The Healthy Skeptic Podcast – Episode 9

May 10, 2011 in Podcasts | 24 comments

ths podcast logoIn this episode we discuss the gut-brain axis: the relationship between digestive health and cognitive function, memory, depression, anxiety and other mental and behavioral health issues. We cover:

  • the basic physiology involved
  • how inflammation in the gut affects the brain
  • how decreased brain activity compromises gut function
  • how to recognize the signs and symptoms of gut-brain axis dysfunction
  • studies demonstrating gut-brain dysfunction and its effects on health
  • dietary and lifestyle modifications to improve gut-brain function.

I think the gut-brain axis is one of the most important and least recognized factors in human health. If you follow a good diet (Paleo, Primal, Perfect Health Diet, etc.) and you’re still experiencing gut symptoms, it’s likely you have a gut-brain axis issue.


{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

patty May 10, 2011 at 12:55 pm

Chris – you are doing amazing work and loved this podcast!


Wendy Schwartz May 10, 2011 at 2:31 pm

Hi Chris,

I follow you on twitter and was very interested in what you had to say here because it related to me a lot having fibromyalgia which is a neurological condition and intestinal problems. I read a fabulous book recently called the original diet that discusses some of the more natural probiotics found in dirt and also discusses the toxic nature of many plants. Since adopting the fruit only Paleo approach recommended in the book, I am noticing an improvement in my previously resistant GI problems. I wanted to share this with you as I think you may be able to help those who tend to be more resistant to GI improvement.



James May 11, 2011 at 3:40 pm

Do you mean that you eat no veggies and only fruit?


James May 10, 2011 at 3:34 pm

When do you trial and introduction of safe starches for someone on the GAPS diet. Would you just have them on it for a few weeks then introduce it? Also, would it be a good idea to start out with the less dense starches (calories wise) such as yucca, rutabagas, parsnips, etc, for a while before trying the denser starches like yams or white rice?

And wouldnt it be harder to set up the proper flora levels in the gut including starch in the diet ( I thought that is why she cuts it out)? Or do you only include starch after a certain amount of time has passed and you believe that the flora levels have normalised and some gut healing has taken place? Also, if the low carb basis of gapskills offbadbacteria, would it not kill off good bacteria as well just due to lack of raw materials for them? Is it more about re-balancing the bacteria levels so when you do choose to re-introduce carbs you will have the proper bacteria in your gut to grow off of it?


Jamie May 10, 2011 at 5:56 pm

Thank you very much for this very amazing, useful, informative podcast.


Release the Kraken! May 11, 2011 at 11:25 am

Very informative and helpful podcast. Thanks, Chris!

You recommended exercise as a method of improving blood flow to the brain. Would particular kinds of exercise be better or worse for this purpose? Would the intensity of the exercise matter? E.g. would slow walks be as good as weightlifting for improving blood flow to the brain? Should someone who is concerned about blood flow to the brain just follow your advice to exercise like our ancestors did?


DougL May 11, 2011 at 11:27 am

For the host re his freezer. We too have a freezer full of meat and food. We put in a freezer alarm and it goes off when it is out of bounds.

Go to amazon and search for freezer alarm and you will get lots of options to choose from.


aryaman May 11, 2011 at 10:14 pm

so does one conclude that the diets prescribed by you do not fix this gut brain axis issue?


Chris Kresser May 12, 2011 at 7:09 am

Proper diet – especially eliminating food toxins that damage the gut, and eating fermented foods that encourage healthy gut flora – is a huge part of the solution. But it’s often not enough once someone is locked in to that cycle.


James May 12, 2011 at 8:46 am

What do you shift your focus onto then once you have decided that is the case?? More so on stress management, etc?


Kari W May 12, 2011 at 7:37 am

Hi Chris -
VERY informative podcast – thanks!
Wanted to ask you what your specific recommendations would be for nutrition given that I just received results from various saliva, urine and stool testing that shows I have Adrenal Fatigue stage 3 (typically I believe you need to eat frequently and a slightly higher carb intake, so that the adrenals don’t have to work to convert other macronutrients to energy)…Plus I have leaky gut and all the brain issues that go along with it (anxiety, depression, lack of focus, poor memory – I’m just in general feeling like a dried up old dish rag)…Plus I have Candida overgrowth AND an abnormal bacterial species called Enterococcus.
So — with the gut issues and particularly candida, I should be doing Paleo? (which is what I’ve been doing for a year), but also avoiding all fruit, starchy veggies and vinegar/fermented stuff?
And in addition – should I cut portions and calories way back and give my poor stomach a rest? OR, because I’ve been so nutrient starved for years w/ leaky gut, should I eat extra in hopes that some of it will absorb?
I’m afraid that my adrenals won’t heal on such low-carb. I’ve cut out almost all exercise so that I don’t need that glycogen replenishment, yet I am a personal trainer and crossfit coach.
Oh, I just feel like crap and need to get better soon. I do work with an acupuncturist and have for 3 yrs.
I pretty much have my ducks in a row on the stuff you usually cover here – nutrition, exercise, sleep, stress managment. I’m just trying dial in on removing any nutritional stress, plus determine additional internal stressors.

thanks Chris – can’t wait for your ‘healthy baby code’ course. I’m on the list.



