Your Gut (bacteria) Influence Your Mood…new study

Disruptions in microbiome bacteria involved in the synthesis of neurotransmitters such as GABA, serotonin, dopamine, etc are associated with depression and other mental wellness issues…

Europe PMC is an archive of life sciences journal literature.
— Read on europepmc.org/article/ppr/ppr354202

Beauty and the Biome – WSJ covers Microbiome (again)!

In yet another article, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) is writing about the microbiome. In previous articles here and here, the WSJ has covered the link between the gut microbiome, mood and mental wellness – and in this recent one from June 8, they tackle the links between our microbiome and both immunity and skin health.

You can read the original HERE (with pictures of a number of topical products to support the “skin microbiome”) – and/or read a highlighted version of the article below with my links.

What Is Your Microbiome? A Wellness Trend Taking On Post-Covid Urgency
Probiotics aren’t just good for your gut: How hyping “good” bacteria can boost immunity and protect your skin

By Fiorella Valdesolo
June 8, 2021


Call it a sign of the times: Microbiomes—the network of bacteria, fungi, viruses and other microorganisms (or microbiota) that our bodies play host to—have been getting more attention of late. Though they’re known for aiding digestion, their role in healthy immune function may be what’s currently boosting their reputation. “With the emergence of Covid, we’re all becoming aware of just how important it [the microbiome] is,” says New York–based dermatologist Whitney Bowe. A recent study by the Chinese University in Hong Kong that compared data from 27 recovering Covid-19 patients to healthy samples found that microbiome imbalance was linked to the severity and length of Covid cases. (Those with Covid lacked certain types of good bacteria.) Researchers at the University of Connecticut are continuing to examine the link between the Covid vaccine and the microbiome.

The intestinal, or gut, microbiome is best known, but other areas of the body, like the mouth, skin and vagina, have their own as well. And now there’s a renewed push from beauty brands in their messaging around the microbiome and the health of your skin. “We’re very much gearing up for this [the microbiome] to be the next hot topic,” says Michelle Connelly, vice president of merchandising and planning at beauty store Credo. While popular awareness of the gut microbiome has been growing for the past decade, a broader understanding of the skin microbiome and how it connects to the gut is in its early stages. “Consumers are familiar with the concept that they should take probiotics as an internal supplement,” says Connelly, “but the connection to skin care is still vague.”

A properly functioning skin microbiome, composed of bacteria known also as skin flora, is critical to skin’s health: It fortifies the skin’s barrier, trapping moisture, shielding against infection and environmental aggressors and reducing inflammation. When the microbiome is lacking in good bacteria, the skin’s barrier function is compromised. The result is what Bowe calls “leaky skin,” her riff on the term “leaky gut,” a colloquial expression for increased intestinal permeability. “Leaky skin becomes dehydrated, and all those irritants and allergens and pollutants and pathogens are able to penetrate and trigger inflammation,” she says. Bowe says inflammation can manifest in various ways, showing up as acne, eczema or accelerated aging. And it’s often the cause of what people identify as “sensitive skin,” which, according to a 2019 Frontiers in Medicine study, 60 to 70 percent of American women and 50 to 60 percent of American men report having.

“Consumers are familiar with the concept that they should take probiotics as an internal supplement, but the connection to skin care is still vague.”
— Michelle Connelly
Diet, chronic stress and environmental factors like UV light and pollution all impact the skin’s microbiome, as do skin-care products. “Today we have never used so many products and yet our skin has never been worse,” says Elsa Jungman, founder of the Dr. Elsa Jungman skin-care line. “The more we interfere with our microbiome by cleansing and layering skin care, the more we get rid of those essential nutrients for it to function properly.” Overcleansing and overexfoliating can have particularly detrimental effects. Bowe calls out cleansers with high pH or harsh sulfates. “They strip the skin of the healthy fats our microbiome needs to survive and thrive,” she says. Mechanical face brushes and grainy exfoliants are also major disruptors. Using too many products with highly active ingredients, like retinol and various acids, can pose a problem as well. “They can disrupt the skin barrier and negatively impact the microbiome if you overuse them, layer them or use them too frequently,” says Bowe, who tells patients to follow a formula of “push, push, recover, recover.” “On the first push night you exfoliate with something like an alpha or beta hydroxy acid, on the second you use a retinol, and then on nights three and four you just focus on nourishing and repairing with things like glycerin, jojoba oil and squalene.”

