Depressed? Check Your Gut

Depressed? Check Your Gut.

Depression can be such a funky thing, especially because of its complexity.  Most people inherently “get” that we are creatures with body, mind, and spirit.  So, it should not be too surprising that issues like depression can be healed by addressing heart issues and also giving the body some TLC.

Up until recently, depression has popularly been treated with prescriptions for SSRIs (serotonin reuptake inhibitors, which address the deficiency in the “happy” neurotransmitters like serotonin).  There also may be a few sessions of counseling, followed by a talk about coping skills.

But healing depression is much more holistic in nature.  It is important to address the spiritual roots, like feeling disconnected from God or facing bitterness, or finally forgiving yourself and those who have wounded you in the past.  Ministries like House of Hope are equipped and ready to meet with you, and to talk with you and your family as you heal from a painful season in your life.  When we have strongholds and enemy oppression working in our souls, depression has all the fertilizer it needs to take over your mood.

Depression is also linked to our emotions, which are rooted in what we believe.  If we have negative strongholds, thoughts, belief patterns, our feelings will follow.  Proverbs 23:7 says this: “For as [a person] thinks in his heart, so is he….”  And the Word urges us to “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life” – Proverbs 4:23.  Bitterness and being ungrateful are open doors for negative thinking and depression to come soaring in.

Entire articles could be written on any one angle of healing from depression.  Here I will focus on one area that is not well understood by many: the physical connection.  Make no mistake, if any one of the 3 pillars to health is neglected, ill health creeps in.  We are super wise to take care of ourselves in all areas.

So, how exactly can we help to heal depression in our bodies?

Our moods are linked to the amount of “feel good” neurotransmitters produced by our gut.  70% of our immune system or more resides in our gut, as well.  The gut is comprised of every organ and part from our mouth, to the esophagus, stomach, and down to the intestines, and ends with the rectum and anus.  The liver, pancreas, and gallbladder are the solid organs of our digestive tract.  Our guts absorb nutrients and is the home to our microbiome, which describes the billions upon billions of helpful microbes that live in our GI tract.  The intestinal walls of our gut are where our nutrition is absorbed.  These walls must deal with the presence of foreign invaders as well as usable nutrition.  When there is a threat (like a virus, bacteria, or large particle of food that slipped through a tear in the intestinal lining (known as Leaky Gut), inflammation occurs.  This inflammation is wide-spread and can travel all the way to your brain (1).  It does this by way of the vagus nerve.

Stay with me, here!  The vagus nerve is the two-way “highway” that connects our intestines and our brains.  It features 600 million nerve cells!  These cells are highly sensitive and transmit powerful information from the body to our brain.  Thus, if you feel anxious or stressed, your mind and gut are communicating!  In fact, the stress doesn’t just stay in your head, as you know – it affects your body, and it creates a very real and damaging inflammation (2, 3).

This resulting inflammation then can go crazy with your microbiome, extinguishing much or nearly all of your beneficial gut microorganisms.  When this happens, you’re not efficient at creating the necessary neurotransmitters and immune responses.  Translation?  You can get sick, and, you can feel symptoms of depression.

We’ve discussed the connection between stress and gut health; now let’s talk a little bit about food.  What we eat and what we absorb into our bodies by way of air, water, and skin, greatly affects health.  Poor nutrition activates inflammation, too!  Some of these “kryptonite” foods include sugar, processed flours and foods, artificial or chemical sweeteners/colors/flavorings, preservatives, conventional dairy, gluten/non-organic, non-GMO gluten, soy, etc.  You know the culprits: fast foods, sugary lattes, donuts, standard potato chips, and many more.  Other substances we ingest that are harmful to our gut microbiome are prescription drugs, tap water, heavy metals, pesticides, and harmful microorganisms.

Not only can what we eat harm us, but it’s what we’re NOT eating that is also a problem!  We need to be taking in good probiotics, plenty of food-based minerals and vitamins, and eating nutrition that is rich in living enzymes.  You are probably getting the point!

Our water is also another contributor to our health (or ill-health).  Make sure it is of the best quality you can attain and afford, and is free from chlorine, fluoride, heavy metals, prescription drugs, pesticide residue, and more.  Look into a water distiller and supplement with liquid minerals, if you want the cleanest drinking water possible.  These units are available in countertop (pitcher-like) models or can be systems that are directly installed into your plumbing system.  Yes, getting serious about your H2O makes you somewhat of a water nerd, but could it be worth it?

If you want to get rid of depression, please have your gut health checked.  You can purchase a gut-microbiome test from uBiome that you can take in the comfort of your home:.  Armed with the results from this test, you can know how to better proceed.  Even without taking the test, you can begin to bless your gut!

First step: eliminate inflammatory foods and stressors.  Get to bed by 10 or 10:30pm, lights out, and cut out artificial lights from electronics by 8pm, unless you have an app like f.lux light.  Inflammatory foods are those that are described above.  For very sensitive people, this list may include more foods – please consult with a certified health coach or functional medicine practitioner to help determine what else you may need.

Second step: eliminate the bad gut bacteria and/or parasites that take up residence in your GI tract.  Two of my favorite aids for this process are diatomaceous earth and Nutribiotic grapefruit seed extract (GSE).  Both are natural, generally considered to be quite safe, cheap, and easy to take.  If you are on other medications or therapies, you will want to check with your practitioner before taking these supplements.  GSE especially can interact with medications and change their effect.

Third step: Re-introduce the good microbes by taking (or making) quality pro-biotics.  You can easily make your own probiotic fermented foods, though these are too acidic for some people.  You can also purchase high-quality probiotics, like those made by Garden of Life.

Also consider organic foods and supplements that love to heal your insides.  Foods like greens, wheatgrass powder, berries, pomegranates, zucchini, cruciferous vegetables, grass-fed animal products, pastured eggs, raw milk, etc.  A note about milk – raw milk affects the body differently than pasteurized milk.  Often times those who are lactose-intolerant can handle raw goat or cow’s milk!  Also, try cooking with ghee, since 99% or more of the irritating casein protein has been removed.  You may need to eliminate dairy altogether for a period of time if you are reacting negatively even to raw, organic, grassfed dairy products.  Consider taking supplements like turmeric (a great anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer food), zinc, ginger, quercetin, L-glutamine, Slippery Elm bark, magnesium citrate, vitamin C, digestive enzymes, and fermented cod liver oil. I use them with great results with clients, and they have been highly touted by integrative medical experts like Dr. Mark Hyman, Dr. Mercola, and others.

Fourth step: Consider going on a GAPS diet or healing nutritional plan, and get help from a health professional like a health coach or integrative or functional medicine doctor!  It can make all the difference in your health results to have someone supportive walking the journey with you.  It’s so worth it.  Check out www.revivehealthinstitute.org/health-coaching to get started with a free consultation.

Fifth step:  Always keep learning about what makes you healthy.  The more beneficial practices and nutrition that you weave into your life, the better your life will be.  And, if you need healing for your heart and spirit, don’t hesitate to reach out.  Call or text (434)960.1841 to be connected with someone who cares and can help.

Don’t hold back – take the next step.  You can feel surprisingly better faster than you think!

———-

References:

1.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28242200

2.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28209543

3.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28089638

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