Friday, February 23, 2018

The Gut-Brain Connection

Changes in the gut microbiome can have a therapeutic response which has led to the use of probiotics in traditional medicine since long before probiotics were identified and acknowledged as the mechanism of this response. As the use of probiotics grows, so to does the body of knowledge we have about the relationship between the microorganisms that inhabit our gut and our overall health. We are now able to realize the delicacy of our gut's environment. Negative changes to the gut microbiome result in altered activity of neurotransmitter systems & immune function which can be potentially detrimental and contribute to a number of disorders or conditions. Similarly, targeted positive changes to the gut microbiome may reduce the symptoms of and possibly even reverse certain conditions.

 Links have been made between gut health and depression, anxiety, stress, even sleep. A recent study tested this relationship in mice, which provide a very useful model of our own digestive and nervous system. The study found that treatment with a lactic acid producing strain of probiotic may help to reduce stress as well as depression and anxiety. The lactic acid producing bacteria "induced region-dependent alterations in GABAB1b mRNA in the brain with increases in cortical regions (cingulate and prelimbic) and concomitant reductions in expression in the hippocampus, amygdala, and locus coeruleus, in comparison with control-fed mice" and more importantly, "reduced stress-induced corticosterone and anxiety- and depression-related behavior" (Bravo, 2011).

Ongoing research is investigating whether gut bacteria are one reason for the mood symptoms in medical conditions.

Legere Pharmaceuticals carries a unique room temperature stable lactic-acid producing probiotic known as Bi-ProZyme to help replenish healthy bacteria contributing to better health. 

Bravo, J., Paul, F., Chew, M., Escaravage, E., et. al. (2011). Ingestion of Lactobacillus strain regulates emotional behavior... PNAS. Retrieved from:

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Sources of Hunger

The sensations of hunger and satiety are influenced by environmental and genetic factors, as well as specific centers of the brain - especially the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus receives signals from the gastrointestinal tract which influence eating behavior by effecting satiety and cravings.

What Causes Hunger?

Cause: Empty Stomach - One method that the brain uses to evaluate its energy needs is communicating with the stomach, via the vagus nerve. The stomach sends signals to the brain essentially telling the brain about its contents.

Solution: Carboxymethylcellulose expands in the stomach providing a physical feeling of fullness by giving the stomach the input it needs to tell the brain you are full. This can be a beneficial tool in attempting to learn better eating habits by making you feel full even when consuming smaller portions.

Cause: Hormones - Cholecystokinin (CCK) is a peptide hormone responsible for stimulating the digestion of fat and protein. CCK is secreted by the small intestine when we eat, triggered as a response to fat entering the duodenum, and interacts with specific neurons known to regulate appetite.

Solution: L-Phenylalanine is a natural amino acid that has been proven to cause increases in CCK resulting in a feeling of satiety. (For more on L-Phenylalanine and CCK, download our white paper INFLUENCING YOUR APPETITE)

Cause: Neurotransmitters - Certain foods can have an impact on our appetite beyond just energy balance. Carbohydrates, for example, increase serotonin production resulting in a feedback loop that teaches people to reach for a snack to make themselves feel better. This is what we refer to as "emotional eating".

Solution: 5-HTP has proved to be a useful tool in overcoming the chemical nature of appetite. By naturally increasing serotonin production 5-HTP provides a sense of well-being and satisfaction, and decreases appetite. 5-HTP may be especially effective in reducing the over-consumption of foods used for emotional reasons.