A number of brands have made supporting the microbiome a central tenet of their formulations. Beekman 1802 features goat milk as its marquee ingredient because, the company says, it has a pH level similar to that of human skin and won’t disrupt its acid mantle, the oil, sweat and acid film on the skin’s surface that, with the microbiome, acts as a shield. “This might sound weird coming from a skin-care company, but the very best thing you can do for the health of your microbiome is to do as little as possible,” says founder Brent Ridge, a physician who specializes in the field of aging and geriatric medicine. Beekman 1802 sought out a Microbiome-friendly accreditation—a test by MyMicrobiome, a company co-founded by microbiologist Kristin Neumann, that examines whether products maintain the skin’s balance. Ridge hopes the certification helps provide clarity for consumers. Jungman’s line was granted the same accreditation, and now Jungman, who holds a Ph.D. in skin pharmacology, is developing a swab test with microbiologist Kelly Haas so consumers can check their skin microbiome at home and get personalized reports.

“This might sound weird coming from a skin-care company, but the very best thing you can do for the health of your microbiome is to do as little as possible.”
— Brent Ridge
But it’s not just about slapping on products with probiotics, or beneficial bacteria, says aesthetician Kristina Holey, who frequently incorporates gut analysis into her treatments with clients. “In skin care we focus this laser light on one thing and we say this does everything, but it doesn’t work that way,” says Holey’s frequent collaborator Marie-Veronique Nadeau, a chemist. “It’s about creating the environment in which probiotics can thrive.” And that goes more than skin deep: The concept of what is commonly referred to as the gut-brain-skin axis holds that these systems are interconnected. In her book Younger Skin Starts in the Gut, L.A.-based naturopathic doctor Nigma Talib speaks to how food and lifestyle can impact our microbiomes. “Stress, alcohol, commonly used medications, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and our diets can determine whether our bacteria is mostly formed of healthy bacteria, or the opposite,” Talib writes. She points to an Ohio State University trial using mice, published in Brain, Behavior, and Immunity in 2010, that showed inflammation-producing bacteria thrived during periods of stress.

“Skin cannot live on skin care alone,” says Rachel Behm, founder of the new brand Layers. Behm specifies the importance of eating a diet that supports healthy microbes, including a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fermented foods, and limiting refined sugars, artificial sweeteners and processed carbs. “A recent study [of 647 participants in Germany, published in the British Journal of Dermatology] showed that if you alter your diet you can actually directly change the microbes in your skin,” says Bowe. “The science surrounding the microbiome will change the entire way we think about the skin and take care of it.”

Cookies for Breakfast!

Boosted Breakfast Cookies (with oatmeal)

May is Mental Health Awareness Month!

What could help us feel better than a warm cookie?

Yesterday, I shared my recipe for Healthy Breakfast Cookies with Brooke at KUTV’s Fresh Living – see the segment here

They contain citrus flavonoids (to boost brain neurotransmitters in your first brain) – as well as bananas and oatmeal (to nourish your gut microbiome – aka your 2nd brain), and dark chocolate (for heart health – aka your “3rd brain”).

So – these cookies can help to boost your entire Gut-Heart-Brain-Axis for ultimate Mental Fitness.

Yes, you can make cookies for breakfast (or whenever the urge strikes), and in one bowl. This simple cookie is at its best warm and soft.

20 min – makes 4 cookies (increase amounts for extra cookies)

1 extra ripe banana

1⁄4 orange, zest + juice

2 scoops Amare GBX Protein powder (any flavor)

1⁄2 cups oatmeal

2 T. sesame seeds, toasted

2 T. dates, chopped Pinch of salt

1⁄2 tsp. olive oil for baking sheet or parchment paper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place peeled bananas in a bowl and use a fork to mash into a paste. 

Add in orange, Amare GBX Protein powder, oatmeal, sesame seeds, dates, and salt. 

Mash into the bananas.

Rub oil on a baking sheet and then spoon or roll out balls of breakfast cookie dough onto the baking sheet, with 2 inches between each cookie ball.

Bake for 15 minutes. 

When the cookies finish remove them from the baking sheet with a spatula and allow them to cool. Store in a closed container to avoid drying out

NOTE = this recipe is SUPER easy to modify by adding/substituting ingredients based on your preferences. For instance, for this one that I did for KUTV’s Fresh Living, I did a half/half blend of chocolate/vanilla Amare GBX Protein, a combo of nuts/seeds (cashews, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds), and a couple handfuls of dark chocolate chips – YUM!

Calling All Health Professionals – Become a Certified Mental Wellness Coach (CMWC)!

The CMWC is a streamlined, focused, intense course spanning 16 hours of instruction in the role of diet and lifestyle factors in balancing the Microbiome-Gut-Heart-Brain-Axis for improved Mental Wellness.

We held our first CMWC course in Wisconsin at the end of April and had great feedback about the content.

Our next course will be held June 2-3-4-5 in Plymouth MA – and the location will be our new mental fitness retreat at 3 Waves Wellness.

