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The probiotic brain fog connection
Not being able to think “so good” can be a devastating complaint, so what causes brain fog ? Could your probiotic be to blame ?
Surely NOT !
Probiotics are do good-ers. ….
Good gone bad
When you’re swallowing a probiotic, you’re sending in millions of “good” bacteria, that are able to
- create good things,
- muscle out bad guys and
- co-ordinate your immune cells
But, you are sending in a big load of specific little guys.
And that pre-supposes, your system is able to accommodate them.
Sometimes it’s NOT.
Short bowel syndrome
A case in point, people with short bowel syndrome, can run into trouble. The trouble they suffer from is D-lactic acidosis.
NOTE : Short bowel syndrome describes a condition where your colon is ‘shorter” than normal, this can arise because of genes or be as a result of disease e.g. cancer, infections.
So what does this look like ?
GIT upsets, accompanied by neurological symptoms including
- Impaired alertness
- Involuntary eye movements
- Gait disturbances
- Slurred speech
Not quite brain fog, but pretty close…….close enough to take a deeper look ?
Brain fog explored
Definitely, this is what a team of researchers based at Augusta University, in the USA did.
They rounded up a group of patients with absolutely NORMAL looking guts, who also had normal hematoglocial and biochemical profiles, BUT who were NOT functioning normally….
They reported brain fogginess,
along with unexplained abdominal bloating, pain, gas and distention.
And they were all BIG probiotic users.
Suspecting that the GIT disturbances, brain fog and lactic acid, were somehow connected, they set about…..
Testing for lactic acid
Now testing for lactic acid is a standard lab test, often run, but it has one problem, it only picks up L-lactic acid.
This is the version of lactic acid WE produce and USE.
But, it is not the only version of lactic acid that exists. It turns out, some bacteria, belonging to the family of lactic acid bacteria (LAB), are chemically gifted, and they can produce D-lactic acid.
D / L ? What’s the difference ?
Lactic acid flavours
To all intents and purposes, they are the same molecule. If you counted up the various atoms, you’d get the same atom count……..
But, if you try to put them on top of one another, they’re actually different.
Effectively they are mirror images of each other.
Now from a chemical perspective, this is irrelevant, but from a biological perspective, it is actually quite a big deal….
Enzymes are not ambidextrous
We’ve got the equipment to process and use, L-lactic acid…… and it’s widely used and pretty useful. But, we don’t have the equipment to process and use D-lactic acid.
So we pee it out.
But to get it out, we have to deal with it’s “acidic” nature.
This is not particularly a problem………
Except when there is a lot of the stuff.
Can be disrupted……
And these disruptions, can put stress on the system.
In the moment…………
Possibly leaving neurons, struggling to fire ?
D-lactic acid behind brain fog
When the team tested for D-lactic acid in the urine of the patients with brain fog.
It showed up.
At significantly higher levels in 2/3rds of them, following a high carbohydrate meal.
Implicating their gut residents in their fuzzy thinking…….
Wiping the slate clean
The team decided to take aim at the good guys, gone rogue.
Prescribing a course of antibiotics, when there was evidence of bacteria overgrowth in the small intestine, which was established using a breath test and duodenal aspirate culture.
And forbidding continued probiotic use for everyone.
NO PILLS. NO YOGHURT.
I know, I know, it’s counter-intuitive………….
But it worked !
The brain fog lifted
85 % of patients reported complete resolution of their brain fog, 6 months later.
Complete resolution !
To put this in perspective, 4 of the people in this study, had been forced to quit their jobs, because of fuzzy thinking.
Good guys go rogue
Lactic acid producing bacteria are NOT bad guys.
They’ve been part of the human diet for centuries, as we’ve enjoyed the fruits of their labour, in a variety of fermented foods, such as yoghurt, sauerkraut and pickles.
But taking them as pills, multiple times a day, is.
Probiotics are considered safe.
And there are clinical trials, showing that specific strains of bacteria can help improve gut health.
But when you’re swallowing your probiotic pill, multiple times a day…………….
Bare in mind, you’re swallowing billions of bacteria.
These bacteria have a “mind” of their own.
Excessive and indiscriminate use of probiotics, particularly if you’ve got a gut that isn’t moving along nicely, has the potential to do more harm than good.
NOTE : Two things that can slow up gut moving, increasing the odds of your lactic acid bacteria, going rouge, are regular use of pain killers (opioids) and acid-reflux drugs (proton pump inhibitors).
To cultivate your microflora – you can swallow a probiotic pill or you can re-wild your gut, with a bucket of dirt in your bathroom. It’s the cheaper more effective option.
The world tends to chaos – so every now and again, to keep moving forward, you need to take a moment to CLEAN UP. Your brain NEEDS clean up time too.
“I am coming unglued”, is not just away to describe being under pressure. It quite literally describes what is happening inside a chronically stressed brain.