In the last month alone, I have encountered five families in our area that have a child who suffers from extremely debilitating anxiety or panic attacks. My bet is that most readers similarly know of children and people suffering from anxiety. To me this is another alarming health epidemic nobody is recognizing as such.


One of the most interesting areas of health research today is the human gut. Our gut and digestive system is filled with bacteria, fungus and other microbial life that in addition to keeping us alive, also controls our health and mood. The bacteria in our gut produce neuroactive chemicals, such as serotonin and dopamine that get sent to our brains and directly influence our mood. Plus, the human gut has over 100 million neurons that connect it to our brains. So when our gut is unhealthy or lacking proper diversity, we feel it in our brain and mood.

Recently, in a study published in the journal Science Advances, researchers found that people with schizophrenia had a very low amount of two bacterial species, Lachnospiraceae and Ruminococcaceae which are abundant in healthy people. Schizophrenia can now be very accurately predicted just by examining fecal samples of people. How crazy is that? Schizophrenia, perhaps the most severe form of anxiety, is likely caused by missing just two bacterial families in the gut.

Antibiotics and chemicals in and the environment harm the gut microbiome and could be responsible for the rapidly increasing rates of anxiety and depression in our country. My theory is that the cause could well be glyphosate, the Roundup weed killer active ingredient, which is a super antibiotic that has exploded in magnitude in our environment and food. It is used so widely now that it even comes down in measurable quantity in most rain. Researchers recently even found it in most beers and wines. Depressing.


So what can we do to improve the microbiome in our guts, our mood and our health? First, eat organic foods exclusively, or at least as much as possible. Better yet, grow your own food. A small garden can produce a surprising amount of healthy delicious food. Secondly, eat prebiotic foods. Prebiotics are typically fibrous vegetables in which the fiber provides the foundation for thousands of different types of healthy bacteria to grow and thrive in our guts. Prebiotic foods include onions, carrots, garlic, bananas, yams and beets. Finally, new probiotic formulations are being created with beneficial bacteria that have been found to improve mood. These new formulations and even fecal transplants may provide other innovative cures. But the main beneficial thing we can do now is eat more organic foods, particularly vegetables.

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