Gut Health for Mental Health + Microbiome Wisdom | Kriben Govender {Podcast #032}

An exciting area of modern science is exploring the connection between the gut and our brain. They are intimately connected.

The bi-directional communication pathway in us has been dubbed the gut-brain axis.

There’s plenty of evidence that stress and violence will negatively affect one’s microbiome, mood, immunity and bodily functions.

According to Ayurveda, 85%-99% of health concerns originate as digestive imbalance - "manda agni"

The collective of micro-organisms that dominate the human body, the microbiome, play a very large role in gut health, mental health, and basically all biological functions.

We are 90% bugs. Most of the cells in our body are microbial.

We need to get more familiar with the microbes that dominate our gut.

About Kirben Govender

Kriben Govender, is a Food Scientist, Registered Nutritionist and Founder of Nourishme Organics, a company specialising in Gut Health and Mitochondrial health-focused products and Allele Microbiome – a provider of cutting edge Metagenomic Stool Testing and Deuterium Testing. 

With more than 20 years of Food industry experience in the field of Research and Development, Quality Assurance and Procurement, Kriben intimately understands the food supply chain and the interaction between diet and the gut microbiome. He has personally visited more than 100 food processing sites across the world. Kriben is an expert in the art of making fermented foods like Kefir, Kombucha and fermented vegetable etc and was a Judge in the 2019 RASV Australia Food Awards.

He is the host of one of Australia's leading Nutrition Podcasts - The Gut Health Gurus Podcast  where he frequently interviews health experts from around the world.

In This Episode We Discuss

Kriben’s current anxiety and gut issues that are manifesting in the stressful times of COVID-19.

Kriben’s struggle with anxiety and depression

Then corporate work further exacerbating his stress.

Taking a nuclear anti-biotic which changed his mental health overnight.

He was suicidal and ready to end his life, then learnt about the gut-brain axis.

What is the Microbiome

The collective of microbiome - Bacteria, yeast, viruses parasites.

The gut-brain axis is a bi-directional communication pathway.

  • Most of the communication is going from gut to brain via the vegas nerve into the brain.
  • Stress can alter the micro-organisms in the gut.

There is no such thing as a good and bad parasite or virus. It is all about harmony and balance.

 Some when out of balance can create disease.

The Important Purpose of Viruses in Nature

  • They are the only things that can quickly change our genome.
  • COVID-19 in problematic because it is novel - we have never been exposed to it and have not developed herd immunity to it.
  • Viruses are natures
  • Scientists have been using Corona viruses to implement gene therapy protocols for many years.

Mitochondria

  • Ancient microbes
  • Modern mitochondrial insults - nnEMF, chemicals, air pollution, artificial lighting, unclean water, over consumption of sugar.
  • Damaged mitochondria leads to poor immunity.

GABA in the Gut

  • Gamma-Aminobutyric acid - an amino acid produced by the brain.
  • Chief inhibitory neurotransmitter.
  • Reducing neuronal excitability - relaxation, reduces stress, increases calm, balances mood, alleviates pain and helps with sleep. - “The brakes of the brain.”
  • Responsible for the regulation of muscle tone.
  • Food sources - Kefir, yoghurt, whole grain, walnuts, almonds, citrus, berries, spinach, broccoli.

Seratonin

A study showed 95% of serotonin production occurs in the gut.

5-hydroxytryptamine receptors or 5-HT receptors, or serotonin receptors are derived from the gut.

Selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) inhibits 5-HT re-uptake (reabsorption of the neurotransmitter - important because it allows for recycling of neurotransmitters and how their release lasts).

Dopamine

Responsible for cognitive functions such as decision making, attention, memory, motivation, and reward.

A study showed how Dopamine is produced in the gut by showing a "considerable urinary excretion of dopamine metabolites indicates that large amounts of dopamine are produced in unknown locations of the body."

Microbes affect how people metabolise these compounds, regulating the amount that circulates in the blood and brain.

Enteric Nervous System

  • Second brain. Located in the gut. A nervous system the size of a cats brain. All your nerve plexuses end in your gut.
  • Modulated peristalsis, going to the toilet.
  • Everything starts from umbilicus.

