This is part two of my story of having my gut bacteria tested by a San Francisco company called uBiome.
If you missed the first part yesterday, it’s here:
Anyway as I was saying, one of uBiome’s in-house experts, Richard Sprague, took me through my report after I’d submitted my “poopçon” sample.
Fascinatingly, Richard explained that I had no Bifidobacterium at all.
Now, Bifidobacterium is a genus of bacteria which most people have, but I don’t.
Even more fascinatingly, Richard went on to say that low levels of Bifidobacterium can be associated with low mood and anxiety.
Most of the experiments in this area have been done with laboratory mice, but that shouldn’t put us off because mice and humans share many aspects of their physiology.
So low levels of Bifidobacterium may be indicative of low mood.
What about *no* levels, then?
As I said, wow.
Another intriguing piece of learning for me was that my bacterial diversity is very poor compared to most people’s.
It’s generally accepted that having plenty of different bacterial varieties is a good thing, but I’m way down in the 12th percentile, which means that something like 90% of people have more diverse microbiomes than me.
Without going into too much detail, one reason for this could be that I take a Lansoprazole capsule every day.
Have done for years.
They were prescribed by a doctor ages ago in an effort to cure an intermittent swallowing problem I’d had for years, and they certainly seemed to work in this respect.
I’d even been hospitalised twice before I started taking Lansoprazole, but haven’t needed any emergency admissions since then.
Lansoprazole, however, is a proton-pump inhibitor, a type of medication which significantly reduces gastric acid production.
You might imagine that an acidic environment wouldn’t be one in which microorganisms would flourish, but bacteria are funny old things.
Sometimes they actually need low pH (acidic) conditions.
So I feel a self-experiment coming on.
I’ve ordered myself a bottle of Bifidobacterium supplements, currently sitting in the fridge awaiting use, and I need to make a decision about the Lansoprazole (which isn’t a prescription medication in the USA, unlike in the UK. You can buy it in the supermarket.)
My plan is to take the supplements for a month, then get my gut bacteria checked again, while also tracking my mood.
I’ll report back, but I already find this gut-brain connection deeply interesting.
Definitely remember, as I said yesterday, that I’m neither a doctor nor a psychiatrist, so please make up your own mind about what I’ve described to you.
But wouldn’t it be truly remarkable if, in the future, depression could be treated with a daily pot of probiotic yoghurt?