My best friend battles anxiety and depression. He has for many years. As he was leaving the military, the doctors there prescribed him a very high dose of antidepressants. Since I have known him, he has sought out as much research as he can find to understand what it is that he is dealing with, and if he is inevitably condemned to taking pills, panic attacks and depression for the rest of his life. As I dove in with him in his search for knowledge, I myself have found myself longing for others to know the truth. You are not condemned to life as you now know it. The brain is an amazing organ that adapts incredibly well. We just have to give it the right tools to rebuild.
I will put the disclaimer out there that I am not a doctor. However, that being said, there is a lot of research out there that advocates the brain-gut connection. What are some of the key things that we discovered? This may shock you… the gut is even more important than the brain for producing hormones like serotonin. In fact, 90% of serotonin is made in the gut!
Ok, so if that is the case, how does the american diet measure up to help our gut be healthy? It fails absolutely miserably. Antibiotics, stress, traumatic experiences, toxins, etc… all of these things contribute to a condition known as Leaky Gut.
What is Leaky Gut? It is when the gut flora is damaged and allows toxins to leak through the protective layer, causing contaminates to enter the blood stream. This causes inflammation, and the body essentially is in a constant state of war. Without being able to repair itself, the gut continues to decline, and our health with it. That is the simplest way to describe what is going on. Gut issues then translate into thyroid issues, autoimmune issues, our ability to fight disease also decreases making us susceptible to innumerable aftereffects. How these manifest themselves depend on the person, but it is never good.
In our culture, we are used to “quick fixes”. Instant microwave meals, fast food, text messages, knowledge at our fingertips. We want to pop a pill and be cured. However when it comes to our bodies (and our minds), we didn’t get there in a day, and we certainly won’t recover in a day. But, there Are things that you can do TODAY to improve your health, heal your gut and totally get rid of that brain fog. It is hard. It is counter cultural. It is a total lifestyle change. But what you eat either heals or harms your body. There is no in-between. For now, I will list two things that you can change right now that will begin to improve your health.
- Eliminate High Fructose Corn Syrup. This toxic ingredient is found in almost everything, and it is wrecking havoc on our country’s people both young and old. It causes weight gain, cancer, fatty liver and liver stress, increases cholesterol levels, has been linked to diabetes and high blood pressure. You’ll be more at risk of heart disease, leaky gut syndrome and increased mercury intake.
- Stay away from Canola and vegetable oils, and use oils rich in omega-3 like olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, grass-fed butter etc. Canola oil especially causes kidney and liver problems, life-threatening heart trouble, hypertension and strokes, may hinder normal growth, and increases intake of unhealthy fats. Additionally it has many other gmo side effects including toxicity, allergic reactions, immune-suppression, cancer, loss of nutrition and more. In addition, the good oils will help the gut to heal and causes your entire system (including your brain) to be able to function easier.
After implementing these and other food and lifestyle changes, my best friend has seen improvement in his anxiety and depression. He still takes antidepressants, but is now on the lowest dose. Eventually he hopes to be able to heal his body and brain to where he will no longer need them. The progress has been slower than he had hoped, but the results have been undeniable.
Now we both want to spread this message to those who have been suffering in the same way. You are not without hope! You are not stuck in the place you now find yourself. Your body can repair. Your brain can begin the road to recovery. In the words of Dr. Axe, your food is your body’s medicine! Stop filling it with muck, and give it the tools and it will build and excel.