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      The stats tell it all: The number one cause of death in the United States is heart disease. That’s right, more than any other disease – even cancer (a close second) – heart disease is the most likely to kill you. The United States is currently facing a “diabesity” epidemic, or a substantial increase in the prevalence of metabolic syndrome leading to diabetes and obesity, all serious risk factors for heart disease.

      According to the American Heart Association, every 34 seconds someone in the US dies of a heart attack. By the time you finish reading this paragraph, another person will have lost their life. Sadly, many people do not even know they have heart disease until they experience a heart attack. These facts alone make Heart Health a critical topic to understand.

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    • Skin Health

      The gut-skin connection is very significant. Inflammatory processes present in the gut may manifest on the skin. Toxins are expelled with sweat, and can cause the skin to react. Like the inside of the digestive tract, the skin is covered in microbes which can be neutral, protective or pathogenic. Skin reaction may reflect what is going on inside the body. Therefore treating skin conditions only from the outside will often be ineffective and lead to other chronic issues.

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    • Brain Health

      The gut-brain connection occurs in two directions—from the brain to the gut, and from the gut to the brain. When a person has a “gut feeling,” or an emotional upset causes a stomachache or loss of appetite, they experience examples of the first, most familiar direction. When the gut is out of balance, inflammation results leading to a condition commonly known as leaky gut. A leaky gut will allow undigested food particles and toxins to enter into the bloodstream. Some may cross into the brain, setting the stage for diseases like Alzheimers and dementia. Recognizing the underlying contributing factors that created the gut imbalance in the first place is the first step to achieving optimal brain function .

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    • Diet & Health

      Healthy pH levels, whether in the colon or systemic, are found when you eat a high-fiber diet, high in vegetables and fruits, healthy proteins, and healthy fats. Complement this with foods and supplements high in beneficial bacteria, omega-3 fatty acids, and digestive enzymes, and you will be supporting optimal health (which begins in the digestive system).

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      Our dog’s health is precious! They provide us with unconditional love and companionship. A daily probiotic formula is a great way to ensure good health. Make sure you choose one that delivers the recommended potency level and strain count. There is nothing quite like a healthy and happy dog. Happy Dog. Happy Life!

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Cut the Stress, Free Your Mind

Filed in Adults, Alzheimer's, Brain, Dementia, Depression, Mental Health, Probiotics & Gut Flora, Stress, Uncategorized | Posted by Brenda Watson on 12/01/2016

Free Your Mind From Stress - brendawatson.com

One of the joys of the holiday season is when we reconnect with our families, young and old. Of course, it’s great fun when we get to hear of our Grandparent’s exciting trip they took to Ireland last year. But for some families the reunions are more bittersweet, as we notice the progressive changes that a year has taken on our loved one who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

Last weekend I saw an impactful edition of 60 Minutes on TV. Follow this link to view it yourself. In summary, it documents the struggles of a unique Columbian family that has a rare and disastrous genetic mutation, resulting in roughly 50% of their lineage to fall prey to very early onset Alzheimer’s followed by an approximate 10 year decline into oblivion. The episode is extraordinary to watch (grab your Kleenex box), and a clinical trial has begun that may offer incredible insights and even a possible cure into this dismaying disease. Please note that this type of Alzheimer’s is very rare. My prayers go out to this brave family.

Don’t despair, I have some good news for you here should you have concern about a bit too much forgetfulness lately. From an entirely different perspective, an encouraging article I read in the Wall Street Journal this week wants us to know that although Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death in the US, the chances of actually having a dementia condition like Alzheimer’s at a relatively early age – and early is defined as between 50 and 65 – is actually more remote than you might have imagined.

If you’ve been concerned, it’s far more likely that you are simply experiencing very normal age-associated declines in cognitive skills that can be greatly exacerbated by other lifestyle factors like exhaustion due to sleep issues, overwork, drug side effects, substance abuse, depression or adult attention deficit disorder. The general term for this situation is “brain fog”. Yes.

STRESS, along with a buffet of the choices we are casually offered in our society to deal with demanding circumstances to the best of our ability can magnify memory and cognition issues – and fog us up like we live across the bay from San Francisco. Uncover the stress that is intensifying the symptoms and clarity can again be yours.

