Depression: Its Causes and Cures, part 2: The Gut-Brain Connection

Tony Pics for SA BookIn part 1 of this series on depression, we had a look at blood sugar imbalance as a cause of one kind of depression. In this post we could have a look at the gut-brain connection to find another possible cause, as all diseases seem to start in the gut.  I will kick this consideration off with a short video clip by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, MD, author or Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS), on the importance of a healthy gut flora. Here’s a link to a website on the gut-brain connection. http://www.depressionanxietydiet.com/gut-brain-connection-depression-anxiety/ Dr. Campbell-McBride makes a good case for why there is so much mental illness and depression in increasingly more and more people.  Diet and nutrition obviously play major roles in mental health issues.

There’s a great article in Scientific America, which I will excerpt here just enough to entice you to read the entire article.  I highly recommend this article to my blog followers and visitors. 

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

The emerging and surprising view of how the enteric nervous system in our bellies goes far beyond just processing the food we eat.
olympic butterflies gut second brain
ISTOCKPHOTO/ERAXION 

As Olympians go for the gold in Vancouver, eventhe steeliest are likely to experience that familiar feeling of “butterflies” in the stomach. Underlying this sensation is an often-overlooked network of neurons lining our guts that is so extensive some scientists have nicknamed it our “second brain”. A deeper understanding of this mass of neural tissue, filled with important neurotransmitters, is revealing that it does much more than merely handle digestion or inflict the occasional nervous pang. The little brain in our innards, in connection with the big one in our skulls, partly determines our mental state and plays key roles in certain diseases throughout the body. . . .

 “The second brain doesn’t help with the great thought processes…religion, philosophy and poetry is left to the brain in the head,” says Michael Gershon, chairman of the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology at New York–Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, an expert in the nascent field of neurogastroenterology and author of the 1998 book The Second Brain(HarperCollins). . . . 

The second brain informs our state of mind in other more obscure ways, as well. “A big part of our emotions are probably influenced by the nerves in our gut,” Mayer says. Butterflies in the stomach—signaling in the gut as part of our physiological stress response, Gershon says—is but one example. Although gastrointestinal (GI) turmoil can sour one’s moods, everyday emotional well-being may rely on messages from the brain below to the brain above. For example, electrical stimulation of the vagus nerve—a useful treatment for depression—may mimic these signals, Gershon says. Given the two brains’ commonalities, other depression treatments that target the mind can unintentionally impact the gut.

The enteric nervous system uses more than 30 neurotransmitters, just like the brain, and in fact 95 percent of the body’s serotonin is found in the bowels. Because antidepressant medications called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) increase serotonin levels, it’s little wonder that meds meant to cause chemical changes in the mind often provoke GI issues as a side effect. Irritable bowel syndrome—which afflicts more than two million Americans—also arises in part from too much serotonin in our entrails, and could perhaps be regarded as a “mental illness” of the second brain.

Scientists are learning that the serotonin made by the enteric nervous system might also play a role in more surprising diseases: In a new Nature Medicine study published online February 7, a drug that inhibited the release of serotonin from the gut counteracted the bone-deteriorating disease osteoporosis in postmenopausal rodents. (Scientific American is part of Nature Publishing Group.) “It was totally unexpected that the gut would regulate bone mass to the extent that one could use this regulation to cure—at least in rodents—osteoporosis,” says Gerard Karsenty, lead author of the study and chair of the Department of Genetics and Development at Columbia University Medical Center.

Serotonin seeping from the second brain might even play some part in autism, the developmental disorder often first noticed in early childhood. Gershon has discovered that the same genes involved in synapse formation between neurons in the brain are involved in the alimentary synapse formation. “If these genes are affected in autism,” he says, “it could explain why so many kids with autism have GI motor abnormalities” in addition to elevated levels of gut-produced serotonin in their blood.

This may give us a new appreciation and meaningful insight into the adage “Listen to your gut feeling.” This article leaves little doubt about the importance of a healthy gut flora.  There are numerous health products out there to help clean up your alimentary canal and keep it well supplied with friendly bacteria.  Fasting is one way to give the gut a reprieve from its primary duty of digesting the seventy tons of food we pass through it over an average lifespan.  

