The Importance of Your Intestinal Microbes, Links to Autism/ASD With Lack of Bio-Diversity in Gut Bacteria, and Immune Boosting Mechanisms

healthy gutFor most of my career, I have been promoting the use of good probiotics to enhance the quality of the mix of bacteria in your child’s intestinal track.  Naturopaths who seem to have understood this since the beginning of time and some of us who have figured this out (better late than never) have seen the huge benefits our patients have in reduced allergies, reduced neurological issues, eczema, diarrhea, and GI complaints from proper probiotic use.

Here in the USA, with the spread of GMO genes into the food chain, sometimes by accident, it will become increasingly important that we continually populate our GI tracks with healthy bacteria (probiotics) to maintain a healthy balance and crowd out those bacteria that may be producing harmful toxins or other proteins.

Information released from the American Society of Microbiology has brought medical attention to the importance of diversity in gut bacteria and possible symptoms of autism, anxiety, and ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder).  In an article titled “Can chemicals produced by gut bacteria affect children with autism” May 2014, Kang of the Bio-Design Institute of Arizona State states, “Most gut bacteria are beneficial, aiding food digestion, producing vitamins, and protecting against harmful bacteria. If left unchecked, however, harmful bacteria can excrete dangerous metabolites or disturb a balance in metabolites that can affect the gut and the rest of the body, including the brain.”

Kang added, “we suspect that gut microbes may alter levels of neurotransmitter-related metabolites affecting gut-to-brain communication and/or altering brain function.” They found that 7 of the 50 chemicals tested in ASD children were different from those without ASD. ASD children had lower levels of homovanillate and N,N-dimethylglycine, suggesting an imbalance of dopamine.

Children with ASD had significantly lower levels of the metabolites homovanillate and N,N-dimethylglycine. Homovanillate is the breakdown product of dopamine (a major neurotransmitter), indicating an imbalance in dopamine.  There was a higher level of glutamine/glutamate in ASD children.  Since glutamine and glutamate are metabolized to GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), it is thought that an imbalance of GABA to glutamate levels may be affected by gut bacteria and affects anxiety and hyper-excitation.

Gut bacteria are also vital to proper digestion.  In a study published in nature 2014, the bacterium Bacteroides ovatus is able to digest dietary fiber with its complex enzyme systems from lettuce to tomatoes, which we would otherwise be unable to digest. You can read the study here…

A technical and complex study published in PLoS “SIGIRR, a negative regulator of TLR/IL-IR Signalling Promotes Microbiota Dependent Resistance to Colonization by Enteric Bacterial Pathogens”, highlights and confirms the importance of a healthy balance of bacteria in gut for normal immune function and avoiding infections from pathogens. You can read that study here…

We will continue to learn more, which probiotics to take, when and how much, and there is no question, we should always avoid antibiotics if at all possible. Antibiotics taken orally kill off large numbers of our good bacteria, reducing our immune responsiveness and leaving our gut vulnerable to invasion by less friendly bacteria. 

Forgive me for the technical nature of this blog.  These seemed like important topics all relating to probiotics and gut flora.  


Dr. Paul




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