Of course, if you have watched a family member decline into senility, you may be more sensitive to changes you note in your own life. And worrying that you are not at the top of your game can be absolutely debilitating. A well-intentioned physician may prescribe you an aid that doesn’t really benefit your particular situation. Or a seemingly relaxing habit like a drink or medication before bed may rob you of much needed deep sleep and clarity in the long run.

I’m not saying to ignore memory and cognition lapses. I am saying to love yourself, take a deep breath and attempt to evaluate the stress level you’re expecting yourself to function at. Would you even suggest that level of stress to your 30 year old niece? Probably not.

And if you are seriously concerned that your thoughts seem to be slipping, seek out an expert such as a geriatric psychiatrist or a neurologist who can review your symptoms and run appropriate tests.

In my experience, dietary choices and toxicity are always involved in any type of cognitive and mental issues. Caring for ourselves by making healthy meal choices, drinking plenty of water, exercise – all these are guaranteed to clear away a bit of that fog. And a great research study I read the other day (one of many) clearly demonstrates that probiotics, those good bacteria in your gut, may help boost memory and learning for Alzheimer’s patients. If they can do that for someone that already has symptoms, imagine how helpful they may be for the rest of us!

My greatest wishes are for you to enjoy a clear and joy-filled holiday – and please remember – cut the stress! You’ll free your mind!

Need a Natural Health Breakthrough?

Filed in Adults, Alzheimer's, Brain, Cats, Dementia, Depression, Dogs - Pets, Environmental Toxins, Fermentation, Heart Disease, Human Microbiome, Immune System, Longevity, Obesity, Parkinson's, Probiotics & Gut Flora, Weight Loss | Posted by Brenda Watson on 06/18/2015

Many of you who know me or have followed me for years know I’ve dedicated a great deal of my life to sharing knowledge on natural health options that you may not have known about.  Things like digestive health, cardiovascular care, toxicity, weight loss and more.  Well I’m at it again!

I am currently working on a new television series called Natural Health Breakthroughs with Brenda Watson.

What is Natural Health Breakthroughs?

This new series is designed to bring you the latest and most innovative health care options.

Health options that you can benefit from such as Stem Cell Therapy, Integrative Cardiovascular Therapy, Fecal Transplant, and the latest Genetic Testing.  I also cover topics such as Food Sensitivities, Brain Health, Gut Health, Effects of Environmental and Chemical Toxicity, even Natural Health for your pets.

These things are not secret, but they are not widely known either. And what’s not being shared are the amazing success stories all around us – people like you and me doing things far better than relying on drugs or having unnecessary procedures.

This information is something everyone should have, but I need your help to make that happen.

So far I have been able to fund and produce five episodes.  These five episodes are complete and ready to go and include: Integrative Cardiovascular Care; Better Health For Your Brain; How Fermented Foods Could Change Your Life; The Gut Microbiome and How It’s Changing Health Care; Toxicity and It’s Detrimental Effects on Generations to Come.

Now I need your help to finish the next five episodes.

The next five episodes are slated to include:   Stem Cell research and therapies and how to get them; how genetic testing could change your health care; food sensitivities and why they may be your hidden issue; latest research on obesity and surprising factors in your weight gain; natural health options for your pet and much more.

Now, here’s the thing! In order for any television station to air this series they need at least 10 episodes.  With your help we can finish the next 5 and be able to bring this information to you and your family.

I can’t imagine the information I already have in the 5 episodes so far just sitting there not able to be viewed by the thousands of people it can help.  That thought just makes my stomach turn!

In order to make the right decision about your health you have to have the information. It is a choice after all.  And that’s exactly what I am trying to do – give you choices for your health.

To find out more about my new show and how you can help please visit my page on the website Indiegogo: http://igg.me/at/BrendaWatson

Depression Reconsidered as an Infectious Disease

Filed in Depression, Immune System, Mental Health | Posted by Brenda Watson on 01/09/2015

Major depressive disorder is the most common type of depression and involves severe symptoms that interfere with an individual’s ability to work, sleep, study, eat, and enjoy life. Each year, about 6.7 percent of U.S. adults are affected by the condition, with women 70 percent more likely to be affected than men.

Scientists do not have a good handle on what actually causes depression. In some cases, a traumatic event can trigger its onset, but in other cases, no obvious trigger is evident. In a recent study published in the journal Biology of Mood & Anxiety Disorders, Turhan Canli, PhD, suggests that major depression be reconceptualized as an infectious disease.