Total costs are:

  • Tuition = $1,200 per student
  • Lodging = $1,000 for 4 nights at 3Waves Wellness – and if you want to arrive earlier or stay longer, we can arrange that too! (other area lodging is also available).
  • Food = included breakfast, lunch, dinner, refreshments
  • Fun = included whale watch, history walk, kayak/SUP, beach day (weather dependent)
  • CMWC course materials (from Functional Foods Institute) = $299 (details below)
    • 16 CEUs
    • Textbook = Functional Foods and Mental Health ($150 for e-book)
    • Membership in Functional Foods Institute ($99/year)
    • Certificate Fee ($50)

Our location is a casual coastal “bed & breakfast” with 7 rooms – so we can host you right here and everyone can hang out together while we learn about and improve our own mental wellness.

Our on-site room options include 3 queens with private baths, 2 kings with private baths, 3rd floor suite with 2 private king rooms sharing one bath…

…but since we have limited rooms and reserve on a first-come basis, you might also want to check out some of the area hotels? There are a number of options at every price point – just search “hotels in Plymouth MA”

You can see a bit about Our location (3Waves Wellness – formerly known as “Above the Bay at Thornton Adams”) HERE

This will be a special event focused on Health Professionals (physicians, chiropractors, nurses, health coaches, etc) – so it will be a smaller intimate “workshop style” event – and seats will fill quickly…

To reserve your seat or ask any questions, please call/email me directly at 801-915-1170 or smtalbott@mac.com (we are still setting up our credit card processing, so you can “reserve” your seat in the class now and pay later).

Tentative Schedule:

  • June 1 (Tuesday) – arrive and settle in
  • June 2 (Wednesday) – 9am-1pm Learning / 1-2pm Lunch / Afternoon Fun
  • June 3 (Thursday) – 9am-1pm Learning / 1-2pm Lunch / Afternoon Fun
  • June 4 (Friday) – 9am-1pm Learning / 1-2pm Lunch / Afternoon Fun
  • June 5 (Saturday) – 9am-1pm Learning / 1-2pm Lunch / Afternoon Fun
  • June 6 (Sunday) – checkout as a newly Certified Mental Wellness Coach!

Background – Why Becoming a CMWC is Important

At no time in human history have we ever been so “advanced” technologically and yet so miserable psychologically.

It’s no exaggeration to describe stress, depression, anxiety, and burnout as epidemics – literally the “Black Plague” of our modern times.

How you feel is not just in your head, it’s also in your gut, and your heart, and your immune system, and in many other places inside and outside the actual brain in your head.

National surveys show that happiness and life satisfaction levels are at all-time lows, while depression, suicide, drug addiction, and use of prescription antidepressants and pain-killing opioids are at all-time highs.

There is no physical health without mental wellness. They are two sides of the same coin, and they are vital for each other and for our ability to reach our peak potential in this one life that we have to live.

The CMWC will explore research-supported natural approaches can improve how we feel mentally and perform physically in every aspect of our daily lives, including:

  • What is Mental Wellness Coaching
    • Education, Guidance, Training, Support to help unlock potential
  • What Mental Wellness Coaching is NOT
    • Counseling, treatment, prescribing, medicine…
  • Objectives
    • Workshop Format
    • 500+ slides (many for reference)
  • Part 1 – Science
    • New Paradigm of the Gut-Heart-Brain-Axis
    • Science-based products (how Amare fits)
    • Mental Wellness Economy
    • Science Deep Dive
  • Part 2 – Practice – What to DO?
    • Mindset
    • Ingredient Sourcing
    • Functional Nutrition
    • Immune System
    • Stress
    • Gut-Brain-Axis
    • Endotoxemia / Metabolism
    • Heart-Brain-Axis
    • Physical Performance
    • Sleep
    • Anti-Aging

Financial Wellness is Mental Wellness

Recent surveys such as the World Happiness Report have shed new light on the devastating impact of the pandemic on mental health and mental well-being (defined in the report as, “the full breadth of a person’s emotional, social, and cognitive function and capability”).

Younger age groups have experienced the steepest declines in mental wellness during the pandemic – with nearly 50% reporting symptoms severe enough that they find it “challenging to function effectively in life.”Many of these challenges stem from school closures, early job losses, and the deep uncertainty about the future – each of which is expected by most experts to affect their level of mental well-being for years to come.

Amid this dismal outlook for young adults is a potential bright ray of hope – due to the growing awareness of the twin considerations of wellness and purpose when it comes to work. In the post-pandemic era, employees and self-employed will expect their jobs and careers to bring not merely a paycheck, but also a significant sense of purpose to their lives.