Dr. Depak Chopra recommends a one-day fast every week to foster the production of growth hormones and thereby add years to one’s life.  I haven’t personally heeded his advice, but I have fasted for as much as seven days, and I can attest to the incredible impact fasting has on one’s mental and visual acuity and function.

Fasting is safer under the supervision of a health practitioner or physician and should not be done without proper preparation and professional guidance.   I’m not going to spend time here on all the ways to help keep a healthy intestinal tract.  That is readily available on the web and in health related books.  I will only tout and highly recommend the 21-day total body cleanse put out by Standard Process Labs in their Purification Kit at a moderate cost of $250. That I make my readers aware of the gut-brain connection in mental health and illness issues, such as depression, is sufficient for this post. Until my next post in this series,

Here’s to your mental health and healing,

Anthony Palombo, DC

Visit my second blog at HealingTones.org for inspired writing on the spiritual and energetic aspects of health and life.  

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Food Our Medicine — Medicine Our Food

As to diseases, make a habit of two things — to help, or at least, to do no harm.

As to diseases, make a habit of two things — to help, or at least, to do no harm.

Greek Physician, Scientist and the Father of Medicine wrote these profound words of wisdom that really were meant to steer medicine in a more natural direction. 

Everyone has a doctor in him or her; we just have to help it in its work. The natural healing force within each one of us is the greatest force in getting well. Our food should be our medicine. Our medicine should be our food. But to eat when you are sick, is to feed your sickness.  — Hippocrates (460 BC – 377 BC)

I lifted the following article with picture from a post by Veganism on Face Book.  Lots of good information here. Enjoy!

Food as MedicineFood is medicine and organic fruits and vegetables take center stage in achieving ultimate health and longevity. Morally and ethically, what is on the end of your fork clearly defines your approach to compassion, your environment, your health and well being. The following foods are valuable in sustaining your health, embracing life and avoiding surgeries, prescription drugs and the inevitable .

BLUEBERRIES POWERFUL ANTIOXIDANTS

The dye that is released from the blueberries’ skin may well be the most valuable nutrient the fruit has to offer. The pigments in blueberries and also in red crops such as cherries, plums, and red cabbage are powerful antioxidants. They have been determined to be a much-heralded chemical warrior against heart disease and also cancer. Blueberries actually have the highest antioxidant capacity because of their large anthocyanin concentration.

Antioxidants in our food can save us from virtually everything. Most of our health misfortunes are due to the perversity of oxygen. Our cells are perpetually besieged by toxic forms of oxygen which have been proved to have fierce destructive powers. So far scientists have linked destructive oxygen reactions to at least sixty different chronic diseases, as well as to aging itself. Oxygen free radicals can attack DNA, the genetic material of cells, causing them to mutate, which is a step on the path to cancer.

RED CABBAGE A POWERFUL DETOX FOOD

Red cabbage is a good source of phytonutrients that help to detoxify pollutants and other carcinogens that most people are exposed to on a daily basis. Like other cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, it’s high in glucosinolates, compounds which are metabolized by the body to form powerful cancer fighting chemicals known as isothiocyanates. Isothiocyanates activate the liver enzymes that break down carcinogens, allowing them to be safely eliminated from the body. People who consume high quantities of cruciferous vegetables have been shown to have a lower risk of certain types of cancer. Red cabbage is also a good source of indoles, compounds that may reduce the risk of breast cancer by altering estrogen metabolism.

RED BEETS HAVE ANTI-CARCINOGENS

Red Beet is unique for its high levels of anti-carcinogens and its very high carotenoid content. Red beets are high in carbohydrates and low in fat and it is an excellent source of folic acid. It is loaded with antioxidant that helps the body against heart disease, certain cancer especially colon cancer and even birth defects. Betacyanin is the pigment that gives beets their red color; this pigment is absorbed into the blood corpuscles and can increase the oxygen-carrying ability of the blood by up to 400 per cent. Don’t throw away the green leafy tops as they can be cooked like spinach and are also rich in beta-carotene, folic acid, chlorophyll, potassium, vitamin C, and iron.