Ken D Berry MD May 13, 2011 at 7:23 am

The gut-brain axis is the most under important, yet ignored, problem in modern medicine today.
Main-stream medicines failure to understand this foundation-stone of human health is shameful.


Brenden May 13, 2011 at 1:28 pm

Hi Chris,

Just wanted to say that the podcast keeps getting better and better. I started listening in the beginning and although the content was awesome, it was a little rough to listen to.
You now are very engaging and easy to listen to. I look forward to each one you put out and are great in rotation with Robb and Sarah.



Samson May 14, 2011 at 2:24 am

Could you tell me the name and authors of the books on fermentation? i only understood wild fermentation.


Chris Kresser May 14, 2011 at 7:02 am

Seymour Katz.


Julia Martin May 20, 2011 at 8:23 am

Sandor Katz


Caquin May 15, 2011 at 3:21 am

I was really excited to learn about the Axis.
Admittedly I could not stay focused. I doubt it was a symptom gut brain axis.
You gotta make this thing sound less pedantic, gotta work on voice and pitch, and finally a little bit of banter would break this up.

You have a lot to offer. Take a recording of this podcast to your friends and family members who are willing to offer forthright, critical advice.


Donna Chang May 17, 2011 at 11:44 pm

Hi Chris,
Hi Chris,

Agreed with above commentor that your podcasts are getting more engaging. You and Danny (and others) make a good team. Keep up with the good work!
This episode reminded me of this quote from the Yellow Emperor’s Inner Classic.
“In ancient times, people lived simply. They hunted, fished, and were with nature all day. When the weather cooled, they became active to fend off the cold. When the weather heated up in summer, they retreated to cool places. Internally, their emotions were calm and peaceful, and they were without excessive desires. Externally, they did not have the stress of today. They lived without greed and desire, close to nature. They maintained jing shen nei suo, or inner peace and concentration of mind and spirit. This prevented pathogens from invading. Therefore they did not need herbs to treat their internal state, nor did they need acupuncture to treat the exterior. When they did contract disease they simply guided properly the emotions and spirit and redirected the energy flow, using the method of zhu yuo to heal the condition.”

I am sure you’ve known it already, just want to share with the readers.


p.s. I am going to Datis’ Renewing the Aging Brain seminar this thursday, perhaps I will see you there?



Chris Kresser May 18, 2011 at 8:29 am

Hi Donna. Yep, I’ll be there. Good to hear from you.


James May 19, 2011 at 5:06 pm

I have the chance to get fresh colostrum all summer long. Have you ever utilized this to help heal the gut? Would you introduce it slowly like kefir (tsp’s at a time and titrate up)? SO far I can eat sour cream, butter, raw cream, and small amounts of kefir A-OK. Still only doing veggies, fats, and meats besides that though. No fruit or starch yet. How long or until you usually trial an intro of starch or fruit?

Thanks for all you are doing.


jo May 24, 2011 at 7:36 am

Chris: Can you tell me what tests can completely rule out parasites? I was in Jakarta for 4 years and had an undiagnosed (nothing came on fecal tests), digestive episode similar to cyclospora. It has been two year of poor health, currently experience wrist, hand and feet stiffness and fatigue. I am a fit celiac, in good control of diet and paleo lifestyle. My blood levels have gone crazy the last two year, changing thyroid levels (stable for 20 years), low vit D, folic Acid, B-12 (despite injections). I worry something is going on. What test can I get to completely rule out any left over visitors from Indonesia, Blood culture?
Just to be safe, can I do any type of full purge, either digestive cleanse or anitbiotic (only last resort).


Chris Kresser May 24, 2011 at 7:00 pm

I use Metametrix panel #2105.


Vicki K May 30, 2011 at 5:06 pm

I have fibro and cfs as well as leaky gut, Candida overgrowth in gut, fungus under nails, hypothyroidism, neuropathy, myofasclal pain disorder (neck n shoulders) from a bad whiplash long ago, arthritis, and a 2 bleeds TBI 2 yrs ago (skull hard fall on concrete, coup-contre-coup). I am post-meno age 68.
For Leaky Gut they say use fermented products. For fibro they say do NOT use fermented products (the “mother” is mold). ?? I know you recommend fermented for Leaky Gut, but what if you have fibro, I don’t know what to do!!
An alt doc put me onto Doug Kaufman for Leaky Gut, do you agree with him??
If I got one consultation with you concerning these matters, you just rattle off what I should do to feel better/get well, and I will write it all down, what could I expect to pay for your wisdom and time/consultation?

My husband is a decorated combat veteran with PTSD, neuropathy, immune dysfunction, pansinusitis, and and I am his caregiver, we run to the ER all the time, so stress is very high in our life. He is on high opiates Rx. (terminal).


We are currently trying to eat Paleo w/o sugar, flour, soy, dairy, and yeast. We don’t always make it.


Ian June 11, 2011 at 12:27 pm

Excellent podcast. I’d recommend trying a traditional chinese doctor before the usual medical GP, nice to hear Chris praising chinese medicine.


Cancel reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post:

Designed by Evan Haas & Soy Pak