It was believed that the causes of depression were primarily neurological or originate in the brain, but recent research indicates the depression’s root cause may be directly related to bacteria found in the gut.
Doctors and nutritionists have always known there is a connection between the brain and the gut. Research shows that the gut has a mind of it’s own called the enteric nervous system. According to UK based nutritional therapist, Eve Kalinik,
“the brain and gut neurons are directly connected via the vagus nerve, explaining why we feel “butterflies in the stomach” when faced with an anxiety-provoking situation.”
So how does bacteria in the gut cause depression?
Causes of Depression
Scientists were able to discover that the cause of depression, anxiety, and several paediatric disorders, including autism and hyperactivity, have been linked with gastrointestinal abnormalities. Like other chronic diseases such as obesity, heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, depression is primarily an inflammatory condition. To be specific, gut inflammation is the root of depression.
This one revelation has the potential to profoundly impact the medical field and be a major step forward in effectively treating and possibly curing people plagued by depression. While changing a person’s bacteria is still a stretch for doctors, it is easier and more straightforward than trying to change an individual’s genes.
Treating the gut causes of depression
There are some things you can do to help reduce “bad” bacteria and cultivate good bacteria in your gut.
- Eat more whole foods– by eating more whole foods and reducing the amount of processed foods you can eliminate gastronomical inflammation. The manipulation processed foods undergoes introduces unnatural toxins and chemicals into your system. Your body has to struggle to break down chemical compounds that are foreign and not intended for the human body. In fact, one study suggests that eating a lot of nutrient-sparse processed foods could up your chances of becoming depressed by as much as 60 percent.
- Avoid processed forms of sugar, dairy and gluten– Natural sugars, grains and dairy products are good for you. Refined sugars, gluten and processed dairy products have been altered from their natural state. These alterations promote the development of bad bacteria and drastically reduce nutritional value–leaving your brain starved and causing it to malfunction.
- Eat plenty of fats and proteins–Not all fat is bad for you. Researchers believe that chicken, turkey, brazil nuts, eggs, avocados and oily fish all have a powerful impact on our mental state. These are sources of important amino acids, vitamins and minerals, which convert into mood-enhancing brain chemicals.
- Get plenty of Vitamin D– Vitamin D is required for overall brain development and function. Vitamin D deficiency is sometimes associated with depression and other mood disorders. Sunshine, fortified cereals, breads, juices and milk are packed with this essential vitamin.
- Skip the supplements if possible– Work to get your nutritional needs met through healthy eating habits and not supplements. Nutrients work together in context. Scientists are diligently working to discover if low levels of nutrients are the cause or consequence of poor brain health. You can’t “biohack” your way out of depression with a few pills or “superfoods.”
Science is not definitive and is constantly evolving. If you or your loved one is depressed, seek professional help. And along with following the advice of the medical professional, remember that the root cause of your depression just may be in your gut. By changing your diet and paying attention to how your stomach feels, your road to recovery could be short and sweet.