Blood sugar and mood

“ScienceDaily (2012-01-10) — Patients simultaneously treated for both Type 2 diabetes and depression improve medication compliance and significantly improve blood sugar and depression levels compared to patients receiving usual care, according to a new study.”

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120110093559.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily%2Fmind_brain+%28ScienceDaily%3A+Mind+%26+Brain+News%29

In plain English, this means that people with non-insulin-dependent diabetes need to be treated both for diabetes and depression; when that happens, twice as many get stable.

This falls under the Department of the Blitheringly Obvious, because — as anyone who has hypoglycemia, or has dealt with diabetics knows — depression is the first sign of low blood sugar; low or unstable blood sugar leads to poor decision-making, notably poor food choices; poor food choices lead to unstable blood sugar, and round and round we go.

To break the cycle, both must be addressed. Otherwise, the cycle continues feeding on itself… er, unfeeding on itself. Or something.

As anyone with common sense who has dealt with the mentally ill knows, the first intervention is a proper meal. It’s simply amazing how things improve with a little real food inside.

Unstable blood sugar worsens pain, impairs memory, and limits cognitive function. Low blood sugar specifically creates an unhappy state.

A hungry brain is not a happy brain!

Treating type II diabetes without treating depression, or treating depression without treating underlying type II diabetes, is not a recipe for success. The fact that as many as one third of these diabetic patients even get better, is pretty remarkable. Treat both, and over 60% of these people go back to cheerful, stable, productive lives — not needing sickleave, additional benefits, or other direct and indirect expenses.

Sounds like a good cost/benefit profile to me!

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News flash: the gut and brain are connected!

The obvious scatological humor will be left alone. Guys, you know what I mean. (Girls who were outnumbered by your brothers, you too.)

I started to blog this article because the forehead-smacking tone of the revelation that the gut might relate to the brain was a bit too much for me. On closer examination, it looks like the misplaced drama is the writer’s, not the scientists’.

One of the places where serotonin is released is in the gut, where it helps digest proteins. That’s the most obvious “duh” moment here. Moreover, as those of us who remember our embryology know, the inter-relationships and constant correspondence between neurology and gut, gut and immunity, immunity and endocrine system, endocrine and neurological system are all too intense and interlocked for words.

Most studies make brutally clear that these so-called systems are medically treated as separate and distinct, but our bodies never got that memo. It’s all the same system, as far as the body is concerned.

Much of this researcher’s recent work focuses on neurology of the gut — enteric neurology. It’s a real thing now. His prior work focused on the biological environment in the gut, or the intestinal microbiota.

// START Word geek goes wild:
Sometimes, I just love medical terminology for the way it rolls, hops, and bounces off the tongue. Enteric neurology. Intestinal microbiota. Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis.

Maybe that last one doesn’t work so well.
// END Word geeking.

If you can stand the medical and chemical jargon, it’s worth looking into some of his work. It’s probably not a stretch to call it prescient, in that it is likely to lay the foundations for our emerging understanding of the gut as a more complex and self-managing, yet interlocked, set of systems than we’ve ever imagined before.

I can’t find the original science article, just this unsatisfactory and superficial overview. It says that intestinal microbiota affect the person’s mood and feelings, and that it’s possible to deliver specific probiotics (like yogurt species, naturally-fermented cole slaw, certain cheeses and the like) in order to have a specific benefit to the neurological system.

If you were an empiricist, like me, it would sound like “eating good, living food leads to better mental health,” which healers have been saying for millenia. But far be it from me to steal such well-researched thunder.

Link list:

Science Daily article:
A Gut-Full of Probiotics for Your Neurological Well-Being

Credentials of lead researcher, Prof. Lyte:
Mark Lyte, Ph.D., M.S., MT (ASCP)

Wikipedia’s digest (sic) of the enteric nervous system (this seems basically congruent with the uber-geeky medical studies I looked at on the subject, so I accept it as a decent primer):
Enteric Nervous System

Couldn’t find a good overview that didn’t involve more dead rodents than I could, er, stomach.

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Curing the incurable: type 1 diabetes in mice, with 78% success rate

Next Big Future: Gene therapy reverses type 1 diabetes in mice with 78% success rate

Intriguing approach: providing gene therapy to both protect and rebuild the Islets of Langerhans, which means blocking the T cells from the islet cells without compromising them otherwise.

For an early trial of a complex therapy, this is rather brilliant and very promising. Of course, humans are not mice, but type 1 diabetes is generally type 1 diabetes – or something very similar.

Next up: a cure for CRPS, Alzheimer’s, and AIDS. Hey, it could happen.

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Digestive problems early in life may increase risk for depression, study suggests

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110512171517.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily%2Fmind_brain+%28ScienceDaily%3A+Mind+%26+Brain+News%29

This article states that gut disturbance in early infancy/lifelong gut disturbance (the language is kinda sloppy) can trigger lifelong depression and anxiety.

This doesn’t surprise me, but most of the rest of the article does.

The rat-botherers who did the study presume it’s all about the vagus nerve. Recently, a deliciously expensive procedure which stimulates the vagus has been found to alleviate some depression. It’s good to know that.

It’s good to keep a couple other things firmly in mind first, though:

- Serotonin is produced in the small intestine, as well as the brain. It helps to digest protein. It also plays a role in immune signaling. Think that could possibly be related, either to depression or to inflamed gut syndromes? H’mmm…

- My first thought: get right on top of infant digestive problems. That means getting serious about both prevention and cure.

Oddly, that idea wasn’t even mentioned, even though prevention is infinitely better than trying to manage a lifelong downer like IBS or depression — let alone both!

Prevention is simple in concept, but inexcusably difficult in our current system. With babies, it’s easy: get dead-serious about breastfeeding. Where that’s not possible, put aside formulas at the first sign of allergy. Don’t switch between cow and soy milk, two of the most allergenic infant proteins on the planet; milk more goats and camels. Go to a breastmilk-bank. Find your local midwives because they are much better with the idea that birth is only the beginning of a much longer life, and they should know how to figure this out. If they don’t, they can tell you who else to call.

And punctual treatment for troublesome insides — with the least invasive meds. Interfere with their little regulatory systems as little as possible, but take care of the problem. For indigestion, chamomile and calcium carbonate are much better than h2-inhibitors (Zantac, Prilosec and the like.) Chamomile also soothes the mind and settles the emotions, so the kid can relax.

Try elimination diets to screen for allergies. Sadly, wheat, eggs, cow dairy, soy, and corn are common allergens which affect the developing gut — and the developing skin and brain, because their little bodies never got the memo that all of these systems are supposed to be separate from each other.

Google those terms, discuss them with your midwife/pediatrician/nurse practitioner, and take care of the problem at its source.

You don’t want more depressed people in the world. There are better things to do with infants than let their guts screw up a good life, handing them into the craps-shooting care of multiple pharmaceuticals and invasive procedures.

When I get on the CPU, I’ll set up more links for my factual statements. This is it from the iPhone.

Bon appetit!

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A job well begun …

I have CRPS-1/RSD/causalgia, and when your condition has more than one name, it’s a bad sign. I was a nurse, I was a tech writer, and I remain fascinated by health and technology.

Some parts of my brain have blown gaskets, but examining the science relating to neurology/immunology/endocrinology — and mulling how it could work in real life — seems to go just fine. It’s appropriate to both my professions that I want to track, document, and share what I learn.

You’re invited to watch and engage in this interesting journey. It’s taking place at an unimaginably rich, burgeoning age of technological development and biological understanding.

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