This has little to do with the Silicon Valley nonsense of foosball tables and free lunches (in exchange for 80-90-hour works weeks) – but rather with how we structure our work time, when and where we work, an emphasis on time versus dollars, and an ability to “do good” for others while we are “doing well” for ourselves.

As we enter the middle of 2021 and we can begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel with parts of the country opening up, we are already seeing a culture that is craving authenticity around the “M-word” – MONEY. Right up there with religion, sex, and politics, MONEY has been one of those “taboo” topics that you never discussed in polite conversation.

As the number-one source of mental distress globally, it is about time that we have an open and honest discussion about money and mental wellness. The Global Wellness Institute has identified “Financial Wellness” as one oof their top mega-trends for 2021 because, “society is finally waking up to the link between money and mental health.”

We know from numerous global scientific surveys that financial stress affects physical health (blood pressure, respiratory symptoms, pain levels, and rates of tension and anxiety) – and mental health (because people with depression and anxiety are 3x more likely to be in debt). According to Bank of America, financial concerns negatively affect the mental wellness (59%) and physical health (56%) of respondents in a national survey.

Let’s be honest – all the yoga classes, personal training sessions, and green juices in the world won’t make mentally well or physically fit if you’re buried in financial anxiety. As such, we at Amare Global prefer to frame “money stress” not purely as a finance problem but more broadly as both a mental wellness and physical health problem – but one that also has an actionable SOLUTION.

In my upcoming book, Mental Fitness, I write about “Financial Fitness” – which is partly about how much money you have, but also how you make it (with purpose) and how you use it (wisely, so you have the resources to help yourself and help others).

Our relationship with money is more than just dollars and cents – it is heavily emotional and psychological – so “Financial Fitness” considers how money impacts more holistically in our entire life.

Pre-Order Mental Fitness

My new book – Mental Fitness – is available for pre-order!

Sept 14 release date – and covering how to maximize mood, motivation, and mental wellness by optimizing the brain-body-biome (3 brains, microbiome, mindset, movement, mental wellness diet, probiotics, prebiotics, postbiotics, phytobiotics, and much more)…
— Read on www.turnerpublishing.com/books/detail/mental-fitness

Languishing and the Food/Mood Connection

Just the other day (May 6), the New York Times published yet another article highlighting the profound links between our diet and our mental wellness – the proverbial “food/mood-connection” – showing quite clearly that what we eat dramatically influences how we feel.

Diving into the science underlying the food/mood-connection shows us the close links between our gut and microbiome (often called the “2nd brain”); our heart (often called the “3rd brain”); and how our “first brain” (the one in our head) feels, behaves, and performs on every level imaginable.

These are precisely the topics that I cover in my upcoming book, “Mental Fitness – Maximizing Mood, Motivation, and Mental Wellness by Optimizing the Brain-Body-Biome” – which is on pre-order now wherever you buy books.

An earlier NYT article (April 19) by the amazing Adam Grant – that I tweeted about and shared quite a lot, outlined the “emotional limbo” that many people are feeling – referred to as “languishing” in psychology research (and which is linked to what happens across our “3-brains” and our “brain-body-biome”).

The opposite of languishing is “flourishing” – just as the opposite of burnout is vigor and the opposite of depression is vitality and the opposite of stressed out is resilience.

Languishing is not quite burnout and not quite depression, but is more like feeling “blah” or “meh” and not really getting as much enjoyment or excitement out of life or certain hobbies as you once did. You feel sort of stagnant and empty. You might have brain fog or cloudy thinking or a lack of motivation.

On the “Mental Wellness Continuum” that I’ve been talking about for more than a decade – we have depression, anxiety, and burnout at the low end – and vigor, thriving and flourishing at the high end – and the dreaded “blah” or “fine” or “stressed out” (also known as languishing) in the middle. The middle “ho-hum” region is where most of us find ourselves due to chronic stress, and especially after what we’ve all been through (and are still going through) with the pandemic. 

The Global Wellness Institute has recently picked up on and refined the Mental Wellness Continuum model with a dual-axis approach that I really like to help us distinguish between mental illness and mental wellness (you could be mentally healthy but not fully mentally well).

The big problem for people who are languishing isn’t just that you feel like crap and your drive has dwindled, but that you might start becoming “indifferent to your indifference” and you just stop caring about much of anything – or even be able to see your own suffering.

If you find yourself endlessly and mindlessly doom-scrolling Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook, then you might be languishing – and you might need to hit the “reset button” to snap yourself out of it. This might be to take a small step to do something to improve your mood or motivation (like Edge for me) – or get yourself into the zone (like exercise for me) – or something to get you into a flow state (like writing for me) – or focus on something fun that requires focus and is non-work related (like playing the guitar for me) – whatever works for you to get you out of the languishing rut. Small steps lead to small wins that can be strung together day after day like breadcrumbs to lead you away from languishing and toward flourishing.

