Link between the brain and the gut


Most everyone has heard of your gut bacteria (a.k.a. microbiome, microbiota and gut flora) as playing the primary role in the body’s immune function. Additionally, most of us can relate to having had many rounds of antibiotics in our lives which destroy the rich, diverse and beneficial bacteria that protect us from invading bacteria, viruses, funguses, etc. Antibiotics along with stress, prescription and OTC medications, processed foods and environmental toxins all compromise our gut flora balance; therefore, our ability to stay healthy. However, recent studies have shown that not only is the microbiome responsible for keeping us well, it also plays a key role in our brain functioning!

In addition to immune response, our beneficial gut bacteria are responsible for producing vitamins, amino acids and many precursor chemical components in the making of our neurotransmitters. In fact, 90% of Serotonin is produced by the gut and only 10% by the brain! This has huge implications concerning anxiety and depression. If certain bacteria are not present within our microbiome, then our ability to make these vital chemicals for our mental well-being is compromised. The primary “feel good” neurotransmitter, serotonin, cannot be synthesized by the body unless it has the amino, tryptophan, which is regulated by gut bacteria. Tryptophan is obtained by the digestion of proteins in the gut and is transported in the blood plasma to the brain, where it is converted to serotonin. In essence, if we have low tryptophan this means low serotonin production which can lead to depression.

Foods Containing Tryptophan

    Tryptophan is abundant in protein foods such as:

    • beef
    • fowl
    • fish
    • eggs

    and plant sources such as:

    • sesame
    • pumpkin
    • flax and sunflower seeds
    • cacao powder
    • and almonds. Especially almonds!

Gut Bacteria and Inflammation

Furthermore, science has made the connection between inflammation and depression. Studies have shown that when healthy people, with no signs of depression, were given a substance that triggered inflammation, they then began to show classic symptoms of depression. This implies that our gut bacteria needs to be healthy and balanced.

>p>To keep the gut healthy, we must become aware of possible hidden triggers of inflammation which can be different for different people. The inflammatory response is not limited to viruses or bacteria, etc. Processed foods, excess simple sugars and even seemingly healthy foods, such as grains, can cause food sensitivities in some people. Food sensitivities, over time, can cause low level inflammation with the possibility of developing into a chronic condition such as an autoimmune disease.

So how do we cultivate a healthy microbiome?

  • Find healthy outlets to alleviate high levels of stress, such as exercise, meditation or a soothing hobby.
  • Consume whole, organic foods when possible and decrease sugar and processed foods.
  • Add fermented foods to your diet and/or take a high quality probiotic supplement daily.
  • Explore natural alternatives to prescription antibiotics, such as Echinacea, Apple Cider Vinegar, Colloidal Silver, Oregano Oil, Grapefruit Seed Extract, Garlic and Raw Honey.

The benefits of implementing the above steps not only support a healthy microbiome, they also increase your energy, engage the natural cleansing processes of the body and cool the flames of inflammation.


This information is for educational purposes. If you have a medical problem, please consult your medical practitioner.


Brain Maker by: David Perlmutter, M.D., 2015
“My Brain Notes” by: Sarah-Neena Koch  |
“Vegetarian Tryptophan” Food Research International, LLC

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