacteria! But that they got the wrong bacteria.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on June 16, 2012
at 03:58 PM

also sibo and ibs only overlap some of the time. Not all people with symptoms of poor gut bacteria have SIBO.

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