Camli presents three arguments for why major depressive disorder should be considered an infectious disease:

  • Patients with major depressive disorder exhibit sickness behaviors such as loss of energy and feelings of illness. He sites inflammatory biomarkers as indicators of an illness-related origin.
  • Parasites, bacteria, and viruses are known to alter emotional behavior in infected individuals.
  • The human body is an ecosystem for microorganisms that are intricately related to the role of genetics.

“Deliberately speculative, this article is intended to stimulate novel research approaches and expand the circle of researchers taking aim at this vexing illness,” noted Canli.

Dr. Smith and I have blogged on this topic before. A number of studies point to alterations of mental status being linked to inflammation that originates from an infectious process somewhere in the body (often, the gut). This finding has the potential to greatly change how depression is researched and treated. I hope that others listen to Dr. Canli’s recommendations, which are currently way ahead of most others in his field.

Fish Intake Linked to Better Antidepressant Response

Filed in Depression, Diet, Omega-3 & Fish Oil | Posted by Brenda Watson on 01/02/2015

The mental health benefits of high fish intake are well known, particularly when it comes to fatty fish high in the omega-3s EPA and DHA. For this reason, some researchers have investigated the effects of fish and fish oil intake on mental health conditions, including depression. The main medication to treat depression—selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)—does not work in about half of the people taking them. Researchers decided to investigate whether fish intake played a role in the response rate to SSRIs in patients with depression.

In a study presented at the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology congress in Berlin, researchers found that, indeed, those people who ate the most fish responded best to the SSRIs. They compared 70 patients with depression to 51 healthy controls. They measured their fatty acid and cortisol (stress hormone) levels. They found that those who ate fatty fish at least once a week had a 75 percent chance of responding to antidepressants compared to 23 percent chance in those who never ate fatty fish.

“These findings suggest that measures of fatty acid metabolism, and their association with stress hormone regulation, might be of use in the clinic as an early indicator of future antidepressant response,” noted Roel Mocking, lead researcher. “Moreover, fatty acid metabolism could be influenced by eating fish, which may be a way to improve antidepressant response rates.”

The researchers are also investigating the association between fish intake and drug response in other mental health conditions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder and schizophrenia. Larger scale studies are needed to confirm the association and determine whether the link is causal. I look forward to hearing more about this research in the future. In the meantime, increase your intake of fatty fish low in mercury, such as salmon, sardines, and herring. Or, take a purified fish oil supplement. There are so many healthy reasons to increase your omega-3 intake.

2 Reasons to Love Your Omega-3s this Holiday Season

Filed in Brain, Depression, Omega-3 & Fish Oil | Posted by Brenda Watson on 12/19/2014

The holidays can take a toll on your body—both physically and mentally. Whether you’re entertaining at home or traveling to see friends and family, remember that your health is the most precious gift of all. Here are two good reasons to take your Omega-3s this season!

  1. Seasonal Depression? Omega-3s to the Rescue

Seasonal depression, or seasonal affective disorder (SAD), affects roughly 500,000 Americans every year, and according to the Mayo Clinic three out of every four SAD sufferers are women. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and may include sadness, anxiety, fatigue, irritability and weight gain. However, a recent review of clinical studies points to omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil as a possible way to alleviate those symptoms and help SAD sufferers endure the long winter months.

Looking at the results of several studies, including one conducted by Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and one from the New York State Psychiatric Institute, researchers concluded that the beneficial omega-3 fats found in fish oil—specifically EPA and DHA—helped ease depressive symptoms and improve mood. Vitamin D supplementation is also important, said researchers, since people suffering from depression and mental health disorders are often deficient in vitamin D.

  1. Go Easy on the Alcohol, But Just in Case…

Alcohol in excess is never good for your body, but the holidays have a way of thwarting our healthy habits. On the bright side, results of a new study from the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine reveal how fish-derived omega-3 DHA may help protect against alcohol-related brain damage because of its natural antiinflammatory properties. In a study involving rats, results showed 90% less inflammation and cell death in brain cells exposed to alcohol and omega-3 DHA when compared to those exposed to alcohol alone.

