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Depression, Anxiety and Autism: Is the Answer in Your Poop?

The gut-brain connection is being researched more vigorously than ever. Dr. Valerie Taylor, an expert in psychiatry research and fecal transplant gives her opinion in this area.

Hippocrates has been famously quoted, especially by the functional medicine and holistic doctors, that, “All illnesses begin in the gut.” Today’s podcast guest, Dr. Valerie Taylor may be the perfect person to answer the specific question, how much of our mental health is affected by our microbiome? Dr. Taylor is a professor and department head of psychiatry at the Hotchkiss Brain Institute in Alberta, Canada. She is internationally known as an expert in this area of the brain-gut connection. I think she’s unusual in this aspect that not too many people who are psychiatrists are interested in poop. That’s what kind of makes her special.

I did have a prior podcast on the Power of Poop with Dr. Ari Greenspan several months ago, who’s a gastroenterologist at Mount Sinai. And it was a very interesting discussion but, obviously, a lot of it was focused on infections in the gut, and issues with that directly with the gut. But here we’re going to be talking about how what’s going on in your microbiome and assessing your stool, maybe telling us a lot more about your mood, and whether you have a mental illness.

And just a few facts before I bring Dr. Taylor in, the human gut has 100 trillion bacteria. So, sometimes you have to think, “What are they all doing there?” The other thing is there are 3 million genes that help build molecules to help us digest food, make vitamins such as vitamin K, and to keep bad bacteria out of our system. And, finally, this is, I think, super important, the bacteria in the gut make 90% of our serotonin in our body. And almost everyone knows serotonin is that neurotransmitter that, again, there are so many medications that are given to try to help boost your serotonin to keep us calm, and in a better mood.