The Brain, Depression And The Paleo Diet
We have all experienced the dizzying effects of a ‘comfort food’ at some point in our lives– whether it’s been a sugary jam doughnut or a big plate of processed carbohydrates, like pasta. We have all also felt how these foods can trigger irritability and a sugar low after the initial ‘comforting’ effects wear off.
Therefore, we have all experienced the undeniable link between food and mood. It will come as no surprise then that scientists are progressively discovering more evidence to prove that a healthy digestive system is essential for good mental health.
The Gut is a ‘second brain’
Recent studies have uncovered that the gut has several million neurons embedded its lining, which act as a sort of second brain. These neurons regulate digestive processes and have extensive communication with your brain.
As scientists learn more about this communication, which takes place along a connection called the Vagus nerve, they are learning a great deal about how the gut affects mood and even developing new types of treatment for depression. One such treatment involves stimulating the Vagus nerve, in effect mimicking the effect of a well-functioning gut. So with this in mind it’s clear to see if you’re looking to alleviate the symptoms of depression, you’ll need to pay some close attention to your diet.
Eat Paleo for a healthy system
There are two key ways that the Paleo Diet, along with a healthy lifestyle, can benefit you:
- By reducing inflammation and thus preventing damage of tissue (Inflammation is one of the leading causes of depression).
- By providing all of the positive bacteria and micronutrients that your brain needs in order to function at its best.
Inflammation is the body’s natural response to injury – and the way that harmful foods effect your body is no different to the way getting a splinter will cause inflammation in your finger. If you get a splinter though, the inflammation will only be short term. Once removed the body will begin repair and after a little time will have made a complete recovery. With your gut, on the other hand, often the foods causing the inflammation will be regular features in your diet – therefore constantly causing this inflammation and giving your body little or no time to recover. The result is an unhealthy digestive system that is not resilient against infection and disease. The effects on your mental health are also clear – if you have an unhealthy, inflamed gut your mood is going to be low, irritable and depressive.
The guilty culprits – cut them out!
Common foods for causing this inflammation will often contain high levels of gluten and lectins. These are foods such as wheat, rye, spelt, barley, oats, quinoa, corn, lentils, kidney beans and peanuts (not actually a nut!)
If you imagine these foods as acting like a continuous splinter on your digestive system it will not take you long to realise that to take away their nasty effects you’ll need to cut them out altogether.
Researchers are discovering new research all the time to learn more about the link between the brain and the gut, which is great news for those who are looking for alternative ways to keep their health at optimum levels or for those wishing to alleviate the symptoms of their depression. So if this is you, trace it back to the cause and treat your depression with a healthy gut.
If you’re unsure about giving the Paleo diet a go, why not try it for 30 days? There’s really no harm in trying it – and you could get some really positive results.