Gut Infections and Brain Health

blood test brain health gut health gut infection intestinal permeability lps stool test May 23, 2023

Gut infections, gut bacteria imbalances (insufficiency dysbiosis or overgrowths like SIBO and yeast/fungus/Candida), H.pylori, food sensitivities and leaky gut (intestinal permeability) can all be a source of inflammation. Unfortunately, what happens in the gut doesn’t stay in the gut!

What happens in the gut doesn’t stay in the gut.

If someone comes to me with inflammation, digestive issues, mood imbalances or skin problems, I always test for intestinal permeability, gut infections and lipopolysaccharides (LPS). LPS increases gut-brain permeability, blood pressure, obesity, triggers insulin resistance, increase triglycerides and cholesterol, lowers HDL, increases liver markers, IBS, and has a possible role in endometriosis. Inflammation and free radicals in the bloodstream from LPS and intestinal permeability increase systemic vascular permeability which opens up your Blood-Brain-Barrier.

“Fire in the gut means fire in the brain.”

When it comes to LPS and infections, in addition to the long list above, your gut makes 400x more serotonin than your brain. Plus Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s are thought to originate in the gut.

Having your brain on fire isn’t a good thing. Brain inflammation makes us irritable, angry, anxious or depressed. We need those calming, happiness-inducing neurotransmitters but they get compromised by gut infections.

Common causes of inflammation include:

  • Autoimmune disease

  • Blood sugar imbalances

  • Gut infections

  • High viral load

  • Food sensitivities

  • Poor sleep

  • Stress (emotional or environmental toxins)

Diet & Lifestyle

On top of optimizing gut health and nutrient absorption, you’ll also need to focus on a nutrient dense diet. According to The American Gut Project, the goal is to eat the rainbow and maximize dietary diversity. Aim for 30-50 different vibrantly colored veggies, fruits, herbs, spices, nuts and seeds each week!

Prioritizing at least 7-8 hours of high quality sleep is also critical. This is when your brain’s lymphatic system kicks in to clean house and get rid of toxins and proteins that contribute to poor brain function. A regular sleep routine with no blue lights, no food 3 hours before bed and a cool room is a great start. I see a lot of people’s sleep disrupted by blood sugar swings as well.


Depleted soils, stress, medications and a high sugar diet can all deplete you of vitamins and minerals. I like the Micronutrient panel by Vibrant America to look at your individual levels, or their NutriPro which also includes genetic factors.

The combination of stool testing (Gut Zoomer) and blood testing for intestinal permeability and LPS is an ideal starting point for any issue related to digestion, skin, autoimmunity or the brain. Want to learn more about lab testing? Book your free 15-minute discovery call.


To hope, health & happiness, Sara

Function Medicine Clinical Nutritionist, CNS, LDN, FMHC, MS-HNFM



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