Boost Your Brain Through Your Gut

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Our gut and intestines are the mediators between our body and our environment. This is why we have trillions of bacteria located in the gut. Separated from our bloodstream by a single call wall, the intestines serve as the bloodstream barrier- allowing nutrients in while keeping bacteria and toxins out. But did you know your gut can effect your brain? This is another reason it’s important to focus on a healthy diet and your gut health. -All American Healthcare New Orleans


5 Ways to Boost Your Brain Through Your Gut

I am frequently asked how long it takes to rehabilitate a dysfunctional or underperforming microbiome.

Research shows that significant changes in the array of gut bacteria can take place in as little as six days after instituting a new dietary protocol, like the one I present in my book (the highlights of which I’m sharing here). But everyone is different; your Brain Maker rehab will depend on the current state of your gut and how quickly you commit to making changes.

1. Eat Foods Rich in Probiotics

Probiotics are live bacteria and yeast that support good digestive health. Long before probiotics became available in supplement form, the health benefits of fermented, probiotic-rich foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, and yogurt were well recognized. The Chinese were fermenting -cabbage 6,000 years ago.

The type of fermentation that makes most foods rich in beneficial bacteria is called lactic-acid fermentation. In this process, good bacteria convert sugar molecules in food into lactic acid, and, in doing so, the good bacteria multiply. This lactic acid, in turn, protects the fermented food from being invaded by pathogenic -bacteria because it creates an environment with a low pH. This kills off harmful bacteria, which has a higher pH.

While supplements are helpful, there’s still no better way to consume bifidobacteria and lactobacilli (some of the most important healthy bacteria in the gut) than to get them from food sources, which are easiest for the body to use.

These probiotic bacteria help maintain the integrity of the gut lining; serve as natural antibiotics, antivirals, and antifungals; regulate immunity; and control inflammation. They even improve nutrient absorption.

These are some of the best food sources for probiotics (for more ideas, visit “Probiotics at Work“):

Live-Culture Yogurt: Check the label to make sure your yogurt contains live cultures, and avoid products that are heavily sweetened. Coconut yogurt is an excellent alternative for people who are sensitive to dairy.

Kefir: A fermented-milk product that has a more liquid texture than yogurt.

Kombucha Tea: A tart, fizzy, fermented black tea.

Kimchi: Spicy, fermented vegetables that are Korean in origin. Kimchi is one of the best probiotic foods you can add to your diet.

Sauerkraut: Real, fermented sauerkraut (instead of cabbage soaked in vinegar) fuels healthy gut bacteria and contains choline, a chemical needed for proper transmission of nerve impulses from the brain through the nervous system. You can make your own real sauerkraut at home or find it in the refrigerated section of grocery stores.

Pickles: The most basic and beloved probiotic. As with sauerkraut, choose real, brined pickles that have been refrigerated.

2. Go Lower-Carb; Embrace High-Quality Fats

A diet that keeps your blood sugar balanced keeps your gut bacteria balanced. A diet high in rich sources of fiber from whole vegetables and fruits feeds good gut bacteria and produces the right balance of short-chain fatty acids to keep the intestinal lining in check. A diet that’s intrinsically anti-inflammatory is good for the brain.

Diets high in sugar and low in fiber fuel unwanted bacteria and increase the chances of intestinal permeability, mitochondrial damage, a compromised immune system, and widespread inflammation that can reach the brain. It’s a vicious cycle; all of these further disrupt our protective microbial balance.

We’ve been taught to demonize saturated fat. But coronary artery disease — a leading cause of heart attacks — may have more to do with inflammation than high cholesterol. And a great deal of research shows that when cholesterol levels are low, the brain simply doesn’t work well.

Studies of deceased patients with Alzheimer’s found significantly reduced amounts of fats in their cerebrospinal fluid compared with controls. People with low cholesterol are at much greater risk for neurological problems, including depression and dementia.

I have a host of recipes in my book, but here’s the cheat sheet: Make your main entrée mostly fibrous vegetables and fruits that grow above ground, with protein as a side dish. Far too often people think that a low-carb diet is all about eating copious amounts of meat. Much to the contrary, an ideal plate in the Brain Maker protocol is a sizeable portion of vegetables (two-thirds of your plate) and about 3 to 4 ounces of protein. You’ll get your fats from those naturally found in the protein, from butter and olive oil used to prepare the dish, and from nuts and seeds.

3. Enjoy Chocolate, Coffee, Wine, and Tea

You can rejoice in the fact that, as far as your brain’s health is concerned, you can embrace chocolate, coffee, and wine in moderation, and tea to your heart’s desire.

Research abounds concerning dark chocolate’s benefits. In one study, Italian researchers demonstrated that in elderly individuals suffering mild cognitive impairment, those who consumed the highest level of flavonols (one category of polyphenols) from cocoa and chocolate showed heightened cognitive function.

Other studies have shown that consuming flavonols leads to improved blood flow to the brain, which is typically diminished in dementia patients.

Like chocolate, coffee supports a healthy balance of gut flora and exhibits anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Coffee and chocolate also stimulate a specific gene pathway called the Nrf2 pathway. When triggered, it causes the body to make higher levels of protective antioxidants, while reducing inflammation and enhancing detoxification. Other Nrf2 activators are green tea, turmeric, and resveratrol, a compound in red wine.

On that note, Spanish researchers have found that LPS levels, a marker for both inflammation and intestinal permeability, were dramatically reduced in individuals who consumed red wine in moderation (one to two glasses per day).

Polyphenols found in black tea are now being explored for their ability to positively influence gut microbial diversity. They’ve been shown to increase bifidobacteria, which help stabilize gut permeability. Green tea has also been shown to increase bifidobacteria and to lower levels of potentially harmful bacteria species.

4. Consume Foods Rich in Prebiotics

Prebiotics are food-borne fuel for the beneficial bacteria that live in the gut, and they occur naturally in raw garlic, cooked and raw onions, leeks, chicory, Jerusalem artichokes, and jicama. Estimates suggest that for every 100 grams of prebiotic carbohydrates we consume, a full 30 grams of good gut bacteria are produced.

Prebiotics have many additional benefits, including the ability to reduce inflammation in inflammatory-bowel disorders, enhance mineral absorption, and promote a sense of satiety. Animals given prebiotics produce less ghrelin, the hormone that signals the brain that it’s time to eat.

5. Drink Filtered Water

Consuming plenty of water is important to intestinal health, but it’s critical that the water doesn’t contain gut-busting chemicals like chlorine. Environmental toxins can disrupt the microbiome and disturb brain physiology.

I recommend using a household water filter. There are a variety of home water-treatment technologies available, from simple filtration pitchers to under-sink units with a separate spigot. Make sure the filter you buy removes chlorine as well as other contaminants, and be sure to maintain and change it regularly.

Finally, ditch plastic water bottles and choose reusable bottles made from stainless steel or glass instead.

Full, original article: Experience Life

Boost Your Brain Through Your Gut

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