The Gut Microbiota-Neurobehavior Connection (Part 2)

The Gut Microbiota-Neurobehavior Connection (Part 2)

By Lindsay Christensen

Nutritionist @ The Pratt Clinics


In Part 1 of this blog series, I explained the importance of the gut-brain axis in the context of neurobehavioral disorders, depression, and anxiety. In this post, I’ll give you actionable advice for correcting gut dysbiosis and improving brain function. 

Testing for gut dysbiosis

Using tests to screen the gut microbiota can reveal bacterial imbalances that may be contributing to neurobehavioral and mental health problems. At The Pratt Clinics, there are two tests we like to run to screen for imbalances in the gut microbiota: The GI MAP and the organic acids test. 

The GI MAP uses a technique called PCR to detect the DNA of bacteria, fungi, parasites, and viruses in a stool sample. It also looks at immunologic markers of gut health. The organic acids test uses a blood and/or urine sample to detect metabolites that indicate nutrient deficiencies and the presence of pathogenic bacteria and yeasts. 

How to improve gut and brain health

To improve the symptoms of neurobehavioral disorders, depression, and anxiety, we must first start by improving gut health! There are many strategies we can use to improve gut health, including taking probiotics and prebiotics, supporting gallbladder function, incorporating antimicrobial botanicals, and making dietary changes that promote a healthy gut environment.


Restoring healthy levels of beneficial bacteria to the gut is essential for normalizing the gut-brain axis and neurobehaviors. Research has found that Lactobacillus acidophilus, L. rhamnosus, and Bifidobacterium longum improve behavior and GI dysfunction in children on the autism spectrum. Lactobacillus casei, L. helveticus, and Bifidobacterium longum have antidepressant effects, with the latter two demonstrating effects equivalent to the pharmaceutical antidepressant Diazepam. While no clinical trials have been conducted yet on the therapeutic efficacy of probiotics in ADHD, a study began in 2015 titled "Effects of a Probiotic Supplement on Symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Anxiety in Children” intends to investigate the topic. (25) I can’t wait to see the results! 


Prebiotics are indigestible carbohydrates found in plant foods that reach the colon intact, where they feed and promote the growth of beneficial gut bacteria. Two types of prebiotic fiber, fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) and galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS) have demonstrated anti-anxiety and antidepressant effects. 

Many foods are natural sources of prebiotics. Here’s a brief list of some prebiotic foods to add to your diet:

Green (unripe) bananas 
Jerusalem artichoke
Dandelion greens
Tigernut flour
Cooked and cooled plantains 

Gallbladder health

The gallbladder, a small organ nestled below the liver, produces bile acids that emulsify dietary fats and is a primary route of excretion for fat-soluble toxins. Bile acids also influence the composition of the gut microbiota. Impaired gallbladder function thus hampers fat digestion, the absorption of fat-soluble nutrients, and detoxification. Getting the gallbladder working is a prerequisite for creating a healthy gut microbiota. You can improve gallbladder health with bitters, which are herbs that have a bitter flavor that stimulates bile flow. I suggest Quicksilver Scientific Bitters No. 9. Liposomal vitamin C, tocotrienols, and glutathione are also useful additions for facilitating detoxification. 


Antimicrobial botanicals can eliminate intestinal infections that disrupt the gut-brain axis. I recommend Biocidin, berberine, and curcumin for eliminating pathogenic intestinal bacteria, yeast, and parasites. 

Dietary changes

Eating habits profoundly affect the gut microbiota. The consumption of an ultra-processed diet high in refined grains, sugar, and industrial vegetable oils (such as canola, soybean, corn, and safflower oils) deprives beneficial gut bacteria of the fiber they need to survive, thus reducing their numbers, and induces gut inflammation; together, these factors impact the gut-brain axis and neurobehavior. In fact, the consumption of processed foods exacerbates autism, ADHD, depression, and anxiety. Conversely, the consumption of an unprocessed, nutrient-dense diet high in fiber supports a healthy gut microbiota and brain. Consider removing processed foods and any specific foods to which you or your child are sensitive, including gluten and dairy, to reduce gut inflammation and promote the development of a healthier gut microbiota. Try to buy organic produce as often as possible; exposure to glyphosate, a pervasive pesticide used in conventional agriculture, kills beneficial gut bacteria while sparing Clostridia, an overgrowth of which is linked to autism.

Final thoughts 

The gut microbiota plays a pivotal role in the development and progression of autism, ADHD, anxiety, and depression. By correcting gut dysbiosis and restoring a healthy gut microbiota with probiotics, prebiotics, antimicrobial botanicals, and dietary changes, it is possible to reduce, and even reverse the course, of neurobehavioral and mental health disorders! 

If you need more information or help with your overall health, contact us at The Pratt Clinics.

Dr.Pratt is a great team player and her work complements the other therapies and approaches we follow in conjunction.

- Parent of Autism Spectral Disorder Patient

Apart from BIT, Dr.Pratt's vast knowledge of the biomedical basis of ASD helps support parents as they try to heal the child's body in helping the brain develop.

- Parent of Autism Spectral Disorder Patient

There were such significant changes in my child's behavior after Dr. Pratt’s treatment, that it absolutely changed his life and the whole family.

- Behavioral Issues and Family Naturopathic Care

I have to say, I have never seen anything have such a positive impact on someone's life.

- ADD / Memory Recall Patient

Dr. Pratt's approach was friendly, relaxing, reassuring and non-invasive, and the progress that we saw in our son's writing was immediate and remarkable.

- Specific Learning Disability Patient

I would highly recommend Dr. Pratt’s nurturing, life changing treatments to anyone who desires a better, easier way of living in this world.

- Anxiety / Learning Disability Patient

Dr. Pratt’s treatment made it possible for my daughter to go to school full-time for the first time in two years, and as a matter of fact, she’s now talking about going to college instead of worrying that she’d never graduate high school.

- Patient of Head Injury Patient

Since my first appointment with Dr. Pratt, I have come back to her for every ailment. She has quickly and effectively cured every sickness I have experienced.

- Naturopathic Medicine Patient

I am working 4 days a week and I accomplish more in a day now than I did in a whole week before. I feel productive and useful after BIT.

- Head Injury Patient

It has not all been easy, changing your lifestyle and diet is a challenge but we feel very supported by Dr. Pratt. It's a long road to recovery but the rewards are great along the way. My son has almost recovered from his symptoms and we owe all of this to Dr. Pratt. We are very thankful to have crossed her path at the right time in our journey.

- EI, Rye, NY

Dr. Pratt is compassionate and well-informed about the various challenges and available options for children with special needs. She is always willing to brainstorm options with parents and has a way of getting through to the children.

- Best, Pooja

It is almost impossible to explain the dramatic and positive effect Dr Shelese Pratt has had on my health. It is without exaggeration that I say Dr Pratt has saved my life on numerous occasions. To say her work has dramatically increased the quality of my life is gross understatement. There is not an aspect of my physical, mental, or emotional health that Dr Pratt has not addressed at some point during my years as her patient. I first saw Dr Pratt in 2005, after suffering one infection after another over the course of three months and had exhausted my known medial avenues. She was the only doctor to see the connection to between all of my symptoms and to care long enough and deep enough to get to the bottom of them. I have sent countless loved ones and colleagues to her over the years and know that the level of her care has changed their lives for better without exception. I have had the privilege of seeing Dr Pratt for Brain Integration, naturopathic, and homeopathic treatments and I can say without any reservation that I credit my health and well being to her and her practice.

- Erica A., Naturopathic Medicine Patient