I had an entirely different subject I was writing on for this weeks’ post, until I heard the very sad news. I am sure by now, you’ve heard that we lost a great talent and some say, a genius. Robin Williams. I did not know Robin, but I know about the disease he suffered from: Depression.
This disease is, unfortunately, quite common and widespread in our society. It is still taboo in many circles to bring up and sadly, many just don’t talk about it and suffer in privacy. I am writing this very heartfelt message in case I can reach at least one person suffering from this illness.
Here’s what I do know about this illness. As one of my mentors, Dr. Mark Hyman states, “Depression is not a Prozac deficiency”. I know this sounds quite simplistic, but hear me out. As a clinical nutritionist I understand that most diseases in the body manifest from an imbalance in our bio-chemistry. It takes years of an imbalance to build up into an illness. Just like you don’t get diabetes overnight, you don’t get depression overnight. Sure, there are instances in life that are traumatic and downright unbearable. We use many tools to help us through these times in our lives; family and friends, faith, prayer and therapy to name a few. Why is it that some folks recover while others don’t? Could it be a difference in their biology? Could it be that a neurotransmitter imbalance in some can lead them down the path to depression?
What if we can think outside the common-answer-to-depression box, not just mask the illness with an anti-depressant but get to the root cause of the issue? What if the most effective treatment for depression is to rebalance the underlying systems in the body that are at the root of all health and illness? Finally, Consider this: There is not just one cause of depression, but many.
Below, I will discuss the most common causes – or imbalances – that can lead to depression.
Before we move on, please note: Please do not use the information I am sharing here as anything other than just for educational purposes. Please understand my sharing of this information with you does not automatically constitute a nutritionist - client relationship. Please do not stop any medication you are on, without first consulting with your health care practitioner / MD / Physician.
Common causes of depression and what to do about it:
Common food allergens: It seems so simple. A food allergy that can actually lead to depression. In some cases, it’s true. A low level and chronic food allergy can eventually lead to the malabsorption of nutrients. Let’s use celiac disease as an example. If you have an allergy to wheat, rye and barley (gluten containing grains), your small intestine lining is getting hammered. This will eventually prevent you from absorbing key nutrients from your food. Years of nutrient deficiencies can then lead to an imbalance in your brain and body. Without the proper nutrients, your body cannot make neurotransmitters in your brain (like serotonin) to keep you balanced and happy. If you would like to explore this further, perhaps consider an IgG food intolerance test. If you want to try this at home, try doing an elimination diet, removing the most common allergens and inflammatory foods, for at least 21 days. If you start to feel better, then you know you have a food intolerance.
Hypothyroidism: This unrecognized epidemic can be a cause of depression. Make sure to have a thorough thyroid exam if you are depressed. Hypothyroid slows down metabolic functions and also slows down brain function. If your thyroid exam comes back with a hypothyroid diagnosis, you know treating the thyroid is getting to the (or one of the) root cause of the depression.
Chronic Vitamin D deficiency: It is estimated that over 75% of adults and teens are deficient in Vitamin D. In addition, new science has shown the level used to identify Vitamin D deficiency is too low. Many doctors still consider blood level of 30 nanograms per milliliter or more of vitamin D, to be sufficient. Ideally, that level should be between 50 and 80 nanograms per milliliter. Get tested. It is a simple test you can ask for at your next physical. If you are not in the optimal range, start to supplement at least 1000 IU per day. Most can tolerate more.
Methylation and Sulfation pathways have broken down:
There are biochemical reactions in your body referred to as methylation and sulfation, critical for proper detoxification and proper biochemistry of the brain. Problems with methylation and sulfation are involved in all mental illness and neurological dysfunction especially depression, ADD, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. The good news is that these processes can be almost completely fixed through diet, detoxification, and special nutrient supplementations. You can start by simply taking these specific B Vitamins daily: Methylated B12, Folate (MTHF) and B6 (Pyridoxyl 5‐phosphate). There are many brands with these specific B Vitamins out there. Be sure to get the methylated
versions. Here’s one I like.
You can start by taking one per day. For the sulfation part, increase your daily intake of sulfur rich foods like broccoli, watercress, garlic, onions, and eggs.
Heavy metal toxicity - If you suspect you have been exposed to heavy metals and they could be the root cause of the issue, find a doctor who specializes in it and be tested for heavy metal toxicity. In the meantime, you can eat some of the foods already listed above, including more dark leafy greens, cilantro, dandelion, berries and green tea. These foods have detox properties.These are some of the root causes. There could be other root causes or a combination of some for each specific person. These are suggestions and guidance where you can start. Even healthy people will do well getting tested for deficiencies, supplementing vitamins and detoxing.Finally, the single biggest environment influence you can control is what you eat.
Food is not just calories, it is information. It tells our genes what to do.
Thank you for sticking with me this week as I cover a difficult and complicated topic. There is a lot more to be said about depression and treatment. Please do not take my short post as a simplistic approach to this issue. My hope is that this information can be used as a starting point and even guidance on different places to look for – other than antidepressants – for treating and hopefully eradicating depression. If you are reading this now and happen to be suffering with depression, please ask for help. You are never alone. Reach out. There are many people in this world that are more than happy to help you, including me.
A delicious and refreshingly different pesto recipe. It is rich in natural sulfur which helps your body's systems metabolize energy!
Amount Per Serving
Calories from Fat 114
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 3g
Monounsaturated Fat 4g
Total Carbohydrates 2g
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
- 1/2 cup walnuts
- 4 cups cilantro (1 bunch destemmed)
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- salt to taste
- parmesan cheese (optional)
- Add all the above to a food processor and process until the mixture reaches a paste consistency.
Tania Mercer http://taniamercer.com/
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