BEET ROOT FOR LEUKEMIA

Beet root is a traditional treatment used for leukemia. Beet root contain an amino acid betaine which has an anti cancer properties. Red beet therapy, consisting of consumption of approximately two pounds of raw, mashed beets daily, has been favorably reported for cases of leukemia and tumors (includes cancer). Research also shows that beet juice can help inhibit the development of colon and stomach cancer. It is believed that red beets when eaten regularly may help against certain oxidative stress-related disorders. The fiber in red beets helps reduce serum cholesterol by 30 to 40%.Beets can help in normalizing blood pressure.

BEETS FOR HEALTHY ARTERIES AND VEINS

Beets helps to keep the elasticity of arteries, when consumed regularly it can help prevent varicose veins. The iron content of red beets, though not high but is of the finest quality that makes it a powerful cleanser and builder of blood. This is the reason why beets is very effective in treating many ailments caused by toxic environment and surrounding.

BEETS HAVE FOLIC ACID NEEDED IN PREGNANCY

Beet root is recommended for pregnant women because it contains folic acid that can help lower the risk of spinabifida and other neural tube defects in newborn infants.Beet juice helps stimulate the function of liver cells and protect the liver and bile ducts. Beet juice is highly alkaline which makes it effective in the treatment of acidosis. Drinking beets regularly can help relieve constipation. Beet juice and carrot juice when combined is excellent in the healing gout, kidney and gall bladder problem. You can tell that I love beets, I eat and juice at least six beets and the tops everyday religiously. One of my nicknames at the health food store that I frequent is “beet-man.”

CRUCIFEROUS VEGETABLES DETOXIFY THE LIVER

Vegetables that are members of the cruciferous, or cabbage, family not only contain fiber and many vitamins and minerals (including antioxidants) that promote optimal health, they also contain sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol. These phytonutrients have been shown to stimulate enzymes in the body that help the liver remove carcinogens (and other toxic chemicals) and deactivate a powerful estrogen metabolite that promotes tumor growth.

STOP TUMOR GROWTH IN THE BREAST — ANTI-CANCER FOOD

According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, various components in cruciferous vegetables have been shown to stop tumor growth in the breast, uterine lining, cervix, colon, lung, and liver and according to studies monitoring diets, eating calciferous vegetables can lower ones risk of getting prostate cancer. Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, mustard greens, radishes and mustard greens.

KALE FOR THE EYES

Kale is absolutely rich and abundant in calcium, lutein, iron, and Vitamins A, C, and K. Kale has seven times the beta-carotene of broccoli and ten times more lutein. Kale is rich in Vitamin C not to mention the much needed fiber so lacking in the daily diet of processed food eating Americans. The “Icing on the Kale” are the naturally occurring all important phytochemicals sulforaphane and indoles which research suggests may protect against cancer. Let’s not forget the all important antioxidant Vitamin E. Rest assured kale spares nothing in providing one with much needed nutrients and associated health benefits. The naturally rich sulfur content of kale deserves a bit more discussion.

Science has discovered that sulforaphane, helps boost the body’s detoxification enzymes, possibly by altering gene expression. This is turn is purported to help clear carcinogenic substances in a timely manner. Sulforaphane is formed when cruciferous vegetables like kale are chopped or chewed. This somehow triggers the liver to produce enzymes that detoxify cancer causing chemicals, of which we all are exposed on daily basis. A recently new study in the Journal of Nutrition (2004) demonstrates that sulforaphane helps stop breast cancer cell proliferation.

BEANS ARE COMPLEX CARBOHYDRATES

Beans are an often-overlooked source of incredible health benefits. – They have a lot of carbs, leading people to believe they should be avoided and seen as a weight gain risk only. Nothing could be farther from the truth though, as research has shown that the carbohydrates found in most beans are of the complex variety.

Complex carbohydrates are not contributors to any sort of weight gain, instead providing the brain and muscles with a lot of good, stable energy supplies. Beans actually contain a wider variety of healthy nutrients than most foods. These include calcium, potassium, vitamin B6, magnesium, folate, and alpha-linolenic acid. These nutrients work together on several key areas of the body promoting total health.

SOURCE OF COMPLETE PROTEINS

Beans also happen to be good sources of complete proteins, which is rare in plants. Plants, while having many different nutrients, often lack complete proteins of any kind. This is unfortunate, as protein is a vital ingredient to the healthy and normal functioning of the human body, and the most readily available sources of protein have negative effects on the heart. Beans, however, are plentiful in protein. Most of the commotion that beans are generating in the scientific community has to do with the fact that they are showing to provide protection from many of the most feared and lethal diseases plaguing Americans today.

