Our gut and brain are closely connected; therefore the gut-depression connection is something I’m really interested in exploring. The state of your gut has a huge impact on the rest of your health and looking at it from my point of view now, that makes perfect sense. But I didn’t always see it that way. I used to think that my depression and anxiety were simply a mental health issue. A problem of the brain, and that’s that. Which just isn’t the case at all!
Our bodies are completely interconnected and issues occurring in one part of the body may actually have their roots somewhere else. It’s exactly this concept that’s being explored in regards to depression, anxiety and many other mental health issues.
Let’s get back to basics for a minute here. The gut refers to the place where food is digested, metabolized and absorbed to be delivered to your cells and provide the body with energy. The process of breaking down food creates bio-active compounds that can either support your health or lead to inflammation upping your risk for disease in the body. There are several factors that contribute to the state of your gut microbiome (the billions of live bacteria living in your gut), from the use of antibiotics, to your diet, even to the method you were born (c-section babies have different bacteria than those born vaginally).
It’s estimated that the human gut microbiome contains approximately 35,000 different strains of bacteria. Pretty crazy right? So while some things you can’t control, like how you were born, what you can control now is what you put into your body. What foods you eat, what you drink and how often you take antibiotics seriously affects the balance of your microbiome.
What so many people are affected by now, with the generally unhealthy Western diet, is something called dysbiosis. Which is basically a disruption in the gut bacterial profile – the “bad” guys are outnumbering the “good”. And this can lead to many, many different health issues; asthma to depression, anxiety to cardiovascular and more.
So what’s the gut-depression connection?
Chemicals called neurotransmitters are one of the ways your gut and brain are connected. An important one you’ve probably heard of is serotonin which contributes to feelings of happiness. Almost 90% of serotonin is produced in the gut. If your gut is off-balance – your mood could be too. Another neurotransmitter that your gut microbes produce is called GABA and this one helps control feelings of fear and anxiety.
When there is an imbalance in your gut microbes the production of these important neurotransmitters is then affected. Which in turn, throws your mood and emotions off balance and can lead to depression.
So brain health can be affected by the state of your gut. Now you can start to shift that. Changing your gut bacteria, or adding in more beneficial strains of bacteria could be a beginning to healing depression and anxiety.
Adding in fermented foods like sauerkraut or drinks like water kefir and kombucha contain healthy microbes that will be beneficial to your gut.
It can be hard to get the amounts of healthy microbes from food alone though, which is why I take a probiotic supplement everyday as well. You can check out my favourite high quality probiotic here.
Also, think about adding in omega-3’s as these have a strong impact on both gut and brain health as well. I’ll link to my choice for those here.
When approaching a healing journey in regards to depression and anxiety, it’s important to take one small step at a time. There’s a ton of information out there and I understand how overwhelming it can all be. Especially from a state of mental imbalance. It can feel like a long, uphill battle. I’ve been there, I get it.
One step at a time, one day at a time!
As always, I’m here for you to reach out to at any time!
Love + Light