gut-feelWhat do heart disease and depression have in common? Both stem from inflammation! Studies have shown that the same inflammatory markers that are high in heart disease patients are present in patients experiencing depression. In fact it is commonly observed that depression is found alongside other inflammatory conditions such as autoimmune, cardiovascular, and neurodegenerative diseases amongst others. In his post on this topic, Dr. Mercola expounds on the connection between inflammation and depression:

“A recent review has pointed out several mechanisms by which gastrointestinal inflammation may play a critical role in the development of depression.

 

Among them:

  1. Depression is often found alongside gastrointestinal inflammations and autoimmune diseases as well as with cardiovascular diseases, neurodegenerative diseases, type 2-diabetes and also cancer, in which chronic low-grade inflammation is a significant contributing factor. Thus researchers suggested “depression may be a neuropsychiatric manifestation of a chronic inflammatory syndrome.”
  2. Research suggests the primary cause of inflammation may be dysfunction of the “gut-brain axis.” Your gut is literally your second brain — created from the identical tissue as your brain during gestation — and contains larger amounts of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which is associated with mood control.It’s important to understand that your gut bacteria are an active and integrated part of your body, and as such are heavily dependent on your diet and vulnerable to your lifestyle. If you consume a lot of processed foods and sweetened drinks, for instance, your gut bacteria are likely going to be severely compromised because processed foods in general will destroy healthy microflora and sugars of all kinds feed bad bacteria and yeast, as well as promote systemic inflammation.
  3. An increasing number of clinical studies have shown that treating gastrointestinal inflammation with probiotics, vitamin B, vitamin D and omega-3 fats may also improve depression symptoms and quality of life by attenuating proinflammatory stimuli to your brain.”
 
As pointed out in the previous quote, controlling inflammation in the gut may be the primary step in quelling the responses in the brain that manifest as depression. Further studies have linked gut health to mental health including one that indicated that patients supplementing with even very low doses of probiotics had altered brain activity, reducing certain brain response when faced with emotionally challenging images. In essence, improving the gut flora balance may improve your brain’s ability to face emotional challenges. (Read more here.) In addition to these preliminary studies on probiotics and their affects on mental health, Dr. Perlmutter goes more in depth regarding research that links markers for gut permiability (leaky gut) with depression and several other neurological disorders. Watch the video of his intriging discussion on gut health and mental health here.
 
Balancing gut flora, however, is only part of the picture. To promote a healthy gut, one must address those things that lead to gut inflammation as well. If you’ve been feeling blue, follow your gut feeling! Schedule a Functional Physical with your doctor at Lake Pointe to address the root cause. 
image credit: learntotradethemarket.com
Be Happy

 

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