Depression and the Gut

If you’re feeling like your gastrointestinal health isn’t all it could be, there are things you can do to help it heal, and you may be surprised how a healthier gut alleviates depression and anxiety.

I’m writing a new book on depression. How it could be infectious, caused by inflammation and allergic reaction. And about how tweaks in diet and lifestyle, including adoption of positive thinking therapy, can help treat depression and anxiety. Leading psychologists are now saying depression has as much to do with the mind as the body. The head is connected to the body after all, though maybe I should say the head is connected to the gut…
 
I have a friend who has suffered from depression, anxiety, and whose conversation is loop of obsessive, negative thought patterns. While charismatic and delightful, he is also exhausting to be around. He can’t let go of petty grievances, anger over perceived slights, and jealous rages. This depression is damaging every part of his life. While his diet has dramatically improved, dropping the processed foods and sugary sweets, he can’t stop drinking diet sodas, taking over-the-counter pain and sleeping pills. All of this has helped decimate the beneficial bacteria in his gut. Without the help of a laxative he couldn’t go to the bathroom. That would be enough to depress anyone! I’ve come to believe my friend’s gut health may be a big factor in his depression. All the fake sugar in his diet drinks, the aspirin, acetaminophen, and caffeine in the headache pills, the sleep medication, and the processed foods his family used to eat have done a number on his overall health and sense of wellbeing. I should know.  My early 20s were a festival of fast food, diet coke, gin and tonics, and cigarettes; I’ve never been more unhappy or unhealthy. Thanks in large part to a dreadful diet and depressing lifestyle, those years were wasted. But, I fixed it, starting with my gut. 

“The gut microbiota is essential to human health and the immune system and plays a major role in the bidirectional communication between the gut and the brain. Based on evidence, the gut microbiota is associated with metabolic disorders such as obesity, diabetes mellitus and neuropsychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, autistic disorders, anxiety disorders and major depressive disorders.” (from a study in Clinical Psychopharmacology and Neuroscience)

If you’re feeling like your gastrointestinal health isn’t all it could be, here are 5 ways you can help it heal, and you may be surprised how a healthier gut alleviates depression and anxiety.

Here are 5 Steps to Heal Your Gut:

  1. Get to the root cause of your inflammation. Find a Functional Medicine doctor near you. If depressed, consult a psychologist, especially one that practices positive thinking therapy.
  2. Stop medications that destroy your microbiota: anti-inflammatory pain medication, aspirin, acid blockers, and antibiotics (unless absolutely necessary).
  3. Cool down inflammation. Drop gluten, added sugars (or alternative sweeteners), or dairy from your diet for six weeks. Do a reset. 
  4. Take probiotics. 40-100 billion organisms a day of mixed probiotic strains. (I take a multi-probiotic daily.) 
  5. Use nutrients to heal the gut. A diet high in fiber from fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, fresh herbs, naturally fermented foods, and whole grains. An excellent multi-vitamin, Omega-3 fish oil, and curcumin.
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About the Author:

Tania Van Pelt is the creator of Happiness Series. She is a writer and content creator, working in film, tv, and online. She wrote the popular lifestyle book “Ageless Diet,” published in late 2015. And she is currently working on her next book. She also developed a sitcom pilot set in the restaurant business called “Employees Only TV” and is developing another web series comedy about Denver.

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