The Surprising Link Between Gut Health and Mood – Saturday Strategy


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Have you lost enthusiasm for your hobbies, interests, or favorite activities?

Do you feel overwhelmed with day to day tasks?

Do you have regular feelings of anger or paranoia?

Have you lost interest in life?

Do you find yourself feeling depressed when it’s cloudy or there is lack of sunlight?

Have you lost joy in your friendships and relationships?

Are you unable to sleep well and wake rested?

FACT: One of the key symptoms of poor serotonin activity, whether low or a breakdown in transmission pathway, is an inability to feel joy from anything.¹


Some of the questions I just asked you used to be questions I answered yes to.

Maybe you can relate to those questions and you feel lost and unsure what to do.

I assure you that I understand to some degree because before my transformation, I too, felt alone and uncertain how to rise above these feelings.

I want to help you to better understand the role that a very important hormone plays in your mental health – something that is so closely tied to your gut that research suggests that by focusing on balancing the gut microbiome, people have actually been able to begin LOVING LIFE again!

You’ve seen me transform over the past 3 years – it certainly didn’t happen overnight, but I was committed and I encourage you to commit to your health too!

I am also going to share with you 7 things that I’ve done that have transformed my mind, body and spirit.

Things that YOU can start doing RIGHT NOW and I hope that you will!

Let’s get started.

FACT: Depression affects approximately 14.8 million American adults, or about 6.7 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year.


So as you can see, if any of the questions I asked sound like you… you are not alone.

What Hippocrates said thousands of years ago is finally making sense to modern-day science.

If you don’t know what Hippocrates said, he said “All disease begins in the gut.” And as it turns out, he was right!

Based on my research, that very well may include mental health disorders, like depression, anxiety, ADHD and more.

Our gut is home to approximately 100 trillion microorganisms. That’s such a big number that it’s hard for our brains to comprehend the magnitude (that’s 12 zeros, peeps!). Chris Kresser gives a great visual to put this into perspective:

One trillion dollar bills laid end-to-end would stretch from the earth to the sun – and back – with a lot of miles to spare. Do that 100 times and you begin to get the idea of how many organisms we carry within our gut alone.

The human gut contains 10 times more bacteria than all the human cells in the entire body, with over 400 different bacterial species. We are more bacterial than we are human!


FACT: The gut and the brain start out as a single organ during fetal development and later divide into the central nervous system (brain) and enteric nervous system (gut). They remain connected and continue communicating throughout our lives by way of a long cranial cord called the vagus nerve. It is now well established that the vagus nerve is the primary route your gut bacteria use to transmit information to your brain.¹


Crazy, right?!

So you may have guessed the superstar hormone I am referring to…

Well, today I want to talk to you about serotonin – the “feel-good” hormone.

Like it’s nickname suggests, it’s important that this hormone is balanced and utilized properly for us to be happy!

Body chemicals

Here’s a little anatomy and physiology lesson for you from the book, Why Isn’t My Brain Working by the brilliant Doctor, Datis Kharrazian.

Serotonin is manufactured in the raphe nuclei, an area located in the midbrain. It’s production is triggered by activation of the tectum, also located in the midbrain.

Stimulation of the tectum depends on sufficient natural light, which is why serotonin deficiency is often associated with depression and moodiness during winter, on cloudy days, or with too much time spent indoors.

Because of this, the tectum fails to fire into the rest of the midbrain abundantly, including the raphe nuclei and serotonin production suffers.

When an imbalance occurs, the real question to ask is why is this happening in the first place?

So why does this happen? Well, a big reason is due to poor utilization of tryptophan for serotonin production.

Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that cannot be made by the body and must be supplied by the diet.

The SAD (Standard American Diet) is not lacking in this amino acid, surprisingly. The main issue is how it’s utilized.

The even bigger issue is whether the precursors make it into the blood brain barrier and are able to be synthesized into serotonin.

It’s important to realize that you have neurons both in your brain and your gut – including neurons that produce neurotransmitters like serotonin.

The greatest concentration of serotonin, which is involved in mood control, depression and aggression, is actually found in your intestines, not your brain!

Roughly 95%, in fact!

This may be one reason why antidepressants, with a role to raise serotonin levels in your brain, are often ineffective in treating depression, whereas proper dietary changes often help tremendously.

Serotonin DeficiencyAll of this incredible information further supports the research that the makeup of our gut microbiome could make the difference as to whether we are sick or well, both mentally and physically.