Studies done in universities have shown that eating beans on a regular basis reduces a person’s risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and obesity. Sometimes the reduction in risk is substantial. The risk for heart disease, for example, may be reduced by as much as 22%. Beans help to curb hunger, and offer the body valuable sources of ready energy that it can burn quickly and effectively. Because of this, beans boost energy levels, and as a result, promote weight loss.

POWERFUL LITTLE FOOD

Beans are powerful little foods that have been ignored for far too long. Associated with Carbohydrates and gas, current studies have done a wonderful job of increasing our understanding of this plentiful food and revealed it to be packed with important nutrition. The benefits that can be attained from eating beans are as varied as all of the nutrients they contain, but what is important is that many of these benefits help to protect people from some of the most feared illnesses of our times. i eat beans regularly, both sprouted and cooked. I only buy organic beans in bulk and the ones that I fine the most nutritional is adzuki, mung and garbanzo.

WHOLE GRAINS PROVIDE UNIQUE ANTIOXIDANTS

Whole grains offer vitamins and minerals, plus high levels of antioxidants and other healthy plant-based nutrients. Whole grains contain protective antioxidants in amounts near or exceeding those in fruits and vegetables. They also provide some unique antioxidants not found in other foods. Studies have shown that eating more whole grains may help reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes. New studies show that whole grains may lower triglycerides, improve insulin control, help in weight management, and slow the build-up of arterial plaque. Optimal whole grains are hulled barley, wheat berries, buckwheat, rye, spelt, quinoa, black rice and brown rice. Quinoa and buckwheat are actually fruit seeds but look like grains so I call them grains. They are powerfully nutritional loaded with protein and calcium among lots of fiber and many other nutrients.

Tony picVisit my HealingTones.org blog for more interesting and extraordinary articles. This issue features: “The Shaman’s Gift of Healing.”

Here’s to your health and healing,

Anthony Palombo, DC, ACN

Picture of Hyppocrates by Shakko.

Violence and Brain Starvation

VIOLENT BEHAVIOR MAY WELL BE THE RESULT OF BRAIN STARVATION

Tony's picture 2 from PeggyThis is not “news.” I’ve been saying it for decades, as have countless nutritional researchers and clinicians the world over. Dr. Royal Lee, called the “Einstein of Nutrition” and the “Father of Holistic Nutrition,” proved it out a century ago. Oh, medical science is so slow in arriving at the truth; so full between its ears of its own mind-made intelligence and arrogance that it hasn’t been able to hear the truth. Read the article and learn the facts about the truth of the matter — that is if you don’t already know them. (My apologies to my already awake, aware and informed readers.)

Dr. Weston Price

Dr. Weston Price

Dr. Weston Price, like Dr. Royal Lee, was a dental physician who considered teeth but a reflection of total body health, being a part of the body itself. Dr. Lee’s approach was to feed the body nutrient rich foods and in that you heal the teeth. In his own words: 

Dr. Royal Lee

Dr. Royal Lee

One of the greatest tragedies of human civilization is the precedence of chemical therapy over nutrition. It’s the substitution of artificial therapy over natural, of poisons over food, in which we are feeding people poisons trying to correct the reactions of starvation. (click to hear his voice).

A contemporary colleague of Dr. Lee, Dr. Price spent his years researching, documenting an publishing scientific information on the impact of nutrition on health and disease. So, your brain is in good hands here. Enjoy this article from the Weston A. Price Foundation.

WASHINGTON, DC,, Aug. 30, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Deficiencies of vitamins A, D, K, B1, B3, B6, B12 and folate, and of minerals iodine, potassium, iron, magnesium, zinc, chromium and manganese can all contribute to mental instability and violent behavior, according to a report published in the Spring 2013 issue of Wise Traditions, the journal of the Weston A. Price Foundation.

The article, Violent Behavior: A Solution in Plain Sight by Sylvia Onusic, PhD, CNS, LDN, seeks reasons for the increase in violent behavior in America, especially among teenagers.

“We can blame violence on the media and on the breakdown of the home,” says Onusic, “but the fact is that a large number of Americans, living mostly on devitalized processed food, are suffering from malnutrition.  In many cases, this means their brains are starving.”

