Depression was long thought to be strictly a psychological condition, but that ended up not being the entire story. Over time we discovered that chemical imbalances in the brain also played a role in depression. And now, most recently, it has been discovered that depression may not actually be a brain condition at all, it might actually be more of an infection.
Huh? An infection? That’s right. Think of depression as an infectious disease however, not an infectious disease in the way most people think of infectious diseases. Of course depression is not a contagious disease like Ebola or HIV or anything like that. To understand what I’m trying to say let me first attempt to define the word ‘disease’ for you. I like to think of the word disease as two separate words: ‘dis’ and ‘ease’. ‘Dis’ comes from latin and means ‘apart,’ ‘asunder,’ ‘away,’ or having a negative or reversing force. And ‘ease’ means…well…ease. Easy. The absence of difficulty or effort. So think of ‘dis-ease’ as ‘lack of ease’. Lack of flow. Things are difficult. Things are not easy. So what can cause a lack of ease in the body? How about an unhealthy lifestyle? You bet! When your lifestyle and diet do not align with the principles of healthy living, you will inevitably experience a lack of ease in your body. You will literally experience disease. How that disease expresses itself will vary person to person. It may come out as an autoimmune disorder such as rheumatoid arthritis or diabetes, or it might express itself as something far worse such as cancer. But given enough time and enough stress on the system, it will inevitably come out as something.
That’s because an unhealthy lifestyle sets off the body’s natural immune response which we generally refer to as inflammation. Inflammation is a physical condition in which parts of the body become reddened, swollen, hot, and often painful, especially as a reaction to injury or infection. If you’ve ever cut yourself or rolled your ankle badly you’ve experienced this phenomenon. The area gets red and swollen and even hot to the touch. An unhealthy lifestyle sets off this immune response in the exact same way that an injury or infection would. Although this is a natural response that is necessary for healing, too much chronic inflammation can cause problems. And now there are numerous studies linking high levels of inflammation with depression. This article from The Guardian entitled Is Depression a Kind of Allergic Reaction? talks further about these research studies and what they mean for the future of depression treatment.
So if high levels of inflammation can cause depression, what do we do about it? Well, the answer is we need to lower the levels of inflammation in the body. And how do we do that? A diet filled with lots of plant-based foods and some healthy animal-based foods is the best way to go. Avoiding processed foods, and the dreaded trans fat, will also help keep inflammation in check. A healthy diet isn’t just a nice thing to do for people who have the time, it’s a fundamental lifestyle habit we should all be practicing. Nature really does give us the best medicine in the form of whole, natural food. Start thinking of the produce drawer in your fridge as your medicine cabinet, keep it filled with fresh vegetables and fruits all year round!
If you’re not sure how to plan a healthy diet then I suggest you look into hiring a professional that can help you. It’s hard to do this stuff on your own, especially with all the misinformation out there about healthy eating. At Function Health Club we have professional nutritionists on hand to give you much needed guidance. Our nutritionists are people who have studied the science behind healthy eating, and they use that knowledge to prepare meal plans for you. They can also prepare for you a grocery shopping list so you end up buying the right foods in the right quantities, this will help take the anxiety and confusion out of grocery shopping. Our nutritionists can even give you tips on how to prepare and cook your food as well as teach you strategies for how to order when going out to restaurants so you don’t end up falling off the healthy eating wagon. If you want to learn more about our nutrition consulting service and why our nutritionists are some of the best in Vancouver, please visit our nutrition consulting webpage by clicking here.
Besides being a regular contributor to the Function Health Club blog, Jeff Doyle is also the co-owner of Function Health Club as well as a Personal Trainer, BCRPA Trainer of Fitness Leaders, Agatsu Kettlebell Instructor and Older Adult Wellness Practitioner. He also has a Bachelor of Human Kinetics. You can contact Jeff directly at firstname.lastname@example.org