My upcoming Mental Fitness Book provides the link between how we use lifestyle interventions (like food, supplements, movement, mindset, sleep, stress management, and many others) to reduce languishing, stress, and burnout – and foster flourishing, vigor and resilience.

Experts Say Best Depression Treatment Remains Having Coal-Covered Street Urchins Sing About Dancing Troubles Away

Very funny piece in The Onion today – especially humorous for someone like me who studies Mental Wellness?

But – before you have your chuckle – please realize that there are actually very effective natural options to improve many aspects of Mental Wellness – and there is a massive Mental Wellness Economy emerging that is combining aspects of Healthcare and Pharma/Biotech and Technology – but with a Natural orientation.

Read it on The Onion website HERE or see the text pasted below…

NEW YORK—Adding to a growing body of evidence in support of the approach, Columbia University psychiatrists published research Friday that confirmed listening to coal-covered street urchins sing a song about dancing your troubles away was still the best treatment for clinical depression.

“In 90% of cases, the most successful intervention for major depressive disorder was having a young ragamuffin tap the subject on the shoulder and say, ‘Hold on, guv’nah—’ow is it you got a frown on this most splendiferous of days?’” said lead researcher Alfred Evans, describing how the moods of severely depressed individuals improved when a gang of dirt-caked, hardscrabble chimney sweeps and newsboys appeared one by one from nearby alleyways and started into a high-spirited, irresistible song-and-dance number.

“Even the worst-off patients, those who exhibit no response to antidepressants or talk therapy, experienced decreased symptoms after exposure to the sprightly steps and carefree ditties of a chorus made up of 5- to 10-year-old orphans with names like Skimble Flintwich, Humsy Wumsy, and Lil’ Tom Wopsle.

People who have suffered for decades from a sense of inherent worthlessness not only smiled as these impish ruffians in knee pants and suspenders performed a choreographed routine with their horsehair brooms, but actually joined in for the final rousing chorus of a tune called ‘Chin Up The Livelong Day!’

By the time these knockabout youngsters smeared boot-polish mustaches beneath their noses and mimicked a group of indignant businessmen, most cases of depression had been completely cured.”

Evans hypothesized that the effectiveness of the treatment might stem from patients concluding that if these penniless guttersnipes were able to smile their way through the hard times, then, well, perhaps anyone could.

Amare Research & The Future Of Everything

One of the most frequent questions that I get from Amare customers and Wellness Partners is related to “the research” – where to find it, what it means, and how to apply it to everyday life?

At Amare, we really go out of our way to explain the science of our ingredients and our finished formulas by providing educational videos, Product Information Pages (PIPs), Powerpoint decks, and extensive Technical Data Sheets on each and every product – which can all be found in the “Resources” section at Amare.com

I thought I might expand on the dozens of “resource” documents by outlining some of our targeted research in this blog. The timing is perfect, as the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) just released their most recent “Future of Everything” report, which contains 2 features about “mental wellness” and another feature about the microbiome (links provided at the bottom of this post).

The key takeaways from these feature articles can be summarized as:

  1. Most of us don’t feel the way we want to feel in terms of stress levels, mental well-being, mood, motivation, and performance.
  2. COVID has had some obvious detrimental impact on stress, mood, and mental wellness – but there is a “good” aspect where people are beginning to prioritize their mental wellness because they realize that there is no physical health without mental health.
  3. The microbiome and entire Gut-Brain-Axis plays a prominent role in determining both our mental wellness and physical health – and science is leading the way to help us balance our microbiome and optimize how we feel and perform.

The biggest health problems today are not physical ailments such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes – but are rather mental conditions such as depression, anxiety, chronic fatigue, sleep deprivation, and everyday stress. When we’re stressed, we’re more likely to crave junk food and store belly fat – but when we’re resilient, we don’t succumb to stress-eating and we make better dietary choices; when we’re tired, we’re less likely to exercise or meditate – but when we have good sleep quality and metabolism, we have abundant energy levels that can fuel our lifestyle; and when we’re depressed, we’re less likely to take care of ourselves or interact positively with others – but when we have a good mood, we’re more likely to love ourselves and apply that love to others. 

Numerous international organizations, including the Global Wellness Institute, have identified “Mental Wellness” as a $120+billion (2019) segment of the health industry that is expected to experience exponential growth in the coming years.

Without overstatement, “mental wellness” is, by any measure, the most compelling growth opportunity within the natural health space – encompassing functional foods, dietary supplements, and numerous aspects of the natural products industry. Amare Global’s leadership in spearheading these studies is establishing an important foundation on which numerous companies and individuals will be able to build a meaningful business in the burgeoning mental wellness category.

