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Friday, 2 August 2019

When Your Gut Gets Depressed, You Do Too ...

Niraj Naik writes:
Do you suffer from chronic gut issues such as constipation, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or Colitis? Or perhaps you’re suffering from depression? Or maybe even a combination of things? 

Unfortunately, both these physical and psychological ailments are all too common. According to, between 25 and 45 million people suffer from this in the United States alone. That’s about 10-15% of the worldwide population. For depression, worldwide, the WHO registers around 300 million people who suffer from this illness. These statistics are staggering. Something’s not right. 

Doctors tell us they don’t really know the cause of these problems and they prescribe medications to help calm the symptoms, but these medications don’t actually fix the issue. However, inflammatory disease can often be traced to a treatable source. 

What is “Gut Depression”?
Think of issues like IBS, Crohn’s Disease, or Colitis as the result of “gut depression”. Think of that feeling you get right before giving a speech or taking a test, or the feeling when you hear bad news. Emotions all centre towards your gut. You feel tension there as your body holds stress. 

Gut depression is actually when your gut, in some way or another, has stopped functioning effectively. It may manifest as constipation, IBS, ulcers, colitis, or something else. All because something has thrown your gut system out of whack. 

Our guts are delicate systems filled with microbes and more: 95% of serotonin is in the gut, and the majority of our immune cells as well. External stressors can upset this balance, trigger painful symptoms, and cause inflammation throughout the body. 

External stressors could include psychological trauma such as work- or family-related stress. Physical stressors could be poor diet or negative habits such as binge drinking or overusing antibiotics. When these stressors are regular, they can cause chronic inflammation in the gut, which is the root of many symptoms and diseases of the gut and beyond.

Our Second Brain 
Our gut is considered our “second brain”. To process food and send nutrients to your body is not its only job: your gut is responsible for sending messages to your actual brain. 

The gastrointestinal system totals a length of about 9 meters from oesophagus to anus. Within this system are over 100 million neurotransmitters, transferring impulses or signals between neurons or nerve cells. This is collectively called the Enteric Nervous System - the official name for the second brain. 

To put it simply, studies have shown that the Enteric and Central Nervous System can work independently of each other, yet are in constant communication. The vagus nerve - the longest nerve in our bodies - is the communication channel between our brain and guts. 

Our brain affects our gut, and vice versa. Contrary to initial conclusions, most information being sent through the vagus nerve is coming from the gut, not from the brain. So how we treat the gut determines how we feel psychologically.

The Standard American Diet (SAD) and Stress 
Unfortunately, the Standard American Diet, appropriately abbreviated as SAD has had a major effect on the balance in the gut, thus affecting the messages it sends to the brain. The Standard American Diet consists of highly processed foods, too much sugar, and other inflammation-triggering food groups such as gluten and dairy. 

Your body has difficulty processing these foods, placing some stress on the gut and creating health problems such as IBS or symptoms of depression, due to the changes they’re making in the microbiome. 

Outside stress can take a huge toll on your gut and Enteric Nervous System. Stress and anxiety can be felt in the gut, affecting the way the digestive system operates. The brain sends messages to the gut when something is wrong. 

Also, because of poor diet and health habits, the gut could be struggling to send its messages to the brain that something’s not right, which could affect your mental state. Gastrointestinal stress can upset the brain chemistry balance in the CNS and cause negative mental states such as anxiety. 

All of this boils down to our daily emotions and state of mind. While we have been taught that our emotions, feelings, and mood are always coming from the brain, they may, in fact, be stemming from the gut. If your gut’s depressed, you get depressed too. 

The Natural Solutions 
The research on this topic is constantly evolving. In the future, scientists may find even greater links between our Enteric and Central nervous systems and how gut health could have an even further-reaching effect on our brains and their ability to think, process, and deal with the world. 

