Inflammation, The Microbiome, and Mental Health: Regulating Mental Health through Diet

Inflammation has been linked to psychiatric disorders such as major depressive disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder. Discover the link between inflammation, your gut, and your mental health by reading this post. It ends with an anti-inflammation diet that helps regulate inflammation, therefore, improving your mental health. *Note: This is brand new research coming out, all scientific articles referenced are from 2017 and on.
Inflammation, The Microbiome, and Mental Health: Regulating Mental Health through Diet
8 min read

*Note: This is brand new research coming out, all scientific articles referenced are from 2017 and on.

Inflammation has been linked to psychiatric disorders such as major depressive disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder.

“Accumulating data indicate that inflammation may play a role in a host of psychiatric illnesses.” (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5542670/)

“Elevations in markers of inflammation (for example, cytokines, C-reactive protein), and overwhelm of the normal antioxidant defense system, are no longer dismissed as mere consequence in emotional disorders. The burden of oxidative stress and inflammation is emerging as a vicious cycle that can directly influence mood, and the combination of the two appears to be both a cause and a consequence of depression. When levels of body-wide inflammatory cytokines are elevated, they can subsequently signal the production of inflammatory cytokines within the central nervous system via microglia activation. Chronic activation of microglia can compromise neuronal functioning by setting in motion a cascade of further inflammation and oxidative stress. The end result may manifest as compromised intra and extracellular neuronal communication.” (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3904694/)

In reference to the disorder I live with, bipolar disorder, the microglia plays an important role. “One theory suggests that in BD the immune system is chronically activated by microglia, which in turn produces cytokines that render the brain to a vulnerable and unstable state, precipitating mood disturbances.” (https://www.researchgate.net/)

The condition of your gut microbiome, the vast population of organisms that live in your body and outnumber your own cells ten to one, determines whether or not your body is helping inflammation occur or relieving it.

What is inflammation and the Gut/Brain Connection?

“We are all familiar with inflammation. The word itself comes from the Latin verb inflammare, which means ‘to kindle’ or ‘to set on fire.’ Inflamed flesh is burning up— and not in a good way. An inflammatory cascade might include the redness, heat, and swelling that accompanies an insect bite or the pain you experience with a sore throat or sprained ankle. We generally accept the notion that a bite or scrape to the skin is going to be painful because of inflammation. But inflammation is involved in far more disease processes than you can possibly imagine. Indeed, it is the crux of the body’s healing response, bringing more immune activity to a place of injury or infection. But when inflammation persists or serves no purpose, deep inside the body and through systemic pathways, it causes illness. In fact, it’s implicated in such diverse conditions as obesity, diabetes, cancer, depression, autism, asthma, arthritis, coronary artery disease, multiple sclerosis, and even Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.” Perlmutter, David. Brain Maker: The Power of Gut Microbes to Heal and Protect Your Brain –for Life (Kindle Locations 665-672). Little, Brown and Company. Kindle Edition.

“Schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are serious neuropsychiatric disorders of uncertain etiology. Recent studies indicate that immune activation may contribute to the etiopathogenesis of these disorders. Numerous studies in animal models indicate that the mucosal microbiome may influence cognition and behavior by altering the functioning of the immune system. It is thus likely that the microbiome plays a role in human psychiatric disorders. The study of immune alterations and the microbiome in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder is in its infancy. Two recent investigations of the oro-pharyngeal microbiota in schizophrenia found differences between cases and controls. Other studies have found increased gastrointestinal inflammation in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder based on measures of microbial translocation.” (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5503102/)

Your immune system controls inflammation. The gut microbiome helps regulate/manage the immune response.

“The neurons in the gut are so innumerable that many scientists are now calling the totality of them ‘the second brain.’ Not only is this second brain regulating muscles, immune cells, and hormones, but it’s also manufacturing something really important. Popular antidepressants like Paxil, Zoloft, and Lexapro increase the availability of the ‘feel-good’ chemical serotonin in the brain. You may be surprised to find out that an estimated 80 to 90 percent of the amount of serotonin in your body is manufactured by the nerve cells in your gut! In fact, your gut’s brain makes more serotonin— the master happiness molecule— than the brain in your head does. Many neurologists and psychiatrists are now realizing that this may be one reason why antidepressants are often less effective in treating depression than dietary changes are. In fact, recent research is revealing that our second brain may not be “second” at all. It can act independently from the main brain and control many functions without the brain’s input or help.” Perlmutter, David. Brain Maker: The Power of Gut Microbes to Heal and Protect Your Brain –for Life (Kindle Locations 382-390). Little, Brown and Company. Kindle Edition.

No pharmaceutical approach can come close to a dietary prescription for managing your intestinal bacteria.

I can tell you that I started feeling vastly better after changing my diet to anti-inflammation one (I list the diet near the end of this article). I live with bipolar disorder and after just a week into my diet my mind has become clearer, I’m able to focus easier and longer with greater concentration, and my energy level has increased while remaining relatively consistent throughout the whole day. I haven’t had the need for any caffeine as well, I’ve been caffeine free during this time as well. The changes to my sleep have been astonishing as well. Ever since I’ve been diagnosed, my sleep has been all over the place – never consistent. Now, I fall asleep immediately around 10pm and wake around 6am consistently every day.

In addition to the diet, I started 13-hour Circadian Rhythm fasting which has also been known to reduce inflammation.

