The Rebel Podcast

Ep. 56 – Is Your Gut Making You Depressed or Anxious? – with Dr. Rachel Lovink

Dr. Rachael Lovink is a licensed Naturopathic Physician who is incredibly passionate about helping others regain their health. She believes that, given the proper attention, any body will intuitively find it’s way back into balance.

By virtue of her experience and training, Dr. Lovink has a toolkit she can employ to treat all kinds of conditions and illnesses. However, one of her greatest passions is in the treatment of anxiety, depression, ADHD, bipolar and other cognitive/psychiatric conditions through diet, lifestyle, and targeted supplementation.

You’ve probably heard the phrases “I have butterflies in my stomach,” “I have a gut feeling about this,” or “there’s a pit in my stomach.” These aren’t just cute phrases – this is your body and your brain trying to communicate something to you.

I am a firm believer in the gut-brain axis, or the relationship between digestive health and cognitive function, memory, depression, anxiety, and other mental and behavioral health issues – and that’s just what I discuss what Dr. Lovink in this episode.

What Role Does Our Gut Play in Mood & Anxiety disorders?

Mood and anxiety disorders are more prevalent than ever. A report put out by the Government of Canada in 2016 indicated that 1/10 Canadians accessed healthcare for mental health (and I think it’s a safe bet that more than 1/10 people experience mental health problems and don’t know how to access support, or don’t feel comfortable doing so).

Depression and anxiety are two of the most common mental health problems that people seek help for, with significant overlap between them; people who experience one often experience both.

Through a phenomenon called bidirectional communication, the brain influences the gut and the gut influences the brain. So in the same way anxiety can make your stomach feel a little iffy, inflammation in the gut can mess with your brain.

A closer look at the Gut, AKA our Second Brain

If we look at the gut from a top-down perspective, it starts in the mouth and ends at the rectum. In a structural sense, it is quite simple: a hollow tube. However, it is incredibly complex in its function.

It is one of the major barriers between our inside and outside world and, therefore, plays an incredibly important role in immunity. In fact, 70% of our immune system is “housed” in the gut! When we have intestinal inflammation (“fire in our gut”), our intestinal wall breaks down, which leads to break down of our blood brain barrier and inflammation in the brain.

So how do we fix gut problems?

Follow the 4 R’s:

  • Remove the barriers to health. You can eat all the best foods in the world, but if you have an infection in your gut or chronic stress, all of that work won’t get you very far.
  • Replace systems or parts of the digestive tract that aren’t working properly. Typically, that involves replacing digestive enzymes to help break down the food that you’re eating.
  • Reinoculate, which means using probiotics to put good, healthy bacteria back in your gut. But all probiotics aren’t made equal and everyone doesn’t need the same bacteria, so don’t just grab the first probiotic you see on store shelves!
  • Repair your gut lining. This involves things like targeted supplementation and diet changes to specifically address the structure of your gut.

Remember to listen to your gut – it will always tell you when things are off!

Download this Episode MP3.


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Disclaimer: The activities and research discussed in these podcasts are suggestions only and are only advised to be undertaken following prior consultation with a health or medical professional. Fitness training, nutrition, and other physical pursuits should be tailored to the individual based upon an assessment of their personal needs.

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