Gut Inflammation link to anxiety & depression
by Sue Kira, Naturopath & Clinical Nutritionist
Many people suffer from the debilitating effects of anxiety and depression and studies have shown a link between these symptoms and inflammation in the gut and leaky gut.
Interestingly, the incidence of anxiety and depression is increasing, while the incidence of poor gut health also increases. A coincidence?
After consulting with more than 15,000 clients, I estimate that at least 85% of them (and that’s being conservative) had gut issues that adversely affected their health.
Why is poor gut health on the increase? Reasons include poor diet, denatured food, less time spent in the kitchen, fast food, the overuse of antibiotics…and more.
Other key factors are stress and elevated cortisol, low cortisol or cortisol resistance. Cortisol resistance is where the body doesn’t recognise or is resistant to the message from cortisol that there is a stress response in the body. Kind of like ‘the boy who cried wolf’ syndrome.
Cortisol is our body’s way to deal with stress and inflammation but if either are prolonged then we can create ‘resistance’ and therefore the cortisol no longer reduces inflammation even if cortisol levels are high. The result of this is a prolonged inflammatory state.
Inflammation signals the release of white blood cells called Monocytes into the blood, which turn on proinflammatory genes that lead to the release of inflammatory cytokines.
Once triggered, the inflammatory cytokines talk to the central nervous system, via the Vagus nerve, which connects the gut and the brain, activating microglia in the brain, releasing an enzyme called IDO (indoleamine 2, 3-dioxygenase) which stimulates production of biomolecules that can result in symptoms of anxiety, restlessness, agitation or even panic attacks.
We often relate the cause of anxiety and depression to a brain biochemistry fault, when the cause could indeed be coming from the gut being inflamed, leaky or dysbiotic (wrong balance of bacteria).
Consider this: if medication for anxiety or depression is working, then the cause may well be a brain biochemistry imbalance; but if medication is not working effectively, the cause could be related to gut issues. It’s worth checking.
There are many ways to check if you have gut inflammation. In clinic, I use Live Blood screening to view the various types of blood cells and other factors visible. I also use external tests, particularly the gut microbiome testing that looks at things like leaky gut, digestion markers, bacteria levels (good and bad), viruses, parasites and fungi like Candida species. Another good test I often use is Organic Acid testing. For more on tests, view here.
The right tests provide valuable information which may uncover underlying causes of anxiety, depression, restlessness and generally feeling out of sorts.
If you would like to book an in-clinic, skype or phone consultation which may help to unravel the root causes, please click here
I look forward to meeting you to help you reclaim your vitality.
With love, Sue Kira N.D