Depression has many facets. There are different factors at play: diet, genetics, environmental toxins, obesity, blood sugar, etc. The one thing that research is showing-depression is inflammatory dysfunction. The markers of inflammation in blood panels that you see for diabetes/blood sugar or heart disease is the same you will see in people suffering from depression. Common markers you will see in a blood test are A1C and C-reactive proteins(CRP).
A 2013 study showed that the higher the markers of inflammation, the higher the depression. (J. Affective Disorders 150, no. 3). So in essence, the more inflammatory foods we eat, the higher the chance of depression. An additional study in the early 2000’s showed a clear link between sugar consumption and depression. (Depression, Anxiety 16, no.3 2002). Sugar consumption leads to inflammation, inflammation leads to poor gut health, and poor gut health leads to depression.
The gut-brain connection was made well-known by books such as The Second Brain by Gershon, which described the neurological and chemical balancing act of these two systems. The gut has a nervous system all its own, and it spends all day producing chemicals such as hormones and neurotransmitters to keep your brain calm. Namely…Serotonin, which is your HAPPY CHEMICAL.
Over 90% of your serotonin is made in your digestive tract-the stomach and intestines. The other 10% is found in the platelets and brain. Inadequate amounts and even excessive amounts of serotonin can lead to OCD(obsessive-compulsive disorder), anxiety, phobias, fears, and PTSD. There are clear genetic enzymes(MAO-A) that are linked to serotonin breakdown which will be discussed later. If you want to go further, check out the research on the serotonin receptor, serotonin-1A and its link to depression and anxiety.
The 90% of serotonin made in your gut and what helps your body produce serotonin is the good bacteria in your digestive tract. The bacteria in your body are numbered in the trillions, and they create an information pathway that runs directly to the brain. The brain receives signals of how the bacteria/digestive tract is doing and will send signals back to fortify that everything keeps running smoothly. This connection helps control your serotonin and chemical levels throughout the body, as well as the hormonal signals responsible for hunger, fullness, inflammation or pain.
Your microbiome(gut bacteria):
* Protect your gut lining-Leaky gut is a condition where cracks form in your gut walls that allow infections and toxic food particles to slip into the blood stream creating an inflammatory response.
* Aid in food digestion by producing enzymes
* Produce vitamins and neurotransmitters that we ourselves cannot
What harms your gut lining and damages the microbiome? Excessive amounts of SUGAR. Research is showing that gut inflammation can create higher risks of diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, asthma, allergies, and autism.
To start a healthy cascade of healing the gut, please reduce your daily sugar intake!