Fermented Food and Mental Health—Gut Microbes are the Missing Link

Filed in Adults, Brain, Depression, General, Inflammation, Mental Health, Probiotics & Gut Flora, Sugar | Posted by lsmith on 02/19/2014

Fermented foods have been a part of the diet even before humans knew about the existence of microbes—the very organisms that make fermentation possible. Our Paleolithic ancestors consumed honey, fruits, and fruit juices in fermented form without awareness of the trillions of microscopic beings they were concurrently ingesting. Even as long ago as 10,000 years, humans were deliberately fermenting foods as a form of preservation.1 Fast forward to today and one-third of the human diet globally consists of fermented foods.2

Fermentation of food and drink by microbes increases the nutritional status of foods as well as helps preserve the food. Fermentation of cereals, dairy, vegetables, fish, seafood, meats, and alcohol are all a part of our ancestral practices. Researchers from Harvard Medical School recently wrote a scientific review exploring the connection between fermented food and mental health, recognizing the intestinal microbiota as key to this integral relationship. They stated, “It is our contention that fermentation may amplify the specific nutrient or phytonutrient content of foods, the ultimate value of which is associated with mental health; furthermore, we also argue that the microbes associated with fermented foods may also influence brain health via direct and indirect pathways.”3

The researchers discuss the recent shift away from a traditional diet toward one high in processed, high-fat, high-sugar foods. This modern, Western dietary pattern has been linked to increased rates of depression and other mental health disorders. The researchers highlight the role of the microbiota in conjunction with the modern diet on markers of inflammation and oxidative stress as it relates to mental health. “The intestinal microbiota, via a number of mechanisms, may play a role in mediating the glycemic and mood related effects of the Western dietary pattern,” they state. Furthermore, “The burden of oxidative stress and inflammation is emerging as a vicious cycle that can directly influence mood, and the combination of the two appears to be both a cause and a consequence of depression.”

Ten years ago, the idea that gut microbes could positively affect mental health was still viewed as preposterous, although it was promoted by Logan et al.4,5 Back then, they proposed that our beneficial microbes could influence mood or fatigue in the following ways (many of which have since been investigated):

  • Direct protection of the intestinal barrier
  • Influence on local and systemic antioxidant status, reduction in lipid peroxidation
  • Direct, microbial-produced neurochemical production (i.e. GABA)
  • Indirect influence on neurotransmitter or neuropeptide production
  • Prevention of stress-induced alterations are related to overall intestinal microbiota diversity and numbers
  • Direct activation of neural pathways between gut and brain
  • Limitation of inflammatory cytokine production
  • Modulation of neurotrophic chemicals (i.e. brain-derived neurotrophic factors)
  • Limitation of carbohydrate malabsorption
  • Improvement of nutritional status, for example, better absorption of omega-3 fatty acids, minerals, dietary phytochemicals
  • Limitation of small intestinal bacterial overgrowth
  • Reduction of amine or uremic toxin burden
  • Limitation of gastric or intestinal pathogens
  • Analgesic properties

The Harvard researchers go on to discuss a number of studies that have been done on the mood effects of probiotic bacteria, some of which Brenda and I have discussed here on the blog or in our books. Overall, they call for more research that helps blend the separate pathways that are currently investigating mood disorders on one hand and the intestinal microbiota and fermented foods on the other.

The authors state, “Evidence would suggest that the two major themes of these mostly separate highways of research should converge; in other words, the fermented foods so often included in traditional dietary practices have the potential to influence brain health by virtue of the microbial action that has been applied to the food or beverage, and by the ways in which the fermented food or beverage influences our microbiota . . . The clinical world of mental health involves one where consumption of convenient, high-fat, or high-sugar foods is the norm; these foods, at odds with our evolutionary past, are not only undermining optimal nutritional status, they have untold effects on the microbiome and ultimately the brain.” Well said.

Maybe it’s time to wake up and include fermented yogurt and vegetables as a part of breakfast to start the day. When traveling in Europe, you may notice many hotels have fermented yogurt included on the buffet or as an option to add to breakfast. We would do well to follow this practice here in the United States.



  1. Caplice E and Fitzgerald GF, “Food fermentations: role of microorganisms in food production and preservation.” Int J Food Microbiol. 1999 Sep 15;50(1-2):131-49.
  2. Borresen EC, Henderson AJ, Kumar AJ, et al., “Fermented foods: patented approaches and formulations for nutritional supplementation and health promotion.” Recent Pat Food Nutr Agric. 2012 Aug;4(2):134-40.
  3. Selhub EM, Logan AC, and Bested AC, “Fermented foods, microbiota, and mental health: ancient practice meets nutritional psychiatry.” J Physiol Anthropol. 2014 Jan 15;33(1):2.
  4. Logan AC, Venket Rao A, Irani D, “Chronic fatigue syndrome: lactic acid bacteria may be of therapeutic value.” Med Hypotheses. 2003 Jun;60(6):915-23.
  5. Logan AC and Katzman M, “Major depressive disorder: probiotics may be an adjuvant therapy.” Med Hypotheses. 2005;64(3):533-8.