In fact, doctors are seeing a return of nutritional deficiency diseases such as scurvy and pellagra, which were declared eradicated long ago by public health officials.  Many of these conditions cause brain injuries as well.

Symptoms of pellagra, for example, include anxiety, hyperactivity, depression, fatigue, headache, insomnia and hallucinations. Pellagra is a disease caused by deficiency of vitamin B3.  Zinc deficiency is linked with angry, aggressive, and hostile behaviors that result in violence.  The best dietary sources of zinc are red meat and shellfish.

Leaky gut and gluten sensitivities may exacerbate nutrient deficiencies.  Gluten intolerance is strongly linked with schizophrenia.

Things have gotten even worse since Lee’s and Price’s day with all the chemicals we now have and are adding to our foods, such as MSG and Aspartame, to enhance flavor and attack obesity. Little wonder our guts are eroding and leaking undigested proteins into our blood streams, the underlying cause of food sensitivities and allergies. Read on.

“Making things worse are excitotoxins so prevalent in the food supply, such as MSG and Aspartame,” says Onusic.  “People who live on processed food and who drink diet sodas are exposed to these mind-altering chemicals at very high levels.” In an effort to curb child obesity, the dairy industry recently petitioned FDA to include aspartame and other artificial sweeteners in dairy beverages featured in school lunches, without appropriate labeling. Recent research has established the fact that aspartame actually leads to weight gain because of its effect on insulin.

Other ingredients in the food supply linked to violent behavior include sugar, artificial colors and flavorings, caffeine, alcohol and soy foods. The toxic environmental burden includes mercury, arsenic, lead, fire retardants, pesticides, heavy metals and Teflon.  Adding psychiatric drugs to this mix puts everyone at risk.

Whole foods is the only answer, and you won’t get what your body and brain need from synthetic, isolated vitamins in a “one-a-day” Centrum tablet, or gummy bears. Only from food-based nutritional therapy using whole-food supplements.

“The only solution to the mounting levels of violence is a return to real, nutrient-dense food,” says Sally Fallon Morell, president of the Weston A. Price Foundation. “We must create a culture in which eating processed food is seen as uncool, and in which home cooking is embraced as a life-enhancing skill.”

The Weston A. Price Foundation has pointed out the poor nutritional quality of school lunches and the flaws in the USDA dietary guidelines, which schools receiving federal funding are required to follow.  At a press conference in January, 2010, the Foundation proposed guidelines that include eggs, organ meats and healthy animal fats.  “Our brains need cholesterol to function properly,” said Fallon Morell, “and our children need cholesterol-rich food for optimal mental and emotional development.” Studies have shown that depressed individuals, offenders who show the most violent behavior, and the most violent suicides have low cholesterol levels.

That’s not surprising, as the brain is one big mass of cholesterol, the stuff cardiologists of today are trying to reduce in Americans with their Statin drugs. I say “Americans” because it’s only in America, where drug companies make Statin drugs, that cholesterol has become a “marker” in diagnosing coronary heart distease — and it became a marker just about the same time Statin drugs appeared on the market. Not only does medicine create drugs for diseases; it also invents diseases for its drugs! Wake up Americans!

If you want the premier hallmark wholefood supplement Dr. Royal Lee formulated and made available to the world called “CATALYN,” drop me an email and I’ll mail you a large bottle (360T for $45), postage included. That’s a 60-day supply if you’re deficient and a 120 days supply if you only need maintenance and insurance against malnutrition.

I welcome and love comments on my blog posts. My email address is tpal70@gmail.comUntil next post,

Here’s to your health and sanity,

Anthony Palombo, DC, ACN

The Weston A. Price Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nutrition education foundation with the mission of disseminating accurate, science-based information on diet and health. Named after nutrition pioneer Weston A. Price, DDS, author of Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, the Washington, DC-based Foundation publishes a quarterly journal for its 16,500 members, supports 574 local chapters worldwide and hosts a yearly international conference. The Foundation phone number is (202) 363-4394, westonaprice.org, info@westonaprice.org.

For further information: www.westonaprice.org/environmental-toxins/violent-behavior-a-solution-in-plain-sight

www.westonaprice.org/press/press-conference-critique-of-the-2010-dietary-guidelines

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