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Mill Valley, CA, United States

Bested A.C.,Oak Street Health | Logan A.C.,CAMNR | Selhub E.M.,Harvard University
Gut Pathogens | Year: 2013

Mental health disorders, depression in particular, have been described as a global epidemic. Research suggests that a variety of lifestyle and environmental changes may be driving at least some portion of the increased prevalence. One area of flourishing research involves the relationship between the intestinal microbiota (as well as the related functional integrity of the gastrointestinal tract) and mental health. In order to appreciate the recent scientific gains in this area, and its potential future directions, it is critical to review the history of the topic. Probiotic administration (e.g. Lactobacillus) and fecal microbiota transfer for conditions associated with depression and anxiety is not a new concept. Here, in the first of a 3-part series, we begin by reviewing the origins of the contemporary research, providing a critical appraisal of what has become a revisionist history of the controversial term 'autointoxication'. We argue that legitimate interests in the gut-brain-microbiota connection were obscured for decades by its association with a narrow historical legacy. Historical perspectives provide a very meaningful context to the current state of the contemporary research as outlined in parts II and III. © 2013 Bested et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. Source


In 21st-century public health, rapid urbanization and mental health disorders are a growing global concern. The relationship between diet, brain function and the risk of mental disorders has been the subject of intense research in recent years. In this review, we examine some of the potential socioeconomic and environmental challenges detracting from the traditional dietary patterns that might otherwise support positive mental health. In the context of urban expansion, climate change, cultural and technological changes and the global industrialization and ultraprocessing of food, findings related to nutrition and mental health are connected to some of the most pressing issues of our time. The research is also of relevance to matters of biophysiological anthropology. We explore some aspects of a potential evolutionary mismatch between our ancestral past (Paleolithic, Neolithic) and the contemporary nutritional environment. Changes related to dietary acid load, advanced glycation end products and microbiota (via dietary choices and cooking practices) may be of relevance to depression, anxiety and other mental disorders. In particular, the results of emerging studies demonstrate the importance of prenatal and early childhood dietary practices within the developmental origins of health and disease concept. There is still much work to be done before these population studies and their mirrored advances in bench research can provide translation to clinical medicine and public health policy. However, the clear message is that in the midst of a looming global epidemic, we ignore nutrition at our peril. © 2014 Logan and Jacka; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. Source


Selhub E.M.,Harvard University | Logan A.C.,CAMNR | Bested A.C.,Oak Street Health
Journal of Physiological Anthropology | Year: 2014

The purposeful application of fermentation in food and beverage preparation, as a means to provide palatability, nutritional value, preservative, and medicinal properties, is an ancient practice. Fermented foods and beverages continue to make a significant contribution to the overall patterns of traditional dietary practices. As our knowledge of the human microbiome increases, including its connection to mental health (for example, anxiety and depression), it is becoming increasingly clear that there are untold connections between our resident microbes and many aspects of physiology. Of relevance to this research are new findings concerning the ways in which fermentation alters dietary items pre-consumption, and in turn, the ways in which fermentation-enriched chemicals (for example, lactoferrin, bioactive peptides) and newly formed phytochemicals (for example, unique flavonoids) may act upon our own intestinal microbiota profile. Here, we argue that the consumption of fermented foods may be particularly relevant to the emerging research linking traditional dietary practices and positive mental health. The extent to which traditional dietary items may mitigate inflammation and oxidative stress may be controlled, at least to some degree, by microbiota. It is our contention that properly controlled fermentation may often amplify the specific nutrient and phytochemical content of foods, the ultimate value of which may associated with mental health; furthermore, we also argue that the microbes (for example, Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria species) associated with fermented foods may also influence brain health via direct and indirect pathways. © 2014 Selhub et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. Source


McCarron P.,National Research Council Canada | Logan A.C.,CAMNR | Giddings S.D.,National Research Council Canada | Quilliam M.A.,National Research Council Canada
Aquatic Biosystems | Year: 2014

Over the last decade the amino acid beta-N-methylamino-L-alanine (BMAA) has come under intense scrutiny. International laboratory and epidemiological research continues to support the hypothesis that environmental exposure to BMAA (e.g., through dietary practices, water supply) can promote the risk of various neurodegenerative diseases. A wide variety of cyanobacteria spp. have previously been reported to produce BMAA, with production levels dependent upon species, strain and environmental conditions. Since spirulina (Arthrospira spp.) is a member of the cyanobacteria phylum frequently consumed via dietary supplements, the presence of BMAA in such products may have public health implications. In the current work, we have analyzed ten spirulina-containing samples for the presence of BMAA; six pure spirulina samples from two separate raw materials suppliers, and four commercially-available multi-ingredient products containing 1.45 g of spirulina per 8.5 g serving. Because of controversy surrounding the measurement of BMAA, we have used two complementary liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) methods: one based on reversed phase LC (RPLC) with derivatization and the other based on hydrophilic interaction LC (HILIC). Potential matrix effects were corrected for by internal standardization using a stable isotope labeled BMAA standard. BMAA was not detected at low limits of detection (80 ng/g dry weight) in any of these product samples. Although these results are reassuring, BMAA analyses should be conducted on a wider sample selection and, perhaps, as part of ongoing spirulina production quality control testing and specifications. © 2014 McCarron et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. Source


Logan A.C.,CAMNR
Journal of Physiological Anthropology | Year: 2015

Advances in research concerning the mental health implications of dietary patterns and select nutrients have been remarkable. At the same time, there have been rapid increases in the understanding of the ways in which non-pathogenic microbes can potentially influence many aspects of human health, including those in the mental realm. Discussions of nutrition and microbiota are often overlapping. A separate, yet equally connected, avenue of research is that related to natural (for example, green space) and built environments, and in particular, how they are connected to human cognition and behaviors. It is argued here that in Western industrial nations a 'disparity of microbiota' might be expected among the socioeconomically disadvantaged, those whom face more profound environmental forces. Many of the environmental forces pushing against the vulnerable are at the neighborhood level. Matching the developing microbiome research with existing environmental justice research suggests that grey space may promote dysbiosis by default. In addition, the influence of Westernized lifestyle patterns, and the marketing forces that drive unhealthy behaviors in deprived communities, might allow dysbiosis to be the norm rather than the exception in those already at high risk of depression, subthreshold (subsyndromal) conditions, and subpar mental health. If microbiota are indeed at the intersection of nutrition, environmental health, and lifestyle medicine (as these avenues pertain to mental health), then perhaps the rapidly evolving gut-brain-microbiota conversation needs to operate through a wider lens. In contrast to the more narrowly defined psychobiotic, the term eco-psychotropic is introduced. © 2015 Logan; licensee BioMed Central. Source

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