Leonard Smith, MD

Dr. Leonard Smith is a prominent Board-Certified, general, gastrointestinal and vascular surgeon who had a successful private practice for 25 years. In addition to his active surgery practice, he also incorporated lifestyle, diet, supplementation, exercise, detoxification, and stress management into many of the therapies he would prescribe. Many of his patients with cancer, cardiovascular disease, and other serious illnesses did so well under his treatment regimes that he began to devote most of his career to foundational health care and preventive medicine.

Inflammatory Diet Linked to Depression in Women

Filed in Brain, Depression, General, Inflammation | Posted by Brenda Watson on 12/16/2013

Women who eat a diet high in inflammatory foods—sugars, refined and starchy carbohydrates, processed meats, and trans fats to name the most common offenders—and low in anti-inflammatory foods—non-starchy fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats—are up to 41 percent more likely to be diagnosed with depression according to a new study by Harvard researchers published in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity.

Previous studies have linked inflammation to depression, but until now, a connection between depression and an inflammatory diet had not been investigated. The Harvard researchers performed a detailed dietary analysis to determine how diet, as a whole, is linked to the disorder. They followed over 43,000 women for more than 12 years, tracking their dietary patterns and depression along with several biomarkers for inflammation.

“These results converge with parallel findings on the relation between diet and physical health. From a public health perspective, it is reassuring that what is good for the body is also good for the mind,” stated lead researcher Alberto Ascherio, MD, PhD.

Diet is always 80 percent of the game, so I’m glad this study was done. When we understand that depression is linked to inflammation, we begin to want to reduce that inflammation. And sure, there are medications and supplements that reduce inflammation, but if you don’t address the main contributor to inflammation—the diet—then you are only addressing 20 percent of the problem. A healthy diet is key to lasting wellness.

Probiotics for the Mind—Psychobiotics

Filed in Brain, Depression, General, Probiotics & Gut Flora | Posted by lsmith on 11/27/2013

Use of probiotics to benefit mood is a recent advancement in the scientific literature, first proposed in 2005 when researchers suggested its use as an adjuvant treatment (add-on treatment) to standard care for major depressive disorder.1 In 2013, scientists defined psychobiotic as, “a live organism that, when ingested in adequate amounts, produces a health benefit in patients suffering from psychiatric illness,” recommending probiotics as a novel class of psychotropic (mind-altering) treatment.2 Probiotics have been found to act as delivery vehicles for neuroactive compounds (compounds that stimulate the nervous system),3 and certain probiotic strains actually secrete neuroactive compounds.4,5

In animal models the probiotic Bifidobacterium infantis was found to increase the serotonin precursor tryptophan.6 Serotonin is the feel-good hormone, and many antidepressant medications work by increasing the availability of serotonin. Might probiotics one day fill the role of antidepressant? Time will tell. So far the studies indicate that it’s a good possibility. In another animal model, Bifidobacterium infantis was found to normalize immune response, reverse negative behavioral effects, and restore norepinephrine levels induced by stress.7 Lactobacillus rhamnosus has been found to reduce anxiety and alter expression of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) receptors in another animal model.8 GABA is a calming neurotransmitter that has a counterbalancing effect to anxiety.

Human studies have also found benefit for probiotics on mood. In one study, individuals who took a combination of the probiotics Lactobacillus helveticus and Bifidobacterium longum for 30 days experienced reduced psychological distress and decreased cortisol levels (cortisol is released under stress) when compared to those who took placebo.9 Another human study found that healthy individuals who consumed a probiotic yogurt for three weeks and who had the lowest mood at the beginning of the study reported that they were happy rather than depressed after taking the probiotic.10 And in a study of patients with chronic fatigue syndrome, those taking Lactobacillus casei three times daily for two months experienced an improvement in anxiety when compared to those taking placebo.11

Also interesting to note, similar to antibiotics, antipsychotic medications have been found to alter the gut microbial balance by decreasing the amount of Actinobacteria (of which Bifidobacterium is a member) and Proteobacteria and increasing the number of Firmicutes.12 Likely not coincident, these individuals also gained weight—increases of Firmicutes have been found to be associated with weight gain.