Butyrate / Butyric Acid and Leaky Gut

  • From butyric acid - a health beneficial short chain fatty acid.
  • It got its name from the latin word for butter, butyrum.
  • Your gut bacteria produces butyrate from prebiotic fibres in plant foods. Specifically clostridium butyricum.
  • While is was first discovered in butter, ghee is the highest source of this superfood.
  • Reduces anxiety and depression. Provides neuro-protective effects.
  • Helps digestion by maintaining integrity of the GI mucosa and gut lining.
    • Can plug a leaky gut.
    • Intestinal permeability - in a healthy barrier, tight functions are relaxed allowing water and nutrients to pass through.
    • It is the main energy source for colonocytes, the cells which make up your gut lining. - Unlike other cells in the body which use glucose (sugar) as the main energy source.
    • Colonocytes help provide an oxygen-free environment in which beneficial gut microbes thrive.
  • Inhibits growth of unwanted bacteria in the gut and interfered with the growth of toxic bacteria.
  • Anti-inflammatory.
  • Encourages growth of the beneficial bacteria like Bifidobacterirum.
  • Supports and regulates healthy bowel motions.
  • Supports the health of intestinal mucosa during inflammatory bowel conditions.
  • Supports health cholesterol.
  • Increases cellular energy production.
  • Reduction in fatty tissue and hunger levels.

Triggers for leaky gut

Improve tight junctions in the gut lining

Flavanoids (fresh fruits), omega 3 fatty acids, sea-weed, glutamine (fermented veggies, broccoli, bone broth collagen peptides), sulforafan (broccoli and broccoli sprouts), vitamin D (sun), Vitamin A (cod liver oil, sardines), Zinc (oysters), Butyrate, sulforaphane, some probiotics (MegaSporeBiotic), and Kefir.

Circadian Medicine

  • Light signalling.
  • Reduce artificial blue light, especially after sunset, since that increases cortisol and reduces melatonin.
  • Use blue light blocking glasses. Both Kriben and I recommend RA optics (discount code: VITALVEDA)
  • Download iris tech to shield your computer screen from blue light.
  • Your digest fire (agni) is resulted by the sun. Have a good lunch and light dinner.
  • The light hitting your skin while you eat has an effect on digestion. - Beware of the light your are eating under - eat under natural light, and not under artificial light. This particularly effect blood glucose.

General Principles for Eating:

  • Whole foods, avoid packaged foods.
  • Fresh foods. Avoid left overs.
  • Eat local foods. Foods that are grown and sourced locally.
  • Relax and eat.

Kefir

  • Countless health benefits.
  • Two types: Milk Kefir and Water Kefit (vegan).
  • How to Make: Simply add 1tsp of kefir grains into a glass of 250ml milk, leave for 24 hours and strain. Then pass the yoghurt through a sieve, and keep the kefir grains for next time.
  • What are Kefir grains - symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast. Scientists can’t replicate the grains in labs. People replicate and share the grain amongst each other.
  • They replicate. Kriben hypothesises they found the the kefir grains in a stomach (biofilm) of a goat. Water kefir grains come from a type of cactus.
  • Around 15 strains of bacteria in water kefir.

Microbes are sensitive to Sattva (pure state of mind and consciousness)

  • There’s plenty of evidence that stress and violence will negatively affect one’s microbiome, mood, immunity and bodily functions.
  • Sattvic bugs. - sattvic lifestyle.
  • Spiritual people.
  • We are 90% bugs. Our consciousness impacts that.

Rhythmicity

  • Very emerging science, funnily enough, a key Ayurvedic recommendation for health and to balance vata.
  • Consistent and regular waking times, sleeping times, light exposure, eating times, bowel motions.

Resources

Nourish Me Organics - Shop, podcast, blog and more Discount code on kits: VITALVEDA

Blue Light Blocking Glasses by RA Optics - discount code: VITALVEDA

Iris - Computer software for Eye protection


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Golden Milk Elixir

Just like grandma used to cook up for you with love and foresight. This nightly sleep aid and anabolic tonic holds great wisdom, incorporating one of the most nourishing foods: cows milk, with the intelligence of natures herbs and spices. You’ll sleep like a baby and super charge overnight.

Dreaming of a Good Night’s Sleep?

This Ayurvedic remedy will reduce your stress to allow you to switch off and gain a more restful and undisturbed sleep.

Supersede the Stress

Insomnia, which can increase the risk of most degenerative diseases(1) is mostly caused by stress. When we are under stress, cortisol levels (stress fighting hormones) do not decrease, rather they keep us revved up throughout the night and we don’t have the energy to calm them back down.

