The Gut Brain Connection
So who loves a good piece of pie? How about a 5 scoops of ice cream milk shake? Any one love French fries? Well I do too. Those foods taste so good in our mouth but once downstream it spells trouble.
There is relatively new scientific data that is proving true what Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine said long ago which is that “All disease begins in the gut”. In other words: the health of your digestive system, directly affects the health and functioning of your brain.
Chinese medicine, which is over 2000 yrs. old, teaches that there is a gut brain. This is not a brain that uses words and language to process but has a direct energetic/intuitive connection with your reality, both internally and externally. Some have suggested it is the base of the mind/brain since it has direct connection with the CNS but can function independently when trained to do so i.e. in martial arts to remain calm under duress.
At the turn of the last century, Russian born physician and biologist Llya Mechinov who won a Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1908 said in his book The Prologation of Life: “good health depends on a kind of peaceful co-existence among all the symbiotic bacteria in the intestinal tract”. He also stressed the importance of a healthy intestinal microflora to achieve good health.
Now let’s here from some of today’s experts in this field: First, Certified Nutritionist, Master Herbalist and NeurOptimal brain trainer Kristine Morgan says “almost 80% of our immune system is in the gut and there are now published studies on the Gut/brain to Mind/Brain connection found on PubMed.com and elsewhere.
Most of our seratonin is found in the gut, so a gut out of balance results in a brain out of balance. There is a constant battle in the gut between good and bad bacteria for the nutrient rich mucosal lining of the digestive track. If there isn’t enough good bacteria, the bad bacteria will set up camp and disrupt the digestion of all four food groups, release toxins into the blood stream and eat away the lining of the gut. This can lead to IBS, Crohn’s disease, Colitis, Diverticulitis and Leaky Gut syndrome. The importance of the health of the gut brain cannot be overstated. It is the Mind/Brain’s first defense.”
Dr. David Perlmutter, a neurologist states in his book Brain Maker that “brain related diseases have risen dramatically with the US in the lead. Many debilitating neurological ailments across the lifecycle such as autism, ADHD, Migraines, depression, MS, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s are considered unpreventable and not curable by mainstream medicine. The statistics are quite alarming. Since 1979 studies show increases in brain disorders of 66% in men and 92% in women! 26% of those suffer from a diagnosed mental disorder. 1 in 10 of these suffer from depression. 25% are women age 40 to 60. “
Dr Perlmutter goes on to say “that 90% of all known human illness can be traced to the gut and that health and vitality also begin in the gut. He says studies “are beginning to find a link between depression and the health of the gut’s microbial residents”.
“All of the anti depressant meds currently on the market are designed to artificially alter the neurotransmitter activity in the brain. Yet, when we consider the fact that these same chemicals found in the brain are also produced in the gut and that their availability to the brain is largely governed by activity of gut bacteria we are forced to realize ground zero for all things mood-related is in the gut.”
“Gut microbes control the production of inflammatory chemicals in the body that factor into mental health and they control our ability to absorb necessary nutrients and fats also key to mental health.”
“As the growth of the pharmaceutical industry exploded, so did the promotion of the idea that depression and anxiety effect digestion. Poised to make big profits, the pharmaceutical companies, deemed early findings unscientific and replaced them with the opposite idea that the mind/brain only affects the gut/brain. They essentially reversed the early 20th century research findings about the gut brain affecting the health of the mind brain first. Now, 80 yrs. later research is coming full circle and the forefathers of medicine are being proven correct.
So what can you do to re-balance and maintain a healthy digestive system?
Well, there are several easy things you can do starting today.
First of all, every day, eat about 5 grams of prebiotic foods and fermented foods which contain probiotics or good bacteria.
Common prebiotic foods are Wild blueberries and raw asparagus, raw or cooked onion, raw garlic and acacia gum. A common fermented food is live culture yoghurt. Be sure to read the labels of both Greek and regular brands. Many are loaded with sugar, artificial sweeteners and flavors. Coconut /Soy yoghurt are available as dairy free options.
Pickles are a natural probiotic and can serve as a gateway to other more exotic fermented foods.
Kefir is a fermented drink and is available in cow milk or coconut milk for a non-dairy option. It’s best to look for the plain flavored choices which are low in sugar. You can blend in your own fruit.
Kombucha tea is fermented black tea. It has been used for centuries. It is fizzy and often served chilled. It may increase energy and help in weight loss.
Tempeh is fermented soybeans. Use sparingly as a condiment crumbled and added to salad or pasta. It is a complete protein and is high in B12.
Sauerkraut is fermented cabbage. It contains choline an important chemical needed for proper transmission of nerve impulses from the mind/brain to the CNS. It is necessary to eat it raw for it to have probiotics in it.
Various pickled fruits and veggies i.e. carrots and beets. The probiotic benefits are only present in unpasteurized foods pickled in brine not vinegar.
Cultured condiments i.e. lacto-fermented mayonnaise, mustard, horseradish, hot sauce, relish, salsa, guacamole and fruit chutney.
You can also eat fermented meats, fish and eggs i.e. corned beef, pickled sardines, and fermented hard boiled eggs.
In his book Brain Maker Dr. Perlmutter has recipes for all these foods and how to ferment them.
The 5 best strains of probiotics needed in a supplement are on the list and an explanation of each one and its’ benefits can be found in his book too.
The next thing is to make your daily diet rich with foods that nourish both the gut brain and the mind brain.
Many studies now show the importance of eating good fats from a variety of oils, meats, dairy foods., fruits and vegetables, seeds and nuts. Even coffee, tea, dark chocolate and red wine have all been found to nourish your brain when used in moderation.
Fats not carbs are the preferred fuel of human metabolism. A healthy digestive system can process good fats for the mind/brain, which needs healthy fats because it is made up of fatty tissue.
One more thing I recommend, of course, is NeurOptimal brain training. Among its’ many benefits the #1 reported benefit is support of the immune system. It also helps you think clearer to make better choices for yourself.
Essentially what this cutting edge neurofeedback technology does is give your brain information through feedback about how your CNS is disorganized so the brain can correct itself during the training. It is similar to holding a mirror up in front of the brain. It shows the CNS where it is disorganized and so stuck in overreacting or underperforming.
The CNS immediately begins to regulate itself back into a more balanced state. The training brings the CNS back to the present moment 256x/second so the effects are like meditation on steroids. Often people come out of the training feeling more clarity, very refreshed, deeply calm. The ongoing results after a series of 10 to 30 or more is an increased ability to make healthy choices for your self and an easier return to a sense of peace when the stresses of life knock you over. It is easier to stay motivated to make healthier choices.
“ A change in motivation is a change of mind and this will produce fundamental change because the mind is fundamental.”
From A Course In Miracles,
Q & A