Monday, December 16, 2013

Depression and Digestive Health - They Are Tied More Closely Than You Think

Digestion problems can be a pain in more ways than one. Many people suffering from IBS, Crohn's disease, chronic constipation or colitis experience emotional distress that they assume is caused by physical discomfort. But science tells us that there is a close connection between the gut and the brain. This connection helps determine our mood as it bridges the gap between where the "feel good hormone" is produced and where it is employed. Therefore, irregular digestive patterns or even insufficient digestion can significantly affect the way we feel!

Serotonin is this "feel good hormone." And it is serotonin that chemically transfers messages to the brain, helping to determine our mood. Deficiency of this vital hormone can cause symptoms of depression. Particularly in the seasons of fall and winter, people commonly have a significantly lower level of serotonin.

During the day, serotonin stimulates our activity. As the evening approaches, our pineal gland sends messages to the brain to convert serotonin to melatonin-a hormone that induces sleepiness. Often times, those that suffer from serotonin deficiencies have higher melatonin levels, causing them to feel tired and depressed.

When serotonin levels are low, it means that the receptors in the brain are not functioning properly. This causes neuroendocrine imbalance, which arouses the symptoms of depression.  Furthermore, serotonin regulates the brain's impulse controller, to an extent. Those with lower serotonin levels are often times more frequently angry and aggressive. Other signs of low serotonin levels could be headaches or addictive and compulsive behavior.

Because serotonin is produced in the gut, it's important that we do everything we can to maximize and improve digestive health and thereby support mood. In order to do this, we need first to remember that our bodies are designed to be active. Consistent exercise helps your body regulate digestion.

Even if you don't feel athletic, find an activity that will raise your heart rate and challenge your muscles. The benefits of physical activity reach beyond just helping your digestive health.

Another way to get on top of your digestive problems is body cleansing. The byproducts of unhealthy or contaminated food pollute our bodies and can cause a build-up of toxins in the digestive tract. The objective of a body cleanse is to regulate digestion, free our organs of unwanted waste, and ultimately provide an optimum environment for serotonin production.

You may also want to try a digestive supplement that boosts serotonin production. Doing so can help your body receive the proper amount of the "feel good hormone"-so you can actually feel good. You may be surprised at your mood change when you either take serotonin-boosting supplements or regulate your digestion.

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