Depression is not just a state of mind - the Gut Health Connection

Special guest post by Frances Dalton (Naturopath, Herbalist, Nutritionist) for the MINDD Foundation Depression the Gut Connection PhotoIf you're feeling depressed you should know that how you think and feel is directly affected by what you eat and how well you absorb it. This idea may seem strange, yet the fact is that eating the right food has been proven to improve your mood and emotional stability, sharpen your memory and keep your mind young.

The Gut-Brain Connection…

It used to be thought that all our thinking was done by the brain. We now know that the digestive system contains a vast number of nerves, and produces as many brain signaling chemicals (neurotransmitters) as the brain. The gut for example, produces 80-90% of the body’s serotonin, the ‘anti-depressant’ brain chemical. So in essence, you’re feeding two brains. Every time you eat something it sends signals to the brain because the gut and the brain are in permanent communication. This is why the right foods can make you happy and the wrong foods can make you feel anxious or depressed. Depression is primarily a nutrient deficiency. In severe cases it can be a nutrient dependency.

Here are 6 Simple Steps to help Overcome Depression

  1. Go and eat good food It is OK to be depressed if you are malnourished. If you eat badly you should be depressed. So don’t do that anymore. Eat nice big fresh vegetable salads, lots and lots of fresh fruit and nuts and seeds and quality protein. Good food chewed well. Eat fresh organic and wholesome food.
  2. Minimise the Six Brain Drainers sugar, stimulants like caffeine, stress, alcohol, toxic chemicals and allergy provoking foods.
  3. Take Niacin (Vitamin B3) If you’re depressed and you want to feel better take a good quality Multivitamin containing adequate amounts of B group vitamins plus extra Niacin at a separate time of day. Pure Niacin will cause a hot flush. The flush is necessary therapeutically. Vitamin B6 is also very important in overcoming depression
  4. Take High dose Vitamin C Vitamin C helps the body make certain chemicals that help improve your mood. Physicians giving large doses of Vitamin C have had striking success in reversing depression. It is a remarkably safe and inexpensive therapy to try.
  5. Eat lots of foods that contain Tryptophan Like Cashews and the dark meat in chicken and turkey. Tryptophan is converted in your body to Niacin and also to Serotonin both of which improve mood. Two handfuls of cashews give you the therapeutic equivalent of a prescription dose of Prozac.
  6. Add in Lecithin. Lecithin aids in the production of Acetylcholine. Acetylcholine among other things helps digestion, deeper breathing and slower heart rate – things you feel as relaxation.
Please be aware that if you are taking anti-depressant medication you cannot simply stop If you wish to discontinue its use you will need to do this under the supervision of a health care professional. However, you can start all of the steps above whilst still taking most anti-depressant medication. Please ‘ask a Naturopath’ for more advice on specific products and dosage guidelines. Find out more about the MINDD Foundation... References: “Optimal Nutrition For The Brain” by Patrick Holford “Orthomolecular Nutrition for Everyone” by Dr Abram Hoffer & Dr Andrew Saul “Clean” by Dr Alejandro Junger