May 25, 2015

320 Our Gut Microbiome & Our Brain [25 May 2015]

Last fall (#287 & #288) I discussed how our gut microbiome (the bacteria in our intestines) affect our health in many ways, and how it in turn is affected by our diet and lifestyle choices.

In his new 2015 book Brain Maker, the Power of Gut Microbes to Heal and Protect your Brain – For Life, neurologist Dr. David Perlmutter expands on this idea with new research into the relationship between our microbiome and our brain health. The book discusses the gut microbiome’s effect on: inflammation; mood disorders like depression; diabetes and obesity; and neurological disorders like autism, ADHD, Parkinson’s, MS and Alzheimer’s.

These bacteria living in our digestive tract make up 99% of the DNA in our bodies, and affect our health in several ways:
• manufacture neurochemicals like dopamine and serotonin, and vitamins like B12;
• maintain the integrity of the gut lining preventing “leaky gut syndrome”; and
• control switches that can turn our own genes on or off.

Leaky gut and inflammation seems to be the keys to the common brain disorders mentioned above. Gut permeability can be measured by measuring levels of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) antibodies – higher blood levels indicate a leaky gut. Strong correlations have been found between LPS levels and many of these chronic disorders, including diabetes. Correlation of course doesn’t necessarily mean causation, but Dr. Perlmutter made some interesting observations after correcting gut flora with fecal transplants (see #243) in a few case studies: Carlos, a 43 year old man with MS who could barely walk with two canes, could now walk unaided; and Jason, a 10 year old boy with severe autism showed remarkable improvements.

While our own DNA has changed little in thousands of years, we can change the 99% of the DNA in our bodies that are found in the gut microbiome in a matter of days – and in so doing significantly reduce our risk for these neurological conditions – simply by changing our diets. More about this in a future article.

Sources: Dr. Perlmutter interview (1 hour)

For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

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