Peachy the Magazine Fall 2019 - Page 76

Vitamin D deficiency has become more common due to lack of sun exposure and microbiome disruption. Vitamin D, which is important for several crucial functions in the body and brain, promotes healthy brain cells and reduces inflammation related to memory and cognitive abilities. Low vitamin D also has been linked to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), depression associated with the darker months of the year. More severe defi- ciencies have been associated with depression and panic disorders. Thyroid Dysfunction Thyroid disorders, including hypothy- roidism and hyperthyroidism, may be associated with neuropsychiatric disor- ders including depression and anxiety, yet often individuals go unscreened. Treatment of a thyroid disorder can result in improvement or resolution of associated depression and anxiety. Gut Disruption and Inflammation Hippocrates, the third century father of medicine, said, “All disease begins in the gut.” Several studies have linked gut dysfunction and inflammatory conditions with the brain. The vagus 74 PEACHYTHEMAGAZINE.COM nerve, which connects the brain and the gut, is the longest-running nerve. The gut/brain link is evident when we experience distress felt as stomach upset or butterflies. Inflammation in the gut can also trigger such reac- tions in the brain. Gut inflammation is caused by infections, highly processed foods, allergenic foods, sugars, and additives. Higher levels of inflamma- tory markers are associated with more severe depression and anxiety. Some conditions, like celiac disease, often present as psychiatric disorders first. Our microbiome—the trillions of bacteria that reside in our gut—is essential for healthy brain function. Certain bacteria types may be associ- ated with anxiety and depression. Researchers in the Netherlands found that certain strains were deficient or absent in depressed patients. These bacteria are believed to be involved in the pathway to produce dopamine, our “feel-good” neurotransmitter. Probiotics have demonstrated anti- depressant effects in clinical research studies. Fecal Microbiota Trans- plant (FMT) is a procedure where a healthy donor’s fecal microbiota is transferred to an unhealthy recipient. FMT has been used to treat severe