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suicide and the gut microbiome

This week, we've lost two celebrities to suicide. First, Kate Spade, and only three days later, Anthony Bourdain.

Suicide contagion is a real thing. If you have been triggered by these deaths, please reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255. For a list of international suicide crisis numbers, please click here.

Is there a link between suicidal feelings and the gut?

I know from personal experience that if the gut microbiome is dysbiotic (unbalanced), both physical and emotional health can suffer severely. Gut microbes produce metabolic byproducts like butyrate, which has been shown to function as an anti-depressant. The bulk of our serotonin and other neurotransmitters are also made in the gut. The evidence is strong that suicidal feelings can be a result of gut dysbiosis.

"Scientists have found that gut bacteria produce neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine and GABA, all of which play a key role in mood (many antidepressants increase levels of these same compounds). Certain organisms also affect how people metabolize these compounds, effectively regulating the amount that circulates in the blood and brain. Gut bacteria may also generate other neuroactive chemicals, including one called butyrate, that have been linked to reduced anxiety and depression. Cryan and others have also shown that some microbes can activate the vagus nerve, the main line of communication between the gut and the brain. In addition, the microbiome is intertwined with the immune system, which itself influences mood and behavior." [source]

From about age 10, i experienced episodes of depression and suicidal feelings. Anxiety came later, in my teens, followed by panic attacks in my 20's. Most of these followed me throughout my life until just over a year ago when i healed my gut and reestablished a diverse microbiome. If you follow my FaceBook page, you'll often see me write, "Feed your good gut bugs and they'll feed you in return!" or "Take care of them, and they'll take care of you!" They are everything. They changed my life. I no longer spend days in bed with depression or stay awake nights with anxiety. I have moments of out-of-nowhere bliss frequently. Had I not healed my gut, I never would have known that this is how good life can feel, and not just once in a while. Feeling content and at peace can and should be the norm, not the exception.

I adore my gut bugs.

If you are suffering from emotional imbalance, look to the gut. Love your microbiome. Here are some ways you can start:

  • Eat real food - fresh whole fruits and veggies, organically grown - toxic pesticides, herbicides, etc. all harm good gut bugs; organic, grass-fed meats and eggs from pasture-raised chickens. Avoid hydrogenated oils and non-foods. Clean excess sugar from your diet.

  • Use natural body care products, free of phthalates, sulfates and other endocrine-disrupting chemicals which harm the microbiome.

  • When possible, avoid chemical pain relievers and other chemical medicines which can harm the microbiome.

  • Mind your stress levels - too much stress kills good gut bugs. Yoga, exercise, meditation, a hobby - whatever appeals to you to lower stress, do it!

  • Take a walk in the woods or by the ocean whenever you can. It improves your microbiome.

  • Grow a garden and get your hands dirty; dirt can help diversify the microbiome and double as an anti-depressant.

  • Work with a gut health coach (like me) or a functional medicine practitioner to optimize your microbiome.

  • Surround yourself with positive people who can influence your happiness.

I know some (or all) of these things can seem impossible when in the midst of depression or anxiety. Take baby steps. Choose one item and find a way to do it. When that item has become a habit, choose another to add in.

If you are in immediate danger, please reference the phone numbers above and reach out for help.

You deserve health and happiness. Yes, you.


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