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Is Your Gut Making You Depressed?

The gastrointestinal tract is sensitive to emotion. Anger, anxiety, sadness, elation — all of these feelings (and others) can trigger symptoms in the gut. Our brain has a direct effect on the stomach. Even the very thought of food can release the stomach's juices before the food even gets there. This connection has now been proven to go both ways. A troubled intestine can send signals to the brain, just as a troubled brain can send signals to the gut. Therefore, a person's stomach can be the cause or the product of anxiety, stress, or depression. That's because the brain and the gastrointestinal system are intimately connected and affect your moods and behaviours.

Our body is a dwelling place for about 100 trillion bacteria and other microbes, collectively known as our microbiome. They do many important things: break down our food, fight off infection, and boost our immune system. However, scientists are finding that they may do even more than that, and have an important role in our mental health.

Gut bacteria influences serotonin and dopamine production. In fact, more than 90% of the body’s serotonin is found in the gut. Serotonin is a key regulator of gastrointestinal motility. Serotonin is also one of the “feel-good” neurotransmitters and contributes to feelings of well-being and happiness.

Research has proven people who eat a healthy diet - high in vegetables, fruits, lean meats, fish, nuts, seeds, legumes and eggs are less likely to get depressed than those who eat mostly processed, packaged, salty, sugary and fatty foods.

Following a healthy diet is not just about losing weight, it is a vital part of our general happiness!

A cupcake may briefly lift your spirits, but these steps and dietary changes can keep you happier in the long run and may even prevent depression.

Step 1: Cut out all processed packaged food which will mean you automatically eat less salt, sugar and saturated fats as well as chemically interfered with foods which have been found to aid depression.

Step 2: Add fermented foods, such as kimchi, pickles, sauerkraut, kombucha, kefir and yoghurt, to your diet for a good natural source of probiotics. You can also take a high-strain probiotic supplement such as a clinical strength probiotic and look for new prebiotics, to promote a healthy gut environment.

Step 3: Munch on walnuts and pistachios. They're a rich source of vitamin B6, which the body needs to produce serotonin, staving off depression. Sunflower seeds, bananas, avocados, spinach and wheat germ are also good sources of B6.

Step 3: Fill up on fish. Eat at least two servings of fish per week. The omega-3 fatty acids in seafood increase serotonin levels, and some research indicates that people who eat fish less than once a week have about a 30 percent higher incidence of depression. Flax seeds are also a great source of Omega 3.

Step 4: Eat foods that contain folic acid, also called folate - spinach, lentils, beans, broccoli, asparagus, and peas. Researchers have found a possible link between depression and low levels of this B vitamin.

Step 5: Enjoy chicken and turkey; drink green tea and eat tofu, nuts, seeds and oats as they all have high levels of tryptophan, an amino acid that is essential to the production of serotonin. If you are deprived of tryptophan there is more chance of depression.

Step 6: Don't skip the carbs. When you're feeling stressed, eat complex carbohydrates like wholemeal pasta, brown rice, oats, quinoa, wholmeal bread, beans, lentils or sweet potato. Complex carbohydrates enable tryptophan to enter the brain whereas simple carbs like white bread, white rice, cakes, pastries, softdrinks, sugar and honey are rapidly absorbed, causing a spike in blood sugar affecting mood, energy levels and nutrients absorbed in the stomach.

Step 7: Avoid sugar, gluten, additives, caffeine and alcohol. These foods are harmful to the balance of your gut flora

and encourage gut imbalance in your gut flora caused by too few beneficial bacteria and an overgrowth of bad bacteria, yeast, and/or parasites!

Step 8: Stay Hydrated. Ensuring you drink enough fluids will help create healthy bowel motions and flush toxins from your body.

Step 9: Exercise! Move your body and exercise to create healthy circulation to the digestive system.

Hope this helps


Lifestylist Health & Fitness

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