Depression has been linked to issues in the gut. Diet, oxygen and the bacteria and yeasts in the gut all play a role. Here are 8 simple steps which can make rapid changes.
1. Oxygenate your brain – take light to moderate exercise where you get out of breath. 45 minutes speed walking in the park may look a bit odd but it will boost your oxygen levels, increase happy hormones (endorphins), and change your mood. Best exercise for endorphins per minute is yoga. If you can’t do exercise – look into some Hyperbaric Oxygen. The Multiple Sclerosis Society may well have a chamber near you.
2. Change your Diet – some foods cause inflammation; some depress. So, start by eating lots of whole foods and especially soluble fibre – like whole oats, pulses (lentils, red kidney beans, chick peas etc.), nuts and seeds. Eat raw vegetables like carrots, onions, garlic; and fruits like apples. Avoid common sugar, dairy (lactose) and gluten as all can cause more inflammation in your body. Increase oily fish consumption (and supplement with fish or krill oil). Try a little green leaf salad, or even some dark chocolate before bed to increase serotonin levels.
3. Change your gut bacteria – in keeping with point 2, scientists have found a major link between the bacteria in your gut and your mood. Keep it simple. Start by taking a multi-strain probiotic every day. This should contain strains of Lactobacillus (like rhamnosus) and strains of Bifidobacteria (like infantis). You can boost your bacteria intake by using cloudy apple cider vinegar, sauerkraut, even a little kefir and unpasteurized cheese.
4. Kill any yeast infestations – the scourge of the modern Western World, if you’ve had drugs or antibiotics, eaten poorly, smoked, binge drink or been stressed, you will be one of the 70% of the adult population with excess yeasts. Drink three teaspoons of cinnamon in water, twice a day, or take oregano oil or caprylic acid. You could even take artemisinin for 8 weeks. If you don’t sort this out, yeasts can get into the blood stream. They reduce localized blood oxygen – not good if they are living around your brain.
5. Get outdoors – not just fresh air and exercise but sunshine – this increases vitamin D levels, nitric oxide and serotonin levels. It’s why lying in the sunshine gives you a feel good factor. You can take vitamin D, it does help, but sunshine is best.
6. Eliminate alcohol and moderate caffeine intake – both suppress serotonin, and link to depression.
7. Try an essential oil – these can all lift the symptoms of depression – Rosemary, Lavender, Frankincense, Lemon, Clary Sage, Bergamot, Ylang ylang, Orange.
8. Try a supplement – St John’s Wort* seems the favoured natural anti-depressant; Clevland Clinic reviewed 30 studies and concluded it worked in mild cases of depression. Other supplements include Theanine which releases GABA in the brain, B vitamins (your healthy gut bacteria normally make them; they help your neurotransmitters function) and 5-HTP, an amino acid which aids serotonin production.
* N.B. St John’s Wort can be contraindicated with certain drugs.