A Healthy Gut is Vital for a Happy Mood

June 11, 2018 | Wellness Resources

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 A Healthy Gut is Vital for a Happy Mood
There has been a shift in the paradigm of depression research and treatment. The old way of thinking was to address neurotransmitter imbalances in serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. The traditional medical treatment is SSRIs (Celexa, Prozac, Zoloft or Paxil), MAOs, or Tricylcic antidepressants. Unfortunately, only one to two out of ten patients report improved symptoms beyond the placebo group with these medications. Scientists now know that there is so much more to the puzzle of depression than just neurotransmitter balance in the brain.

Your Brain is on Fire

Your body typically recognizes inflammation as pain, but brain inflammation can be hard to identify since we do not have pain receptors in the brain. Depression is one major sign that your brain is on fire with too much inflammation.

The traditional medical approach fails to address underlying brain inflammation. In fact, studies show antidepressants are less effective with the use of anti-inflammatory drugs like Ibuprofen, Naproxen, and Aspirin, which suggests that antidepressants actually increase brain inflammation. Other studies support the theory that depression is a symptom of chronic inflammation in the body. Inflammation is a normal part of the healing process in the body, but when inflammation is chronic and ongoing, depressive symptoms can get locked in.

How Bugs Influence Mood

One of the very best ways to calm inflammation in the brain is by reducing inflammation in the gut. This is because the brain and the gut communicate with one another via an information highway referred to as the gut-brain axis. If you have ever had a case of the butterflies from being in an anxious situation or have lost your appetite when nervous, you have experienced communication between your brain and gut first-hand. Surprising research is showing the comunication is back-and-forth: the bacteria in your gut can talk to your brain via the vagus nerve, a long nerve that acts like a telephone wire between the gut and brain. That means if your gut health is out of balance, it can trigger inflammation in the brain.

There are trillions of bacteria in your gut that help protect you from potential threats in our environment. If the gut bacteria sense a potential threat has entered the body (i.e. an allergen, toxin, or an infection from an unfriendly bacteria), they launch a red alert signal via the vagus nerve in the form of inflammation to let the brain know. That means, if the bacteria in your belly are happy, then you are happy. If not, then you have some work to do.

Repairing Your Gut

There are many possible drivers of gut inflammation that could lead to depressive symptoms. One common cause of gut inflammation is dysbiosis, an imbalance of the beneficial and non-beneficial bacteria in the gut. It is characterized by having too many bad bugs and not enough good bugs than what the body can handle.

Another possible cause of brain inflammation is having a leaky gut. Leaky Gut Syndrome is a very real condition that doctors are only just beginning to acknowledge, but scientists have decades of research showing that a leaky gut is associated with digestive issues, inflammation throughout the body, and depressive symptoms.

Your digestive tract lining has tiny junctions that act like doors to selectively allow nutrient absorption but keep out potentially harmful substances. If you have a leaky gut, the doors are left open and particles from the digestive tract that wouldn't normally be allowed to enter the bloodstream can sneak in. The presence of foreign particles prompts the immune system to send out alarm signals to deal with the perceived invader. This leads to chronic, low-grade inflammation throughout the body. If inflammation settles into the brain, over time depressive symptoms can develop.

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