The gut-brain connection is very interesting. As we continue to learn more about how our gut microbes affect mood, it is clear that probiotics—or psychobiotics as these researchers have termed them—will play an important role in managing or possibly even preventing mood disorders. I’ll keep you posted as we learn more.


  1. Logan AC, Katzman M, “Major depressive disorder: probiotics may be an adjuvant therapy.” Med Hypotheses. 2005;64(3):533-8.
  2. Dinan TG, Stanton C, and Cryan JF, “Psychobiotics: a novel class of psychotropic.” Biol Psychiatry. 2013 Nov 15;74(10):720-6.
  3. Lyte M, “Probiotics function mechanistically as delivery vehicles for neuroactive compounds: Microbial endocrinology in the design and use of probiotics.” Bioessays. 2011 Aug;33(8):574-81.
  4. Schousboe A, Waagepetersen HS, “GABA: homeostatic and pharmacological aspects.” Prog Brain Res. 2007;160:9-19.
  5. Roshchina VV, “Evolutionary Considerations of Neurotransmitters in Microbial, Plant, and Animal Cells.” In: Lyte M, Freestone PPE, editors. Microbial Endocrinology:Interkingdom Signaling in Infectious Disease and Health. New York: Springer, 17–52.
  6. Desbonnet L, Garret L, Clarke G, et al., “The probiotic Bifidobacteria infantis: An assessment of potential antidepressant properties in the rat.” J Psychiatr Res. 2008 Dec;43(2):164-74.
  7. Desbonnet L, Garret L, Clarke G, et al., “Effects of the probiotic Bifidobacterium infantis in the maternal separation model of depression.” Neuroscience. 2010 Nov 10;170(4):1179-88.
  8. Bravo JA, Forsythe P, Chew MV, et al., “Ingestion of Lactobacillus strain regulates emotional behavior and central GABA receptor expression in a mouse via the vagus nerve.” Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2011 Sep 20;108(38):16050-5.
  9. Messaoudi M, “Assessment of psychotropic-like properties of a probiotic formulation (Lactobacillus helveticus R0052 and Bifidobacterium longum R0175) in rats and human subjects.”
  10. Benton D, Williams C, Brown A, “Impact of consuming a milk drink containing a probiotic on mood and cognition.” Eur J Clin Nutr. 2007 Mar;61(3):355-61.
  11. Rao AV, Bested AC, Beaulne TM, et al., “A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study of a probiotic in emotional symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome.” Gut Pathog. 2009 Mar 19;1(1):6.Davey KJ, O’Mahoney SM, Schellekens H, et al., “Gender-dependent consequences of chronic olanzapine in the rat: effects on body weight, inflammatory, metabolic and microbiota parameters.” Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2012 May;221(1):155-69.
  12. K.J. Davey, S.M. O’Mahoney, H. Schellekens, et al., “Gender-dependednt consequences of chronic olanzapine in the rat: effects on body weight, inflammatory, metabolic and microbiota parameters.” Psychopharmacology 221, no. 1 (May 2012):155–69.

Moderate Exercise Prevents Depression

Filed in Depression, Exercise, General | Posted by Brenda Watson on 11/22/2013

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 1 in 10 US adults report being depressed. The most common treatments for depression include medication and therapy, although exercise has also been found to be a helpful treatment. Taking this concept one step further, in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, researchers reviewed 30 studies on the effects of moderate exercise for the prevention of depression and found that 25 of these studies demonstrated that an increase in physical activity was associated with a decreased risk of subsequently developing depression.

“This review shows promising evidence that the impact of being active goes far beyond the physical,” stated George Mammen, lead researcher. With the ever-rising sea of health-care costs, a preventive strategy for depression—and really any health condition or disorder—is crucial. “We need a prevention strategy now more than ever. Our health system is taxed. We need to shift focus and look for ways to fend off depression from the start.”

I recommend regular physical activity for a number of reasons. Not only will your mental health benefit, but your stress levels will fall, your risk of many chronic diseases will drop, your weight will decrease, and your digestion will improve. If those aren’t good reasons to get moving, I don’t know what are. Regular exercise has been an integral part of my own life for many, many years. I make time for it because I know how important it is to my health. I hope that you will make the time for it, too.