FACT: There is a certain type of migraine called an abdominal migraine (often misdiagnosed), which is associated with imbalances in the serotonin system and its impact on blood flow regulation. These migraines often affect the vascular system in the gut-brain access.¹



What’s cool is it’s been shown that certain strains of probiotics can increase the availability of tryptophan, the key precursor to making serotonin.

A new study out of the Leiden Institute of Brain and Cognition at Leiden University in the Netherlands suggests that probiotics may actually aid in improving mood.

The study states that they may actually “be a good way to fight anxiety or depression, or simply make you feel better after a bad day.”

FACT: In neurology, depression is simply decreased firing of the frontal lobe and the frontal lobe is saturated with receptor sites for serotonin – serotonin is a vital ingredient to a well-functioning frontal lobe.


In the study, the researchers examined 40 healthy young adults who had no mood disorders.

Half of them consumed a powdered probiotic supplement every night for four weeks. The probiotic supplement contained eight types of bacteria, such as Bifidobacterium,

Lactobacillus and Lactococcus (these three types of bacteria that have been shown in the past to mitigate anxiety and depression).

The other half of the participants took a placebo, although they thought they were taking probiotics.

The people who took probiotic supplements began to see improvements in their moods; they reported less reactivity to sad moods than those who took placebos.

Pros of probiotics and gut health

In another article, The Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility reported the probiotic known as Bifidobacterium longum normalized anxiety-like behavior in mice with infectious colitis by modulating the vagal pathways within the gut-brain.

Other research found that the probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus had a marked effect on GABA levels – an inhibitory neurotransmitter that is significantly involved in regulating many physiological and psychological processes – in certain brain regions and lowered the stress-induced hormone corticosterone, resulting in reduced anxiety- and depression-related behavior.

In general, it’s thought that more variety in the gut microbiome is probably better and studies of hunter-gatherers show us that they seem to have both more mass and more variety of gut bacteria than do modern Westernized humans.

How gut bacteria affects the brain and body

All in all, the gut is a terrific place to start helping humans be as healthy, resilient and robust as we have evolved to be.

Many scientists now believe that leaky gut may have a hand in neurological problems. The reason for this is that gut microflora play a significant role, along with your brain, in producing neurochemicals that influence your behavior and psychological well-being. When the bacterial balance is off, this can interfere with proper brain development.

According to a study on Green Med Info:

“… [A]n increasing number of clinical studies have shown that treating gastrointestinal inflammations with probiotics, vitamin B, D and omega 3 fatty acids, through attenuating proinflammatory stimuli to brain, may also improve depression symptoms and quality of life. All these findings justify an assumption that treating gastrointestinal inflammations may improve the efficacy of the currently used treatment modalities of depression and related diseases.”

Recent research suggests that early microbiome development might play a key role in at least some aspects of one’s adult mental health.

One 2011 study out of McMaster University compared the behaviors of normal eight-week-old mice and mice whose guts were stripped of microbes.

The bacteria-free mice showed higher levels of risk-taking and further examination of neurochemical pathways revealed higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol as well as modified levels of the brain chemical BDNF, which has been linked to humans with mental disorders.

In a study led by Cryan, anxious mice dosed with the probiotic bacterium Lactobacillus rhamnosus showed lower levels of anxiety, decreased stress hormones, and even an increase in brain receptors for a neurotransmitter that’s vital in curbing worry, anxiety and fear.

Bottom line: Serotonin is a ninja, my friend. You want this guy – or girl – on your side!

Here are 7 things you can start doing right now to improve your mood and begin LOVING LIFE again…


1. Clean up your diet.


Focus on eating clean. That means real, whole, organic food as close to it’s original source as possible.

I talked about this is a Saturday Strategy a couple of weeks ago and gave you some tips on shopping the grocery store so be sure you check that out!

8 foods for digestive system

2. Juice daily.


You know I love juice! Having at least 1 green vegetable juice daily literally changed my body from the inside out. My mental clarity improved, my mood went from sad to happy and my physical body finally began reflecting all the work I was putting in at the gym…

Green Juice

If you don’t have a juicer or you’re short on time, check out our superfood green juice – Organifi. You can have all the nutrients your body needs in just 30 seconds a day and it’s so good!

3. Move your body.


Getting into an exercise routine can be challenging – just like anything new. But once you start doing it, your body begins to crave it – the same goes for healthy food, by the way!

Start with where you’re at. If you can only dedicate 10-20 minutes a day, that is a great starting point. Once you’ve gotten used to moving your body daily, challenge yourself and increase your time. Change up your routines and try something new.

