Anita Kemp Ph.D. Blog

Ideas for a healthy body, mind and spirit.

The Mind-Gut Connection

Another good book on the mind-gut connection, The Mind-Gut Connection by Emeran Mayer MD. Here is a summary of some of the points that are most critical for mental health. The lining of the gut has specialized cells that can release up to 20 different hormones and this is greater that any other endocrine organ. 95% of the serotonin is stored here and its release is impacted by what we eat, by the chemicals released from gut microbes and from signals of the brain. Ninety percent of the signals between the gut-brain go from the gut to the brain through the vagus nerve and only 10% from the brain to the gut. With more than 100 trillion microbes n the gut, who is in charge?

Excessive dietary fat and reduced fiber compromise the intestinal barrier leading to inflammation with subsequent decreased energy, increased pain sensitivity and increased likelihood of depression. There is a growing link between this and Alzheimer’s. Maybe ice cream feels better in the short term but then what? Interesting that patients can be classified as having depression just be examining their gut microbes.

Sobering news is that the gut microbes that play such an important role in mental and physical health are mainly set by age 3. Various probiotics and diets do not alter the gut microbes much but they do impact the metabolites produced by the microbes. So yes eat yogurt. However, diet alone is not an answer. Anxiety, anger and stress need to be reduced to have healthy gut microbes.

The bottom line is to eat healthy while reducing stress and know that our thinking brain is only a small part of our mental health.

January 1, 2019 Posted by | Depression, Emotional Well Being | , , | Leave a comment

Benefits of Mindfulness Meditation

This information is extracted from a new book by Daniel Goleman and Richard Davidson, ALTERED TRAITS: SCIENCE REVEALS HOW MEDITATION CHANGES YOUR MIND, BRAIN AND BODY.  It is fairly dense reading about the controlled scientific studies done to date. The importance of these new studies is that they are demonstrating changes in the brain through fMRIs that with continued meditation become traits or permanent changes in the brain.

These authors look at studies that used Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy, Compassion practice and different types of meditation practices.

Studies are showing certain areas of the brain enlarge. These areas help attention and self-regulation. It is less likely to become hijacked by emotions and to fall into anxiety or depression or impulsive action. The amygdala has reduction in activity which leads to a calmer state of being.

Other benefits: age-related brain atrophy slowed, reduction in shortening of telomerase, reduction in pain.

 

 

 

January 20, 2018 Posted by | Depression, Emotional Well Being, meditation | , , | Leave a comment

Fight Depression with Diet, Exercise and Meditation

If you are contemplating taking antidepressants or are already on antidepressants and they are not working, here is the information you need now. Kelly Brogan MD had written a book that summarizes what we know about depression and antidepressants and then presents her plan to help women especially to get healthy without drugs. The book is A Mind of Your Own: The Truth About Depression and How Women Can Heal Their Bodies to Reclaim Their Lives. She reviews the research that basically says antidepressants are a placebo but have negative side effects that are not worth the minimal help. Healthy diet, exercise and meditation are the answer. Her diet is very restrictive and you have to be very motivated to follow this. For 30 days, she asks you to be off gluten, dairy, sugar, potatoes, rice, soy and legumes. And only drink water. No other beverages. Wow! However this is for 30 days and then you add back foods to see if they work for you or not. Even if you don’t want to do this sort of eating, please read the book. The information is invaluable.

December 10, 2017 Posted by | Depression, Emotional Well Being | , , | Leave a comment