The standard western diet (SAD), our own, has already been blamed for the rise in heart disease, diabetes, obesity, digestive disorders, and a whole landry list of modern ills.  However, did you know about emerging research that links the SAD diet to depression and psychiatric disorders.

Whether we think we eat well or not, many foods change the mix of bacteria in the gut—known as the gut microbiome—which appears to affect the brain, including cognitive ability, memory, depression, ADHD, and increased anxiety.

Researchers at Louisiana State University wanted to know whether bacteria in the gut can alter behavioral patterns.  So, they did what most good researchers do…get some mice.  When all was said and done, the mice that were fed a diet (in this case a high fat diet) that interfered with the balance of healthy and unhealthy bacterial in those little guts exhibited repetitive behaviors, anxiety and memory impairment.

In recent years, research about the link between and unhealthy microbiome and disease has exploded.  It is all over the most used search engines.  Those of us who practice Functional Medicine have known the clinical results that have come from actually administering simple tests to measure and identify your own gut bacterial profile and then restoring balance to that microbiome:  patients return to the office reporting significant improvement (often complete resolution) to IBS, GERD, inflammatory bowel conditions, anxiety, depression, memory loss, ADHD, weight gain, fatigue, inflammatory conditions, and others.

Physicians trained in Functional Medicine can administer these tests and have special training in interpreting them.  However…

For those who ask:  “Can’t I just go to this store or that pharmacy and buy some of that probiotic stuff?”  I would reply:  “Unfortunately, it is not that simple.”

To get the most benefit from your probiotic, you need to choose a high-quality supplement containing the strains most likely to treat your personal condition. With hundreds of strains of LactobacillusBifidobacterium, and other species being studied, as well as a dizzying array of probiotics on store shelves (often containing numerous species and strains in widely varying amounts), choosing the best probiotic  supplements and knowing how to take them for your particular condition can be difficult.

Moreover, we have discovered that specific strains of bacteria are more important to specific illnesses and diseases and disorders than others.  Guessing which these may be is not in your best interest.  Again, why guess if simple testing can assess just what you need.

Now to another matter….

IN TERMS OF THE OTC (over-the-counter) PROBIOTIC MARKET, studies have found that many  were contaminated with pathogenic bacteria (“bad” stuff), or did not meet their potency/strength claims, or failed to grow (were non-viable).  Meaning at best you wasted your money, at worst you hurt yourself more by taking the supplement.

Some simple testing by a Functional Medicine clinician and some professional probiotic supplementation can be one of the more significant choices you make for your health.