We are continuing our discussion on mental health, specifically, depression.
Today, let’s talk about our second brain…Our gut.
It has only been recently that the discussion of gut health has been connected to our brain health.
According to Harvard Research, your gut processes many emotions and is in fact, extremely sensitive to anger, sadness, anxiety, excitement etc. Consider the last time you felt butterflies when you were nervous? That flitting about wasn’t felt in your brain, rather your gut? How about the last gut-wrenching experience you had? Just thinking about a tall, cup of your favorite custard or gelato, starts those gastric juices going…even before the car is parked.
This same concept works the other way as well. It is in the stomach, where acid and enzymes break down the nutrients in our food, and fat disperses it throughout your body, especially your brain. Your brain is an energy and nutrient hog! It needs a specific supply of nutrients and fat in order to function properly. When the microbiome, the good and bad bacteria in our gut, are in balance and harmony with one another, we experience good health. When this delicate balance is off, we experience increased inflammation, poor nutrient absorption, and immune dysfunction.
Researchers in the field of psychology are even speculating that brain diseases such as bi-polar, schizophrenia, depression and anxiety are manifestations of microbiome alternations. Incidentally, there is a completely new field of medicine emerging called Nutritional Psychiatry.
With this in mind, is it any surprise that depression has been on the rise, despite new technology in pharmaceuticals, with the ever increasing processing and chemical treatment of our food? Not to mention all the fad diets that come our way. We cut out food groups, eat extremes of one group or another. Even healthy food plans that offer ‘healthy’ convenient packaging of food is still over processed. Vitamins and supplements which are easily accessible today, are nothing more than chemicals, enhanced to act like food but are still, nonetheless, chemicals.
Did you know that every vitamin in nature, is paired with a mineral? For example, Vitamin C complex in nature contains Ascorbic Acid and four parts within the outer ascorbic acid shell; Vitamin P (Bioflavinoid), Vitamin J, Vitamin K and the mineral Copper. Copper is essential to build up your adrenals and your adrenals produce the hormone cortisol that helps you deal with stress.
When you go to your favorite big box store to grab some Vitamin C, unless it is food based, it will be synthetically made out of cornstarch and sulfuric acid. All that is, is Ascorbic Acid. If you take too much of that, you will create a deficiency in the Vitamin P, J, K and copper and can actually develop problems associated with a Vitamin C deficiency. From this example, you can see that even our best intentions to supplement our already poor and processed diet with vitamins, is keeping us sick and possibly depressed.
So, what does all of this have to do with depression? If your gut health is suffering, so will your brain health. If you want to improve your depression and anxiety, let’s focus on feeding our brain whole, real nutrients. It takes 2-4 weeks for an anti-depressant medication to begin working but your gut health and brain health can show improvements in just 3-5 days with proper nutrients and food.
If you are suffering with depression, what can you do today to self care? Start by cleaning up your diet. It sounds painful and time consuming but so worth it. Eliminate processed foods and diets. Focus on feeding your body nutrients and whole fats, not calories. Stop the sugary, salty, refined treats and even convenience packaged foods that claim to be healthy. Real food is the start of real health changes.
In the next article, we discuss which nutrients will increase your gut and brain health and easy sources of food to get those all important nutrients from!