Despite what you may hear, there are ways to help with gut problems. The body is designed to heal, and by helping it along the way, you can relieve your symptoms naturally and help prevent or heal symptoms of inflammation-causing depression or painful digestive and gut issues. 

Take a look at these 4 natural solutions you can start implementing today: 
Start taking probiotics: These could be in capsule form or in fermented foods, such as yogurt. Start adding good bacteria to your gut system, so that it can better combat bad bacteria and put your system back in balance.
Avoid processed foods: There is so much research out there about the dangers of these foods as well as good alternative options, so switch to natural foods that your body recognizes and can digest effectively.
Cool it on the pharmaceuticals: Before popping a pill for each and every ailment, think of what’s been going on in your life and what you’ve been eating lately. Make those changes first to help get the gut back in business.

Reduce physical and psychological inflammation: Be sure to exercise, get enough sleep, eat a high-vegetable diet, and take time out to relax. By helping to reduce the inflammation in our lives, both physical and psychological, we can help guide our guts back to happy functioning and thus help our mental states as well. 
Picture and words from article here

You may wish to read this related article 'Foods to Improve Digestion', find it here

Dear reader, you will find a variety of articles, studies etc. plus recent news/views and recipe ideas within this blog, we hope something for everyone to read and enjoy...

But please note, not all may be suitable for you. If you may have any food allergies, or underlying health issues these must always be taken into account. If you are a diabetic and not sure how certain foods may affect your blood sugars, test is best, i.e. use your meter.

All the best Jan


Sally said...

So much good information here, Jan. My daughter had her large intestine, colon, removed when she was in her 20's. It was a long road getting there. Perhaps if we'd known some of what you've shared, things might have been different. :(


Aritha said...

Thank you so much. I am learning so much through your blog posts. Get enough sleep, eat vegetables and take time out to relax is such a good advice.

Christine said...

Thanks for these good tips.

peppylady (Dora) said...

Never heard of gut depression.
Coffee is on said...

Interesting, I'd not heard of gut depression.

Miss Val's Creations said...

This is so true and so difficult to deal with.

Chatty Crone said...

I copied that for myself! Very true! sandie

Elephant's Child said...

I really wish that more doctors were able to consider our ailments in a holistic way. The link between our body and our brains is one such example. Sadly I think that too often the symptoms rather than the cause are addressed.

Caty said...

Very interesting your post !! I´ve learnt a lot about our second brain!! Yes, we may take care .Thanks so much for sharing.
I wish you a very nice weekend,
Big hugs, Caty

Tom said...

...knock on wood, I don't have this problem!

Suzan said...

I feel triply blessed because just over two years ago I physiotherapist suggested I see a dietitian who specialised in gut problems. The theory was that because I have significant food allergies I probably had IBS. I was placed on a strict elimination diet based on the FODMAP plans. For me it was a revelation. So many foods became almost a permanent removal with trials every sixth months or so to see if I could introduce them. Yes some foods may well be permanently removed but I am more comfortable and I am thankful for that. Strangely I have suffered from severe depression from time to time.

baili said...

this is GREAT post dear Jan!

i dealt with constipation in my youth ,thank God i am free since many years now

i really admire your excellent posts that remind me most important stuff so i can never forget.

Iris Flavia said...

Very interesting read, thank you! Joghurt will be added to my list now!

Pam said...

IBS....YUCK. Been dealing with that for years. Made worse when I was on diabetic meds. It is one of those illnesses that go hand in hand with Fibromyalgia. Thanks also for your wonderful post. And thanks again for you sweet comments on my blog.

Practical Parsimony said...

I must have suffered from gut depression from birth. It turned out that I have allergies that affect my gut.
I refused to eat meat as a baby and child, and I am allergic to mammal products. The list goes on.

carol l mckenna said...

Wonderfully informative post ~ thanks, ^_^

Happy Day to You,
A ShutterBug Explores,
aka (A Creative Harbor)

Magic Love Crow said...

Excellent post!!! Thank you so much Jan! Big Hugs!