The brain and the gut are subjects about which I have been learning and thinking for many years. However, it is only in recent months that I have even become aware of how they are directly connected to each other. It is nothing short of mind-blowing to me. Please bear with me as I simply share some key facts and hope you will pursue this further on your own.
As a starter, we have quintillions of microorganisms coexisting with us in the body. 1000 or more different strains of bacteria live in the gut, called the gut microbiome (another new word for me) weighing about 3lbs to 5lbs. In essence, we are providing housing for these beings in our body and are currently being challenged to shift our whole way of thinking about them. Every microorganism is not the enemy that must be chased down and killed. We need them for our own survival in ways I have never imagined before. Depending on the composition of the microbiome we may be healthy or suffer from all kinds of brain and other problems. These include autoimmune diseases, dementia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, ADHD, autism, migraines, whether you are slim or overweight, anxious, depressed etc., etc.
All the microbes produce chemicals which are sent directly to the brain (yes they cross the blood-brain barrier). The brain then reacts and another cascade of chemicals finds its way to every one of our human cells. Gut bacteria regulate immunity, determine the set point for inflammation, which we have come to realize basically underlies all disease, including those of the brain. They are involved in neurotransmitter and vitamin production, detoxification, nutrient consumption, signaling hunger or satiety and more. Some functions are directed by the microbiome independent of the brain. For this reason it is called the second brain and even the first brain by some.
Some basic causes for the imbalances of the microbiome include use of antibiotics, chlorinated water and pools, hand sanitizers, herbicides and pesticides in our foods and environment, medications we received, especially in childhood, birth method, and more.
Perlmutter* gives us hope with the fact that “the gut microbiotic community is wonderfully receptive to rehabilitation” He lists six essential keys to encourage the right kind of growth of brain-sustaining organisms. They are prebiotics, probiotics, fermented foods, low-carb foods, gluten-free foods, and healthy fat. The brain being mostly fat, he emphasizes use of good fat. like oils from coconut, olives, avocado (organic of course) and avoid all trans fats. Makes sense since oils are involved in regulating the inflammation set point.
In his book Brain Maker, he goes into detail about all this. The amazing thing is that the condition of the microbiome is essential to our physical, emotional, mental health. That is not a brand new discovery. But the gut directing the brain, so to speak and the direct communication between them is ground breaking. I definitely feel that I’m not in Kansas anymore.
This emerging information is so important to our health and well-being that I’m asking you to pass it on to everyone on your list. And of course I urge you to look into this more yourself. You will be so glad you did. In Light and Love, Hedi
* Brain Maker by David Perlmutter MD p 12 Other sources of information: – You Tube programs. There are quite a few – look for microbiome, brain-gut, Perlmutter. There is a long list of choices and varying lengths of time. –Radio program on Charlotte Talks, September 4, 2015. Check the archives.