Good Gut Health = Better Mental Health

Thank goodness mental health issues are no longer a taboo topic!

*originally published by CWHemp.com

At this point, if you haven’t personally had the joy of even mild anxiety or depression, you likely have a friend or loved one who’s experienced some mood issues. In fact, nearly seventeen percent of Americans are filling prescriptions for psychiatric drugs to treat these diagnoses, among others (1). Clearly, we have mental health on the mind.

One of the most interesting, reassuring and exciting developments in mental health is that potty talk has also lost its stigma with the discovery that our gut influences how we feel, and it’s not to be confused with gut stress after eating a spicy curry. Scientists now call our gastrointestinal tract our “2nd brain” (2) because while high-level reasoning and detailed thought processes are still handled by the brain brain, many of our ideas and feelings are dictated by the 30 feet organ running from the end of our esophagus to the anus.

This lengthy tract is where a network of 100 million neurons (2) carries information from the gut to our brain’s gray matter. Meaning, our enteric nervous system and gut microbiome (both science-y names for our GI tract) inform what goes on in our head. This has led scientists to reason that the source of anxiety and depression – in some cases—could be the war-torn lining of a gut that’s battled (among other things) over-the-counter and prescription drugs, everyday toxins in our environment, or low-quality, antagonistic foods (and not just the occasional spicy Indian dish).

Finding good solutions for matters of the mind has been tricky, with many turning to the long-term use of SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors). These pills can come with side effects that may not be desirable, chief of which is the recent discovery that their medical formulations disrupt the lining of the gut. And if the gut is disrupted, so is our brain.  So yes, you read that correctly – the drugs many take for anxiety and depression could create symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Thankfully researchers have found many alternative and complementary ways to calm our mind – easy, daily changes for soothing the gut and a few other key areas of the body.

Foods

The Journal of Neuroscience noted, “changes to the gut microbiome can affect emotional behavior and related brain systems.”(3) Thankfully this works both ways – meaning that you can double down and add beneficial foods to bolster healthy bacteria in your gut, while also eliminating foods that cause the 2nd brain incite internal warfare. (And you do NOT want to get caught on that firing line.)

 Remove the bad – Gluten, dairy, soy, refined sugar, and alcohol may cause “neuropsychiatric disorders including major depression” according to a study in Biological Psychiatry (4). Decreasing intake of these foods can reduce the angst in your digestive system and mind. But don’t just take our word for it. Try a 30-day elimination diet to see what reactions, if any, these foods cause within your body.

Add the good – After removing the unfriendly foods, add some nourishing ones, supportive of a happy enteric nervous system, such as:

Prebiotic foods (foods that feed beneficial bacteria) – onions, bananas, onions, raw garlic, and fresh dandelion greens, to name a few.

Probiotic supplements or probiotic-dense foods – this includes sauerkraut, pickles, kefir and other fermented foods.

 Other positive ways to influence your mental health:

Supplements

Cannabidiol (CBD) – We bet you can guess our favorite way to boost gut health…cannabinoids! Non-psychoactive and non-addictive, cannabinoids have shown positive effects for anxiety and depressive behaviors. (5) And, Charlotte’s Web is better than CBD alone. It contains a full spectrum of beneficial cannabinoids and plant compounds missing in single isolate CBD versions. (Many believe that these compounds work together to heighten their positive effect. Scientists call this the Entourage Effect.) Our Charlotte’s Web Everyday Hemp is a specially formulated blend of cannabinoids, naturally occurring antioxidants, and neuroprotectants.

Omega 3s- The positive effects of eating fish twice a week or supplementing for similar levels with a high-quality fish oil high in omega-3s has scientists intrigued as they’ve seen repeated studies showing polyunsaturated fatty acids as a valuable addition to depression treatments, and a possible aid in lowering future risk of depression. (6) (7)

Vitamin D – This vitamin plays a massive role in our mood. “Increasingly vitamin D deficiency is being associated with a number of psychiatric conditions,” according to an Australian research study (8). Since “Vitamin D is a member of the superfamily of nuclear steroid transcription regulators…[it] exerts control over a large number of genes.”(9) And it’s these genes that “regulate the immune system and release neurotransmitters that affect brain function and development.”(10) All of which is science talk to say- Vitamin D is a big player in the normal processes of our body, including mental health.

Physical Activity

Want to hear something awesome? Research studies show aerobic exercise being as effective in reducing depression as prescription medications.(11) This could be from supervised classes at the gym or at-home online sessions. …Suddenly Zumba class sounds a lot more appealing.

Whichever options you choose, we salute you and support you in caring for your — not one, but — two dynamic brains.

Have you experienced a correlation between your gut health and your mental health? Has taking CW seemed to improve digestion or food allergies? Tell us more!

References:

1. One in 6 Americans Take Antidepressants, Other Psychiatric Drugs: Study

http://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/one-6-americans-take-antidepressants-other-psychiatric-drugs-n695141

citing:

Adult Utilization of Psychiatric Drugs and Differences by Sex, Age, and Race

http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/article-abstract/2592697

2. Think Twice: How the Gut’s “Second Brain” Influences Mood and Well-Being

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/gut-second-brain/

3. Gut Microbes and the Brain: Paradigm Shift in Neuroscience

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4228144/

4. Inflammation and its discontents: the role of cytokines in the pathophysiology of major depression.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19150053

5. Cannabidiol, neuroprotection and neuropsychiatric disorders

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/292679412_Cannabidiol_neuroprotection_and_neuropsychiatric_disorders

6. Mayo Clinic.org: Depression

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/expert-answers/fish-oil-supplements/faq-20058143

7. Omega-3 fatty acids as treatments for mental illness: which disorder and which fatty acid?

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17877810

8. Vitamin D, effects on brain development, adult brain function and the links between low levels of vitamin D and neuropsychiatric disease.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22796576

9. Vitamin D and the brain.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21872806

10. Psychology Today

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-breakthrough-depression-solution/201111/psychological-consequences-vitamin-d-deficiency

11. Exercise and pharmacotherapy in the treatment of major depressive disorder. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17846259

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