Modern science has once again proved ancient wisdom by showing milk has certain peptides that lower cortisol and support sleep by 50%. The improvements of sleep are remarkable:

  • Promotes deeper sleep (3)
  • Supports more restorative sleep (3)
  • Provides relaxation at the level needed for sleep (4)
  • Calms anxiety (4)
  • Improves numerous stress markers (5)
  • These peptides further support digestion, emotional state, cognitive function and even cardiovascular function. (6)

Interestingly, these peptides in milk activate GABA receptors.(4) Pharmaceutical drugs that are widely used as sedatives for stress, anxiety, and sleep target these same GABA receptors!(7)

Ojas Building

Even if you sleep well, this night-time tonic will not only upgrade your sleep to be more deep and restful, but also build your Ojas.

Ojas (OH-jas) is considered to be the most refined by-product of digestion, said to reside in the heart. Ayurveda considers ojas to be a bio-celestial substance that is our vital essence.

Our vitality, immunity, vigour, skin, sleep, digestion, spirituality and physical strength are all directly influenced by our reserve of ojas.

Ojas builds our inner silence. It Increases the ability to genetically connect with the circadian rhythms allowing the body to resonate with the rhythms and thrive. If your body is under stress, emergency alarm bells will keep ringing (flight or fight response/sympathetic nervous system) disconnecting you from the genetic ability to hear these rhythms.

Building ojas is an art. Yoga, pranayama breathing exercises, meditation, spending time in nature, sleeping at the right times, laughing, showing love and affection and giving to others, spending time being creative, relaxing, and doing things that make you happy all build ojas.

Perhaps one of the best ways to consistently build ojas is to eat a diet of fresh, unprocessed whole foods in the appropriate season.
Further, there are certain foods and herbs in Ayurveda that are great ojas-builders. These were traditionally blended with warm milk and taken before bed as a sleep aid and an ojas-builder.

 

Ayurveda’s Super Sleep Recipe:

  • Boil 3/4 cup of unhamogensied cows milk + 3/4 cup of water + 2 strands of saffron + 1 chopped date + 3 crushed and peeled almonds. Boil till it reduces to approximately 1 cup or till it fully foams up.
  • After the milk has boiled. Add:
  • 1/4tsp cardamom powder
  • 1/4tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1/4tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • pinch of black pepper
  • 1/2tsp ghee.
  • 1/4 tsp Ashwagandha powder (optional for more ojas building and calming effect)
  • 1/4 tsp Shatavari powder (optional for more ojas building and calming effect)
  • pinch of Ojo or Samadhi (Raju family herbal preparation)
    (Can modify herbs and spices according to season and body constitution).

Sitr well, then drink and enjoy.

When to Drink It:

  • Have between dinner and sleep - approximately 45-60mins after dinner and 45-60mins before bed.
  • You can even make this your dinner.
  • Drink one cup of the golden milk each night for 3 months to rebuild ojas levels and support sleep patterns.
  • You can also have this in the morning approximately 45 minutes before breakfast or make it your breakfast, (good for people who don’t have an appetite in the morning). It is also a great replacement to coffee.

"But I Don’t Do Dairy"

If you are intolerant to dairy, it is probably indigestion, some weakness and/or your mind getting the better over you by 'accepting' the intolerance. Additionally, most milk is difficult to digest because it is unnecessarily homogenised, pasteurised the wrong way, added chemicals, pesticides, preservatives and anti-biotic’s.

However, drink the right milk and correct your agni, and you may find you can slowly introduce this medicinal lactation back into your diet.

Most places you can find milk that is non-homogenised without all these nasty additives. Getting non-pasturised or vat-pasturised, (heated at low temperature for short time), is a bonus, but the main precept is to drink non-homogenised milk. This has become so popular that mainstream supermarkets in Australia and New Zeland are now selling it. Additionally, most health-food stores will have it.

If you are very sensitive to milk, I suggest first correct agni, then slowly introduce dairy by drinking thin Lassi with lunch.

You may substitute substitute coconut or (freshly made) almond milk. Though you won’t get the benefits of the milk peptides, you’ll still have a vehicle for the ojas-building foods and herbs and some calming benefits from the warmth of the milk.

Take this milk to build some resiliency towards the stress that prevents us from sleeping like we should.

It’s tasty, nourishing and a great way to end the day, plus it’ll send you off with the clouds for the night.

References

(1) Occup Med (Lond). 2010
(2) The Open Sleep Journal. 2009;2:128-32
(3) J Dairy Sci. 2000 Jun
(4) Ther Umsh. 2009
(5) Eur J Nutr. 2005
(6) Eur J Clin Nutr. 2007
(7) FASEB J. 2001