To be honest, I think living life takes guts. I really do. Especially for anyone who suffers from anything chronic, which according to the CDC is about half of all adult Americans (1). This can be especially true for those of us with invisible health conditions- such as lupus, fibromyalgia, depression, thyroid issues…. as so often the results/ symptoms of those conditions are attributed to “laziness”. That makes it doubly hard for those suffering such conditions to feel like they can do what they need to do to take care of themselves.
I know that I have been the recipient of such attitudes. Attitudes where people- family even- have quipped that they “don’t want to be one of THOSE people” when asked about not seeing a doctor or taking medication for mental health issues— forgetting that I DO take medication for mental health issues— that I AM one of THOSE people that their tone so clearly disdained.
(But then they say they didn’t mean any offense by it…. I’m sorry, do I sound bitter about that? Well, I am. It’s frustrating to feel OTHERED, for ANY reason. I know some of you get what I am saying.)
Living with depression and anxiety for all of my adult life has lead me to seek a multitude of ways of dealing with it, as well as an understanding of the condition and the factors that contribute to it.
A major factor that is believed to contribute to depression and other mood disorders is serotonin delivery.
Serotonin deliver is interesting. In it’s most simplistic explanation- 80% to 95% of our serotonin starts in the gut, then it gets passed into the blood and from there it gets passed to the brain. (The number seems to vary regarding the percent of serotonin manufactured in the Gut, though a 2012 article published on the APA’s website puts it at 95% (2).)
Which leads to question number 1– what, exactly is the “gut”? Biology Online defines it as (3):
noun, plural: guts
(1) The portions of the alimentary canal, particularly the stomach and the intestines (sometimes including the anus, especially in animals that eliminate wastes through the anus, in contrast to other animals that excrete waste through the mouth or by other means)
Any of the first 5 or so definitions could be applied to the serotonin delivery model, though I think the generally accepted definition of “gut” is stomach and intestines.
So, I printed off a handy little coloring page from Crayola.com (there are some amazing pages there if you have kids! Like, seriously, check it out!) (4), and I colored it to give a really simple map of how this works:
I think it’s pretty self-explanatory, but just in case, the brown organ at the top, in the head is the brain. The pinkish-red organ in the middle is the heart, and the yellow organ with the orange squiggles under it is the “gut”. The heart is there to represent the blood conduit, and the blue arrows represent how the serotonin must move from the gut, to the blood, the brain.
There is some more science about neurons and transmitters that are needed to conduct this transfer between the gut, blood and brain. Typically this is referred to as the “Blood/ Brain Barrier”. It’s a little more technical than I am equipped to get into, to be honest.
The relationship between the Gut and the Brain and how Serotonin gets between them is why doctors will often prescribe SSRIs to depression patients. SSRIs area type of antidepressant that is called a Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor. They are designed to use these neuron transfer processes to increase the amount of serotonin available to the brain (5).
Again, there is more technical science behind all of this, and frankly, I am not the person to get into all of that for you- but if you want to know more, all of my sources are noted below, and those sources have sources also.
Why am I going through all of this? Because depression is a complex disease, but by understanding the things that can influence it, we can take measures to manage it that go beyond just a visit to the doctor. (Keep in mind, as always, that I still go to my doctor, I still take medicine, I always will, I am OK with that. I think it is perfectly OK to take medicine, and that it is important for your doctor to be involved in managing depression! I want to make sure that no one ever misunderstands that!).
When it comes to serotonin delivery, we can manage this via medication as noted above and by making sure that we have a healthy gut and digestive system.
How do we make sure that we have a healthy guy and digestive system?
- We eat healthy foods- lots of fruits and vegetables with small complimentary amounts of meat and carbs.
- We limit simple sugar intake- less candy and soda
- We drink lots of water- this helps make sure that things are flushing out
- Get plenty of sleep at night- so that the gut can do what it needs to do to heal any damage done during the day
- Take a good Probiotic. Plexus offers the Pro-Bio5, and I love it!
Those are things anyone can do. There are other Probiotics out there other than plexus, though I find that the other probiotics I have run into do not have the same strains, nor are they formulated with the necessary flora for the bacteria to survive.
Another great thing to do for your gut health is add Plexus Slim to your daily routine. If you are taking an antidepressant, please talk to your doctor first prior to doing this. Slim contains Garcinia Cambogia, and there is some evidence this can increase serotonin levels (6). If you are on a high dose of antidepressant, an increase in serotonin levels could result in serotonin poisoning which is very dangerous and deadly (7).
I know that since I have started Slim and Pro-bio5, my moods are even more balanced than they were with my antidepressant (which in the interest of full disclosure- my doctor and I have spoken about changing, as it does OK, but there may be something that does better…. ) We certainly know if I run out and forgot to reorder, even if it’s just of one product, so the probiotic. Which you wouldn’t think would have such a big impact. But, as studies are starting to show, your gut health impacts a lot.
If you are struggling with depression, then don’t discount your gut health- with or without plexus, it’s important! Plexus is one tool out there that can help. If you have questions about it, feel free to let me know!
Love to all!
**I am a plexus ambassador. If you purchase a plexus product from me I receive a commission. All opinions and results are from my own experience. All other links are provided for your reference and I receive no compensation from those sites.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.*