Anxiety and depression affects a large majority of our population. We have already mentioned how the excessive production and overstimulation from serotonin, dopamine, and adrenaline can create these symptoms.
Let’s focus on serotonin again and connect it with how diet and sugar can create depression and anxiety...and which blood markers can give an indication that inflammation is high.
Remember that the constant stimulation of any receptor, whether it’s from high serotonin, dopamine, adrenaline, histamine, etc. will cause the body to remove more receptors on our cells to reduce overstimulation. The body is attempting to create balance. Serotonin alone has 14 different receptors. Looking at your bloodwork can be daunting, but knowing a few simple things to look for can help you make instant changes.
Serotonin is made from an amino acid called tryptophan. We naturally do not produce tryptophan, we have to get it from outside sources in our diet. A list was mentioned in the previous post; turkey, chicken, oats, eggs, etc. When there is sufficient tryptophan in the diet, and your genes efficiently create an enzyme called a tryptophan hydroxylase(TH), you will break down tryptophan to serotonin. The body then takes the serotonin and breaks it down even further to 5-HIAA(5-Hydroxy Indole acetic acid), a safe metabolite that can be excreted or reused safely.
We know that backed up levels of serotonin create aggressive behavior, anxiety, OCD, PTSD, depression, and psyche/mood alterations. Additionally, if tryptophan cannot be broken down safely to serotonin, it will turn into a product called kynurenine. What can prevent tryptophan breakdown? INFLAMMATION and HIGH CORTISOL LEVELS, and that inflammation comes from sugar and our diets. When inflammatory chemicals are circulating in your body, it can lead to the body creating kynurenine. High kynurenine has been shown in research to have connection to neurotic behavior, depression, and reduced thickness in the prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain used for well thought-out decisions. Basically, it causes neurological impairments, such as tics, brain deficits, and connection to diseases such as Alzheimer’s. You can get your kynurenine levels checked by a NutrEval test from Genova Diagnostics. And if the numbers are high, you need to check for causes, such as excess sugars, improper diet, and infections. Genova also has many tests for infections. Consider getting your cortisol and insulin levels checked as well. This type of testing is also ideal for children who are on the spectrum of autism, since there are studies showing the link of high kynurenine with autism.
Additional markers for inflammation that you can find on your bloodwork are C-reactive proteins(CRP) and hemoglobin A1c. Research has been showing that there is a definite link with high CRP levels and its effect on depression (Molecular Psychiatry 21, no. 10, Oct. 2016). Inflammation can reduce the connection between the prefrontal cortex and your reward centers. Which basically means that you can act out of instant gratification instead of well thought out decisions. The higher the CRP, the greater the chance for depression or anxiety.
Hemoglobin A1c is an indication for blood sugar levels. This is particularly important for diabetics. Hemoglobin is a protein in your red blood cells that carries oxygen. Iron attaches into the protein, and this allows the red blood cell to carry oxygen. Sugar can also bind to hemoglobin, and this is what A1c measures in your body. If there is high amounts of sugar bound to hemoglobin, you will have high A1c. To anyone that suffers from high blood sugar, they call this process glycation. If too much sugar is in your blood, it sticks to the hemoglobin and creates high inflammation.
The reason reducing inflammation is important, is its effect on the brain. High inflammation creates brain problems and deficiencies...which can result in depression and anxiety. How can you and I simply reduce it? Reduce the carbs, refined sugars, starches, and GMO grains, and cow’s dairy. That’s an easy first step. I have seen patients blood work change dramatically just by making these changes. Your choices can change you!