The Gut and Brain Truth 

The following are some real facts that you can live by. 

Your body has 2 brains – the one you know about and the other the lies in your digestive tract called the Enteric Nervous System. 

Your gut houses 80% of your immune system. Fix your gut and you are on the path to reducing many of the chronic inflammatory diseases. 

Your gut has the largest interface with the environment. Your environment is comprised of a dynamic and modulating relationship with the foods you eat, the water you drink, the air you breathe, your exposure to toxins, the company you keep and the thoughts you generate. In essence, you are a complex and integrative set of systems. 

Your gut and brain are connected by a bi- directional pathway ( the Vagus Nerve ). Neurotransmitters play a huge role in the communication that drives this process. Bacteria ( microbiome ) interact with these neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, GABA, histamine, ATP, nitric oxide to name a few.

Serotonin produced in the gut doesn’t cross the blood-brain barrier. But it affects the vagus nerve connection.

Zonulin is  a protein that modulates the permeability of tight junctions in the intestinal wall.  This protein that has been linked to leaky gut and can cross the gut- brain barrier is activated by Gliadin which is found in gluten.  This process has been implicated in triggering inflammation and auto immune disease.

Amyloid plaque – the precursor to Alzheimer’s is a process that can actually start in the gut. It is characterized by a mis-folding of the protein. It appears that insulin resistance and glucose intolerance are the real drivers that initiate a microbiota imbalance. Yes, sugar is a real culprit in this disease. 

It’s vital to improve the blood-brain barrier. This can be done by building a robust immune system, increasing healthy forms of dietary fiber, which increases the microbial diversity in the gut and lowering  the intake of processeed foods, which contain damaging emulsifiers. Reduce gluten intake which helps control the affects of Zonulin on both gut wall integrity and the blood-brain barrier.

Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s were once considered a genetic disease. It has now been proven we can turn on or off the gene that is involved. Gut dsybiosis ( pathogenic micribiota ) is a real driver in these diseases as it travels up vagus nerve to the brain. Gut motility is a early sign ( along with constipation)

Gut dysbiosis – imbalance in bacteria. The mucosa becomes compromised leading to inflammation. This can be measured by increased cytokines and has been linked to depression and anxiety disorders. Therefore, important to build bacterial diversity and this gives the immune system greater strength and resilience.

The micrbiome plays a real big part in cognitive function decline and aging, which can be seen in and measured by malaise, depression and impaired mental and physical performance. The key is reduce gut inflammation which will help regulate neurotransmitter function – especially serotonin!

Serotonin very involved with mood, sleep (melatonin regulation), executive function, working memory, decision making and personality expression. Fix the gut and you fix the brain – without the need for pharmaceutical anti – depressants and all their side effects! 

Fixing the gut and the serotonin levels also impacts the other neurotransmitters like dopamine, GABA, norepinephrine etc..

Improving Cognitive Performance:

– understanding disease begins decades before it manifests itself. The decisions you make now will affect you later in life

– increase uptake of healthy fats like Omega 3 fatty acids ( salmon, sardines, flax seeds) which contain EPA and DHA. , coconut oil (MCT), extra virgin olive oil, and  grass fed butter and dairy. 

– be mindful of Omega 6 fatty acids which can be found in grain and wheat based foods, processed foods, canola, soybean and corn oils. Aim for around 6:1 ratio of Omega 6/3’s

– fix and build micobiota diversity in the gut with healthy dietary fiber, prebiotic and probiotic foods and minimize or removed processed foods.

Exercise for Cognition:

– benefits microbiota.

– can help wth epigenetic modulation (turning on or off gene expression).

– add in high intensity or interval training while building muscle not simply just aerobic / endurance training. 

– helps build BDNF protein which seems to help ward off cognitive decline and the onset of Alzheimer’s.