Find something you enjoy and commit to doing it often! And remember, moving your body doesn’t have to mean spending hours in the gym, which I know can be intimidating for some people.

Hike, bike, do yoga, chase your kids… what matters is that you do it and do it often.

Brain benefits of exercise

4. Get out of your head.


I talked about this in a recent Mindset Monday and it’s so important during and after your transformation.

It’s so easy to get stuck in caring too much about what other people think.

In reality, what matters is HOW YOU SEE YOURSELF. HOW YOU LOVE YOURSELF.

Doggy batman

Think about what makes YOU happy. Think about what makes YOU able to be the best version of yourself.

Caring for yourself is not selfish, it’s necessary. And you’re worth it.

5. Practice gratitude daily.


Life gets busy, but taking a moment each day to really stop and revel in all the beauty around and within you is a powerful tool for transformation of the mind and spirit.

Try doing a gratitude journal either in the morning when you wake up, or in the evening before you go to bed.

List 3 things you are grateful for – this could be anything.

We tend to forget about the simple things, like opening our eyes and feeling the sunlight on our skin. THESE THINGS ARE IMPORTANT!

What Good is Gratitude

6. Do things for others.


When I am having a bad day (which thankfully is not often anymore), I step outside of myself and do for others.

Seeing the smile on another person’s face ultimately brings a smile to my face too, which makes this practice a real win-win.

Carry someone’s groceries for them at the store; hold the door open; compliment a stranger; write a note to someone that has made a difference in your life and send it to them – snail mail!; cook a meal for a friend or loved one.

Help people quote

7. Take a daily probiotic.


Probiotics are the healthy bacteria in your gut.

The health of your gut not only houses 70-80% of your immune system, but as you can see, it also strongly affects your mood too!

You want the ratio of good to bad bacteria (yes we need those guys too) to be about 85 to 15.

Unfortunately, due to our toxic lifestyles – including the use of prescription medications and our environment, that number is often skewed.

That’s why including probiotic-rich foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, natto and kombucha are great additions to your diet.

But food isn’t always enough considering the overload of chemicals and other factors we are up against each day.

That’s why I take a probiotic supplement daily, which helped me to restore my gut and get my body working with me instead of against me.

Probiotic health benefits

Now, I’ve got some really exciting news for you!

When I say “we’re in this together,” I mean it. And I am committed to bringing you information and resources to help you along on your journey to create and maintain optimal health.

So like Organifi, we’ve spent a lot of time thinking about WHAT YOU NEED and we came up with an incredible solution to positively impact your health, from the inside out!

Coming soon, our team at will be bringing you our latest and greatest life-changing product… Biotic Balance!

Organifi and biotic balance

This is our multi-strain (10 to be exact) probiotic, complete with 50 Billion CFU’s (colony forming units) of beneficial bacteria to deliver the good guys you need to rebalance and repopulate your internal system – your microbiome – with just 1 capsule per day!

I can’t give you an exact date yet, but I can tell you it will be soon… very soon! 🙂 When I have specifics on the release of Biotic Balance, you will be the first to know!

Our team is already enjoying this amazing product and feeling the effects of a happier and healthier mind and body! So get ready because you’re next! 🙂

Fitlife team

In the meantime, give my 7 steps to a happier mood and more balanced body a try.

Then comment below on the blog and let me know what you think.

Last but not least, shout out to our Juicer Giveaway Winner this week, Ste Marie! Congratulations man!

Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 11.45.42 PM

Thanks for being here, my friend. I appreciate you and I want you to be happy.

We’re in this together.



Drew Canole

Drew Canole

CEO at
Drew Canole is a rockstar in the world of fitness, nutrition and mindset, with a huge heart for others and doing his part to transform the world, one person at a time.

As the founder and CEO of Fitlife.TV, he is committed to sharing educational, inspirational and entertaining videos and articles about health, fitness, healing and longevity. He is also a best selling author and the founder of Organifi, an organic, incredibly delicious greens powder, chock-full of superfoods to make juicing easy no matter your busy schedule.
Drew Canole

Latest posts by Drew Canole (see all)


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Glenn was in an accident with a hockey puck that made it so his mouth had to be wired shut! While he was going through recovery he found that Organifi Protein sustained him in a healthy way where he was able to maintain his muscle mass while still be able to loose weight.

-Tragedy Turns to Opportunity, Weightloss and Holistic Health
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