Depression Hurts, Diet Can Help

Posted by on Apr 14, 2014 in Depression, Gut health | 0 comments


According to the National Institutes of Health, one fourth of Americans suffer from depression, and over twelve billion dollars are spent for antidepressants annually.  The more we understand about the gut-brain connection, the clearer it is that nutrition plays a major role in depression.  A meta-analysis of studies in 2010 showed a strong correlation between depression and obesity, both of which have a root of systemic inflammation.  Our fat tissues release inflammatory cytokines, which play a role in insulin resistance and cardiovascular disease.  They can also cause inflammation in the brain.  Insulin resistance causes a cascading effect—insulin resistance causes sympathetic nervous system over stimulation, which increases cortisol levels, which causes the body to lose magnesium.  This can lead to migraine headaches and insomnia.

The intake of refined sugar has a similar effect, causing excess glucose, which degenerates brain function and causes an overproduction of cortisol.  Increased cortisol has been linked to weight gain.  There has been an increase in sugar intake from 2 pounds a year in 1940 to 150 pounds a year in many of today’s teens who drink daily soft drinks.

Systemic inflammation can also be caused by food intolerance, especially wheat gluten, dairy and nuts.  People with celiac disease report higher levels of depression.  Lactose [dairy] intolerance has been linked to malabsorption of tryptophan.  This leads to a serotonin deficiency, clinical depression, anxiety, and ADD/ADHD.  A similar reaction can be caused by high fructose corn syrup.

Vitamin deficiency including Vitamin D and selenium can contribute to depression.  The metabolism of refined sugar uses up the body’s vitamins and minerals, especially the B vitamins, which are vital for maintaining mood.

Want to learn more about getting your body back on track?  Check out Dr. Deanna’s Healing Handbook:

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