The role of the ‘biome in insomnia, circadian disruption, and depression

Everything is connected! (Li et al., 2018)

Good sleep and mood are important for health and keeping active. Keeping active is important for sleep, mood, and health. Good health is important for sleep, mood, and physical activity.

“There is considerable evidence showing that the gut ‘biome not only affects the digestive, metabolic, and immune functions of the host but also regulates host sleep and mental states through the ‘biome-gut-brain axis… the ‘biome and inflammation may be linked to sleep loss, circadian misalignment, affective disorders, and metabolic disease.”

The only gut products I’ve ever really recommended are Bifido (eg, something like this or this) and GOS… and start with a very low dose.

Epidemiological studies have shown the infinite inter-connectedness of all of these conditions. Many people with sleep problems also have IBS. Many people with anxiety have sleep problems. Many people with IBS have mood disorders. Etc., etc., etc…

The authors of this recent review have suggested 3 main pathways in which this might occur.

  1. immunoregulatory pathway: mediated by cytokines, PGE2, etc.
  2. neuroendocrine pathway: enteroendocrine cells which secrete hormones that directly influence the HPA axis and the CNS.
  3. vagus nerve pathway wherein sensory neurons of the intestinal myenteric plexus respond to the ‘biome to affect gut physiology and signal to the brain (tenth cranial nerve and all that jazz)

Importantly, the CNS can also regulate the ‘biome via these pathways. Everything is connected! If something isn’t right with your health, these are probably the places to look.

The main 2 ‘biome inhabitants are Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes. Firmicutes (like Acidophilus) have been associated with obesity. Sometimes. Bifido is neither, it’s an Actinobacteria. Circadian misalignment and sleep deprivation have been shown to influence the relative abundances and ‘biome metabolites (eg, Davies et al., 2014). Jet lag increases Firmicutes which is reversed upon recovery. Whoa.

Bifido supps have been shown to improve emotional and cognitive indicators, the stress response, and anxiety in people with IBS (Plaza-Diaz et al., 2017)… and bifido is reduced in people with chronic fatigue syndrome.

Stress increases gut permeability, bacterial translocation, and bloating which is associated with sleep disorders because of course it is.

In mice, at least, these can be corrected by fixing their ‘biome…

Effects of the probiotic bifidobacterium infantis in the maternal separation model of depression (Desbonnet et al., 2010)

Not too surprising as 90% of your serotonin comes from chromaffin cells in your gut and bifido actually produces GABA. Bifido are reduced in patients with depression (correlation =/= causation, but this is highly consistent in a variety of contexts).

Sleep loss, circadian misalignment, affective disorders, metabolic disease, the ‘biome, and inflammation. They’re all connected! If something isn’t right, these are probably the places to look.

That’s all for now!

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