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Depression and Diet

Hi guys,

So it seems as though the whole gut-brain axis idea is catching on in the mainstream media as per an article in the Sydney Morning Herald yesterday (link below). People like Chris Kresser and numerous others have been stressing the importance of maintaining a healthy (non-leaky) gut to maintain good mental / cognitive health for a while and from a high level it makes a lot of sense:

Leaky gut -> toxins and other nasties from your gut into your bloodstream -> nasties cross the blood brain barrier -> impact on your cognitive function

The four hour blog (Tim Ferriss) has a blog post particularly about wheat and gluten impact on gut health that sums the issue up pretty nicely in the title "how to keep feces out of your bloodstream". Not a nice thought, but sums the whole process up pretty well. If you stuff up the filter between your digestive system and your blood stream then that is what happens!

You could make an argument (based on my limited understanding of the biochemistry ;) ) that the success of using ketogenic diets to treat aspergers (another cognitive disorder related to neurological inflammation) is due to both the mechanisms of increasing ketone bodies to fuel the brain, and indirectly through limiting the intake of gut inflammatory "foods" (wheat, other insoluble fibres...).

The SMH article is interesting because it discusses the effect of diet on brain health but it seriously falls over because it misses out on mentioning the role of leaky gut in the equation. Instead it looks only at the direct effects of different food types on cognitive function, and it is seriously remiss in recommending whole grains (!!!) as well as legumes as beneficial for the whole system. Sure eating whole foods is a step in the right direction (if you're coming from a low baseline) but there is some significant further optimisation to do to your diet beyond that. Also - don't cook with olive oil.

Anyway, if you aren't already a subscriber to suppversity then depending on how far along your journey you are (its pretty technical stuff!) you should at least check it out, and probably subscribe to it. There is a prolific volume of studies that get disseminated through that site!

Update - another study regarding this hypothesis http://medicalxpress.com/news/2012-10-uncovering-source-inflammatory-malaise.html

Links:

http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/diet-and-fitness/diet-may-help-beat-the-blues-20121110-294u3.html

https://www.facebook.com/SuppVersity/posts/275210285933001

http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/2010/09/19/paleo-diet-solution/

 


Leon Wurfel
Leon Wurfel

Author

Co-founder, OptimOZ.com.au