When infection leads to mental illness

A new study published in Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica gives even more reason to support immunity and help the body ward off infections.

In this new study, researchers showed that even non-severe infections — those that don’t require hospitalization such as fungal or parasite infections — may increase the risks of schizophrenia and depression.

Previous data has suggested that patients hospitalized with serious infections carry a higher risk of these conditions. However, this is the first study to propose that even non-serious infections which are most often treated by general practitioners, can raise these risks. Results demonstrated a dose-dependent relationship, with a with a higher number of infections leading to increased risks of depression and schizophrenia.

Emerging research in the field of gut-brain-immunology outlines complex relationships between the immune system, nervous system, and digestive system. Often referred to as the Gut-Brain axis, scientists are showing how the emotional and cognitive centers of the brain are closely linked with intestinal function by way of neurological, hormonal, immunological, microbial and other pathways.

This latest study showing relationships between infections, the subsequent use of antibiotics or other drugs and increased risk of mental conditions, adds further insight into these complex interrelationships. Such drugs disrupt healthy intestinal flora, setting the stage for a cascade of consequences.

The role of healthy gut microbiota in mental and emotional health is well established in previous research, and this study further suggests that an unhealthy microbiome caused by infections and drug treatments, may be a factor in the onset of mental and cognitive imbalances.

Keep immunity and digestive health strong

One of the best ways to safeguard and repair digestive, immune and many other areas of health, is with targeted nutraceuticals. Perhaps not coincidentally, many digestive-supporting botanicals and supplements also work to improve brain and neurological function, hormone balance, immune health and more. The following is a list of key nutrients that support not only digestive but other connected areas of health:

  • Probiotics and Prebiotics: These are two of the most important supplements you can take to help restore healthy digestion. Probiotics provide live strains of friendly bacteria that are crucial for digestive, immune and neurological health, and prebiotics ensure that your friendly flora are provided with a nourishing environment in which they can thrive.
  • Zinc: An important nutrient for digestive health, which also plays critical roles in hormone regulation, immune health and neurological function.
  • Chinese Cardamom: Offers numerous benefits for digestion, increases antioxidant levels and boosts immunity. Also helps to combat unhealthy cellular growth and balance hormones with the compound Indole-3 Carbinole.
  • Cinnamon: Soothes digestive discomfort, improves digestive capacity, boosts immunity, and balances blood sugar.
  • Ginger Root: Improves digestion, reduces inflammation and purifies GI tract, increases antioxidant levels and boosts immunity.
  • Fish Oil: Reduces inflammation and help heal GI tract lining, improve nutrient absorption, balance hormones, improve neurological function and boost immunity.
  • Proteolytic Enzymes: Increase digestive capacity and nutrient absorption, boost immunity and increase vital energy.

Additional tips for improving digestive health and immunity

Some of the most common causes of digestive dysfunction include an unhealthy, inflammatory diet, late meals, rushed eating, food allergies and most of all, stress. Simply taking the time to slow down and eat healthy foods in a mindful way can greatly improve digestive health, immunity and stress. These practical tips can help you improve digestion, immunity, mental health – and more:

  • Include an abundance of fiber in your diet from fresh fruits, vegetables and whole, unprocessed grains
  • Avoid processed foods, commercial meats and trans-fats (unhealthy fats)
  • Test for food allergies and sensitivities with your doctor
  • Refrain from eating two to three hours before bedtime
  • Drink plenty of filtered water and herbal teas for proper hydration
  • Find healthy ways to relieve stress such as meditation, exercise and laughter
  • Practice yoga for improving digestive function and reducing stress
  • Limit use of over-the-counter and prescription drugs

Time-tested wisdom validated by science

Traditional healing systems, including Traditional Chinese Medicine, have long understood that individual digestive ecosystems impact numerous areas of health and play a large role in how we look, feel, think and act. Western medicine is uncovering many of these same relationships, such as the complex gut/brain connection, from a scientific standpoint. These striking parallels between modern science and ancient healing wisdom will continue to unfold as our research-based understandings of human physiology continue to shed new light onto time-tested philosophies of health and healing.

Broad spectrum health benefits are common to many natural therapies. In the case of digestive health, however, the seemingly diverse effects offered by many digestive remedies give us a more in-depth perspective on the direct connections between gut health, immune health, brain function and overall well-being. To download a free digestive health guide, click here.

For more health and wellness information, visit www.dreliaz.org.

Dr. Isaac Eliaz

By Dr. Isaac Eliaz

Dr. Isaac Eliaz is a renowned integrative medical doctor, licensed acupuncturist, researcher, product formulator and frequent guest lecturer. He has been a pioneer in holistic medicine since the early 1980s, and has published numerous peer-reviewed research papers on several of his key integrative health formulas. He is the founder and medical director of Amitabha Clinic in California, an integrative health center specializing in cancer and chronic conditions. Dr. Eliaz is an expert in using highly strategic, synergistic protocols to address numerous areas of health including metastatic cancer, immunity, digestion, detoxification, diabetes, cardiovascular health and more. His approach integrates modern science with traditional healing wisdom for optimal health and wellness. To download any of Dr. Eliaz's comprehensive wellness guides, click here.