“The circadian clock, he found, even mediates the immune system. Mice with a crucial circadian molecule missing had higher levels of inflammation in their bodies than other mice, suggesting that genes and molecules involved in the circadian clock could be drug targets for conditions linked to inflammation…” (https://www.salk.edu/scientist/satchidananda-panda/)

I use the Zero App (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/zero-fasting-tracker/id1168348542?mt=8) to keep track of my fasting cycles.

Anti-Inflammation Diet

Do Eat (Organic only):

*Why organic? Because of glyphosate and other toxic chemicals found in conventionally grown food that uses Roundup. “Roundup and Glyphogan are glyphosate-based herbicides containing the same concentration of glyphosate and confidential formulants. Formulants are declared as inert diluents but some are more toxic than glyphosate, such as the family of polyethoxylated alkylamines (POEA). We tested glyphosate alone, glyphosate-based herbicide formulations and POEA on the immature mouse Sertoli cell line (TM4), at concentrations ranging from environmental to agricultural-use levels. Our results show that formulations of glyphosate-based herbicides induce TM4 mitochondrial dysfunction (like glyphosate, but to a lesser extent), disruption of cell detoxification systems, lipid droplet accumulation and mortality at sub-agricultural doses. Formulants, especially those present in Glyphogan, are more deleterious than glyphosate and thus should be considered as active principles of these pesticides. Lipid droplet accumulation after acute exposure to POEA suggests the rapid penetration and accumulation of formulants, leading to mortality after 24 h. As Sertoli cells are essential for testicular development and normal onset of spermatogenesis, disturbance of their function by glyphosate-based herbicides could contribute to disruption of reproductive function demonstrated in mammals exposed to these pesticides at a prepubertal stage of development.” – Formulants of glyphosate-based herbicides have more deleterious impact than glyphosate on TM4 Sertoli cells.

  • Dark Leafy Greens
    • Collard greens
    • Mixed lettuces
    • Mustard greens
    • Spinach
    • Swiss chard
  • Root Vegetables
    • Beets
    • Carrots
    • Celery root
    • Parsnips
    • Squash: butternut, Hubbard, kabocha, pumpkin, spaghetti, zucchini
    • Sweet potatoes
    • Yams
  • Alliums
    • Garlic
    • Onions
    • Scallions
    • Shallots
  • Cruciferous Vegetables
    • Arugula
    • Bok choy
    • Broccoli
    • Brussels sprouts
    • Cabbage
    • Cauliflower
    • Kale
    • Radishes
  • Fruit
    • Apples
    • Bananas
    • Blackberries
    • Blueberries
    • Cherries
    • Lemons
    • Limes
    • Pineapple
    • Raspberries
    • Stone fruits
    • Strawberries
  • Nuts and Seeds
    • Almonds
    • Brazil nuts
    • Cashews
    • Hazelnuts
    • Pistachios
    • Seeds: chia, flax, hemp, pumpkin, sesame
    • Walnuts
  • Beans and Legumes
    • Beans: black, cannellini, garbanzo (chickpeas), kidney, navy
    • Lentils
    • Split peas
  • Grains (Keep to minimum, especially if you want to eat in a Ketogenic way)
    • Buckwheat
    • Millet
    • Quinoa
    • Rice: brown, white, wild
    • Teff
    • Sprouted flours like spelt
  • Herbs and Spices
    • Basil
    • Cinnamon
    • Cloves
    • Cumin
    • Dill
    • Fennel
    • Ginger
    • Oregano
    • Rosemary
    • Sage
    • Turmeric
  • Animal Products
    • Anchovies
    • Beef, grass-fed
    • Bone broth
    • Chicken, pasture-raised
    • Halibut
    • Lamb
    • Salmon
    • Shrimp
    • Trout
    • Tuna
    • Turkey
  • Fats and Oils
    • Ghee, pastured
    • Oil: coconut, olive (extra-virgin)
  • Sweeteners (If you can, better to avoid any sweeteners all-together, I don’t have use any of these personally)
    • Coconut sugar
    • Honey, raw
    • Medjool dates and date paste
    • Molasses
    • Stevia leaf and extract
    • Syrup: brown rice, maple (100% pure)

Avoid:

  • Fats and Oils
    • Margarine
    • Oils: canola, corn, peanut, rapeseed, soybean, vegetable
    • Trans fats (often called hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils on the ingredients label)
  • Nuts and Seeds
    • Peanuts
  • Grains
    • Corn, genetically modified (i.e., not organic per the USDA’s National Organic Standards, or verified non-GMO by a third-party organization like the Non-GMO Project)
    • Refined wheat flours
    • Wheat and other gluten-containing grains: barley, bulgur, farro
    • Wheat pastas
  • Unfermented Soy Products
    • Soy: beans, milk, protein, sauce
    • Vegetable protein, textured
  • Citrus Fruits (in excess)
    • All
  • Nightshade Vegetables (if sensitive to them)
    • Eggplant
    • Peppers
    • Potatoes, white
    • Tomatoes
  • Feedlot Meat and Animal Products
    • Dairy products, processed
    • Eggs, factory-farmed
  • Sweeteners
    • Agave nectar
    • Sugar: brown or white, refined
    • Syrup: corn, high fructose corn syrup

I would like to add that since finding this diet in the book, Healing Depression & Bipolar Disorder Without Drugs: Inspiring Stories of Restoring Mental Health Through Natural Therapies, that I’ve also discovered a couple other things to add to the diet.

I drink Gerolsteiner Sparkling Natural Mineral Water which is loaded with minerals such as Calcium, Magnesium, Bicarbonate, Sodium, Chloride, Potassium, Sulfate, and others. In my research, I discovered how beneficial minerals can be for your mental health.

I also cook with Ghee butter or Coconut Oil only.

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