Depression and Inflammation

We know that inflammation is bad for us, Time magazine had a cover story about it. Some research has come to light that there is a link between depression and inflammation. This link is strong enough that some drug companies have begun to add anti-inflammatory drugs to depression medications with good results. Tim De Chant from NOVA says:

Inflammation is our immune system’s natural response to injuries, infections, or foreign compounds. When triggered, the body pumps various cells and proteins to the site through the blood stream, including cytokines, a class of proteins that facilitate intercellular communication. It also happens that people suffering from depression are loaded with cytokines.

What is the cause of this inflammation?
Researchers are not yet certain. Certainly our diets play a major role in the body’s inflammation response. Sadly, most of the foods that are mode for our convenience cause inflammation in the body and sugar is the number one culprit. If you look at packaged food, it all has sugar in it – bread, peanut butter, sauces, milks, yogurts, etc. Why? Because it tastes good. We are genetically hard wired to seek out sugar because it is an easy source of energy. BUT, refined sugar is new in the course of human development. What we are really seeking is the sugar in foods like fruits and vegetables that we can process and use.

What is the best way to reduce inflammation?
You may not know what is causing your inflammation, but you can begin to reduce some of the things in your life that cause this response. The first way to reduce inflammation is to eliminate all of the foods that cause inflammation:

  • Sugar
  • Alcohol (which turns to sugar in the body)
  • Dairy
  • Wheat
  • Meat

Better put, the best way is to begin a diet of vegetables, fruit, and ancient grains. This often means a cleanse. There are two wonderful cleanses that I love and have done numerous times. First is the Ayurvedic Panchakarma, which should be done under the supervision of an Ayurvedic Practitioner, one who has had many years of study. This cleanse is a minimum of two weeks but can last much longer. The second is the 10 Day Transformation developed by David Sandoval, a health guru who has also studied under Ayurvedic Physicians. This cleanse is 10 days and simple. I have seen people who eat meat three meals a day, successfully complete this transformation. More information on the cleanse here.

How do I know if I have inflammation?
The best way is to consult with your doctor. There are markers in the blood that show if you have inflammation, beyond what is normal for an injury, like swelling. However, there are some signs and symptoms of chronic inflammation in the body:

  • Pain — chronic, or irritating, persistent pain
  • Allergies — food and atmospheric — that get worse
  • Digestive issues — indigestion, ulcers, constipation, diarrhea, and diseases of the bowel
  • High blood pressure
  • Blood sugar problems
  • Fatigue, lethargy, depression
  • Skin problems — eczema, breakouts, rashes, etc
  • Weight gain and belly fat

Watch this great Ted Talk from Turhan Canli on the subject of depression as a possible infectious disease.