For the last 4+ years, Amare Global has been pursuing a coordinated research project to improve mental wellness via the optimization of the Gut-Heart-Brain-Axis. This research initiative has led to dozens of peer-reviewed and invited scientific presentations, numerous patent applications, and several peer-reviewed scientific journal publications (list and links provided below).

Our projects span over 4 years and encompass a series of coordinated research trials intended to elucidate the links between Gut-Brain-Axis function and mental wellness (Study 1); between the Heart-Brain-Axis and mental wellness (Study 2); and between mental wellness and physical health (Study 3). An overarching theme between studies and across the entire project has been that a wide range of natural ingredients (probiotics, prebiotics, postbiotics, phytonutrients, and herbal extracts) can help to restore balance within the interconnected “Gut-Brain-Heart-Axis” to dramatically and dynamically improve mental wellness parameters.

Study 1 (Gut-Brain-Axis), assessed microbiome parameters (e.g. Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, Akkermansia, etc) and correlated those levels to psychological outcomes (e.g. depression, anxiety, stress). 

Study 2 (Heart-Brain-Axis), assessed heart efficiency (heart rate variability) and correlated those levels with mental/physical energy parameters (e.g. energy, focus, vigor).

Study 3 (Mental/Physical Health), showed how improvements in mental wellness (brain), brought about by balancing gut and heart parameters, were also linked to improvements in physical health (blood glucose, cholesterol, cardiac risk, cortisol).

Across these studies, we confirmed that targeted nutritional interventions could reliably and predictably simultaneously improve both mental wellness and physical health.

Objective: Across this series of studies, we intended to examine the close multi-directional relationship between mental wellness parameters (mood, focus, energy, resilience) and physical health status (body weight, blood sugar, cardiac risk) – and show how these may be largely and simultaneously modified through natural nutritional regimens targeting the microbiome and the gut-heart-brain- axis. Previous research has shown targeted weight loss effects and anti-depressive benefits of diets high in fiber and phytonutrients and low in sugar and processed foods. Thus, our objective was to determine changes in parameters common to both obesity and depression (e.g., microbiome balance, metabolic biomarkers, and psychological mood state) following a coordinated supplementation regimen combining probiotics, prebiotics, and phytonutrients.

Methods: Across our series of multiple clinical trials, with more than 100 subjects, we examined interventions of 4-6 weeks duration with targeted blends of probiotics, prebiotics, and phytonutrients. Microbiome balance was assessed in fecal samples (Lactobacillus, Bifidobacteria, Akkermansia, and others). Biomarkers, including blood lipids, glucose, cortisol, and butyrate kinase, were assessed as indicators of effects on cardiovascular, inflammatory, and energy metabolism. Heart efficiency was assessed by measurements of heart rate variability (emWave Pro, heartMath Institute). Psychological mood state was assessed using the validated Profile of Mood States survey (POMS) to generate scores for Global Mood State and six sub-scales (Depression, Tension, Fatigue, Anger, Confusion, and Vigor).

Results: Following supplementation, we found significant increase in populations of “good” bacteria (+8% Bifidobacterium, +33% Lactobacillus, +62% S. Thermophilus, +90% Akkermansia) as well as bacterial ratios associated with a healthier “obesity-resistant” metabolism (+6% composite score, -11% Firmicutes, +6% Bacteroidetes, -14% F/B ratio). Metabolites associated with stress and glycemic control improved post-supplementation (-11% cortisol; +89% butyrate kinase, -6% glucose), as did body fat (-2%) and blood lipids (-8% total cholesterol, -5% LDL, +3% HDL, -23% triglycerides, -7% TC/HDL). Heart efficiency was improved as indicated by ~15% increase in heart rate variability. Psychological indices were significantly improved post-supplementation for both positive (+17% Global Mood; +23% Vigor) and negative mood states (-38% Depression; -41% Tension; -42% Fatigue; -31% Confusion; -39% Anger).

Conclusions: These results demonstrate, across multiple coordinated studies, the close relationship between microbiome balance, systemic metabolism, heart function, and psychological parameters – and the utility of targeted supplementation to optimize the entire Gut-Heart-Brain-Axis for both improved metabolism and enhanced mental wellness and physical health.

WHY IS THIS WORK IMPORTANT?

The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified stress and depression as global epidemics and the leading causes of disability worldwide. In North America alone, there are hundreds of millions of people who spend hundreds of billions of dollars every year on “feel different” remedies such as antidepressant and anti-anxiety drugs, opioid painkillers, drugs for ADHD, drugs for sleep, and an unending array of energy drinks and junk food that we self-medicate with in response to being tired, stressed, and depressed.

Unfortunately, while many of these approaches will change how we feel – none of them will help us feel better. These synthetic approaches generally take us from feeling bad in one way to feeling bad in a different way – while utterly failing to help us feel truly good in the ways that we want to feel. 

Our coordinated research projects have spanned 4+ years focusing on the links between nutrition, biochemistry, and psychology (e.g. how and why nutrients make us feel a certain way) – and now we’re at an exciting time in history where we can finally use traditional natural options – in a science-supported way – to address many of today’s modern mental wellness challenges. These breakthroughs in our understanding of ancient/traditional medicine, natural supplements, and functional foods provide us with a wide array of scientifically validated tools that can dramatically improve how we feel and perform in every aspect of our lives.

WHY IS THIS WORK DIFFERENT?

We used to think that mental wellness was “just” related to the brain and various influences of stress hormones such as cortisol. Eventually, science advanced enough to inform us that the gut microbiome (the collection of trillions of gut bacteria) creates up to 90% of our body’s neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine – and has a dramatic influence on our mood, motivation, and resilience. Even more recent, are the scientific and medical observations that the heart, through electro-magnetic signals sent to the brain, plays an equally influential role in determining our mental well-being.

A New Mental Wellness Solution – Our Three Brains

The “first” brain in your head is networked with both the gut (our “second” brain) and with the heart (our “third” brain). Each of our three brains sends and receives a wide range of signals to and from each other. It is the coordinated action of our three brains – and the interplay between them – that ultimately determines our overall mental wellness. Our three brains “talk” to each other through a complex network of nerves, cells, and biochemicals. This network—referred to as the Gut–Brain–Heart Axis—includes nearly 100 trillion bacteria that live in our gastrointestinal system (our “microbiome”) and the cloud of electrical and magnetic signals generated by our heart. Coordination between these helpful bacteria and coherent heart signals are instrumental in modulating the function of our immune system, optimizing the body’s inflammatory response, and supporting many other aspects of our mental wellness and physical health.

SUMMARY

We have shown that specific nutritional ingredients can deliver meaningful improvements in overall well-being and psychological mood states (reductions in stress, fatigue, depression, and anxiety) through well-defined mechanisms of action including improved microbiome balance, lowered inflammation, primed immune function, increased heart rate variability, improved cardiac risk profiles, balanced blood sugar, and reduced stress hormones.

These individual studies – and the overall project – demonstrate that natural nutritional interventions very well may be the solution to one of our most pressing global epidemics – and one that is open and accessible to all without the high cost, marginal benefits, and severe side effects of existing synthetic options. Our studies are on-going to expand our understanding of using natural nutritional interventions to move people from “bad” to “wellness” and further toward “optimized and flourishing” (“Mental Fitness”).

Wall Street Journal (WSJ) – The Future of Everything Report:

WSJ: “Modern Life is Messing with Our Microbiomes, but Science is Fighting Back

WSJ; “Forget What You Think Happiness Is

WSJ; “COVID-19’s Lasting Effects on Mental Health – for Good and Bad

Amare Global Peer-reviewed Scientific Presentations and Publications

12 peer-reviewed scientific presentations (2018-2020) – including American College of Nutrition, American College of Sports Medicine, Experimental Biology, HealCon, International Society of Nutrition Psychology Research, and others.

6 peer-reviewed scientific publications (2018-2020) – including Functional Foods for Health & Disease, EC Nutrition, FASEB Journal)

12 patent applications for the use of natural nutrition interventions for improving various aspects of mental wellness.

Presentations (related to FundaMentals)

  • American College of Nutrition = November 2017 – Alexandria VA (“Outstanding Research” Award)
  • Experimental Biology = April 2018 – San Diego, CA
  • American College of Sports Medicine = May 2018 – Minneapolis, MN
  • Mental Health America – Fit for the Future Conference = June 2018 – Washington DC
  • Microbiome Movement – Gut Brain Axis = November 2018 – Boston, MA
  • American Mental Wellness Awareness Association = November 2018 – Hershey, PA
  • NAMI Professional Education Day (National Alliance for Mental Illness) = February 2019 – Honolulu, HI
  • International Society of Nutritional Psychiatry Research (INSPR) – November 2019, London, UK

Presentations (related to product as noted):

  • (Kid’s Mood+) = Targeted Dietary Supplementation Improves Mental Performance in Children. Experimental Biology / American Physiological Society (April 2020, San Diego, CA)
  • (Project b3, MentaHeart, Kid’s Mood+) = Keynote: The Brain-Body-Biome – How Mental Wellness Drives a Multi-Faceted Impact on Physical Health (HealCon – complementary medicine conference – Newport Beach CA, May 2020)
  • (MentaHeart) = Optimization of Heart-Brain-Axis Signaling Improves Mental and Physical Performance. American College of Sports Medicine (May 2020, San Francisco, CA)
  • (Project b3) = Keynote: How the Gut Influences Mental Wellness and Physical Health (International Academy of Colon Hydrotherapists – Kissimmee FL June 2020)
  • (Project b3) = Dual Role of Gut-Brain-Axis Modulation in Obesity and Depression – Functional Food Center – 28th Annual Conference on Functional and Healthy Foods for Longevity (San Diego, CA Aug 2020)

Publications (related to product as noted)

Fundamentals:

  • Effect of Coordinated Probiotic/Prebiotic/Phytobiotic Supplementation on Microbiome Balance and Psychological Mood State in Healthy Stressed Adults. Functional Foods in Health & Disease Journal. Vol 9, No 4 (2019)

MentaHeart:

  • Effect of Astaxanthin Supplementation on Cardiorespiratory Function in Runners”. EC Nutrition 11.6 (2017): 253-259. 
  • Astaxanthin Supplementation Reduces Depression and Fatigue in Healthy Subjects”. EC Nutrition 14.3 (2019): 239-246. 
  • Effect of Astaxanthin Supplementation on Psychophysiological Heart-Brain Axis Dynamics in Healthy Subjects. Functional Foods in Health & Disease Journal. Vol 9, No 8 (2019)

Project b3:

  • Modulation of Gut-Brain-Axis Improves Microbiome, Metabolism, and Mood. Functional Foods in Health & Disease Journal. 2020; 10(1): 37-54.

Awards

  • 2018 — NutraAward (Best New Finished Product): Amare Fundamentals Pack
  • 2018 — Botanical of the Year (Finalist): Mood+
  • 2018 — Startup of the Year (Finalist): Amare Global
  • 2019 — Probiotic of the Year (Finalist): Kids FundaMentals
  • 2019 – Startup of the Year (Finalist): Amare Global

Patent Applications

NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTS AFFECTING GUT-BRAIN-AXIS BALANCE AND MENTAL WELLNESS (GBX Proprietary Blend) for signaling support across the entire gut-brain-axis and found in several Amare products (FundaMentals Pack; MentaBiotics; MentaFocus; Energy+; VitaGBX; Kid’s VitaGBX)

NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTS AFFECTING MOOD STATE AND SLEEP QUALITY (Sleep+) to protect the synergistic combination of corn grass + griffonia seed and the combination of the full 10-ingredient formula in Sleep+ for promoting sleep quality

NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTS AND METHODS OF SUPPLEMENTATION AFFECTING THE ENDOCANNABINOID SYSTEM (HempGBX+) Unique blend of hemp oil, black cumin seed oil, black pepper oil, and white frankincense to fully support the entire ECS (endocannabinoid system) for improvements in pain, mood, stress, and sleep. Works via a previously unknown mechanism of priming ECS receptors and activating ECS receptors for overall superior benefits

NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTS AND METHODS OF NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTATION AFFECTING HEART/BRAIN AXIS (MentaHeart) Unique blend of astaxanthin, palm fruit bioactives, CoQ10, and bergamot fruit extract shown to uniquely improve mood and mental/physical energy levels

NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTS AND METHODS OF NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTATION AFFECTING MOOD AND FOCUS IN CHILDREN (Kid’s Mood+) Unique blend of saffron, rosemary, clove, oregano, and holy basil to support mood and focus

NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTS AND METHODS OF NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTATION AFFECTING MENTAL WELLNESS AND/OR MOOD (OmMega) Unique 5:1 ratio of EPA:DHA plus lavender oil to promote mental wellness

NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTS AND METHODS OF NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTATION AFFECTING MICROBIOME METABOLISM (Project b3) for coordinated support of microbiome, metabolism, and mood

Open Mic Night!

Bring your questions and any topics for discussion…

You can join via Zoom at https://zoom.us/j/9292793215 (password = “amare”) or on the livestream to Facebook

I’ll talk about my ski accident and what I’m doing to rehab my shoulder in time for a 50-mile trial run next month…

We can talk about anything you want – maybe about how the ‘Metal Wellness Economy” is the Next Big Thing in health?

Or how the Gut-Brain-Heart-Axis is the newest cutting-edge way to improve mental fitness and physical performance?

Or how I’ll be opening the world’s first “Mental Fitness Center” in May – where people can come to learn about natural modalities for improving mental wellness and even become a Certified Mental Wellness Coach (CMWC) so you can build a business around helping others reach their full mental and physical potential?

Hope to see you tonight at 6pm PST!