Brain Maker: The Power of Gut Microbes to Heal and Protect Your Brain

Brain Maker Book Cover

There is a lot of science and research in this book. All of it are fascinating. I have been a fan of neuroscientist David Perlmutter ever since his book Grain Brain. He mentions fasting and a specific diet for a healthy gut as tools for a healthy brain. I dabbled with fasting and the healthy gut protocol – both of which have improved my cognitive function, skin health, and sleeping.

Notes:

The Greek physician and father of modern medicine, Hippocrates, the first said in the third century B.C.E., All disease begins in the gut.

In the nineteenth century, it was the Russian-born biologist and Nobel Laureate Elie Mechnikov who made a stunningly direct link between human longevity and a healthy balance of bacteria in the body, confirming that “death begins in the colon.”

Our Gut Bacteria

The complex community of flora that thrives within our gut. It has been estimated that at least 10,000 distinct species cohabit the human gut, some experts argue that this number may exceed 35,000.

Collected together, the bacteria in your gut would weigh about three to four pounds, about the same weight as your brain.

Our intestinal organisms participate in a wide variety of physiologic actions, including immune system functioning, detoxification, inflammation, neurotransmitter and vitamin production, nutrient absorption, signaling being hungry or full, and utilizing carbohydrates and fat.

Everything about our health – how we feel both emotionally and physically – hinges on the state of our microbiome.

There is no other system in the body is more sensitive to changes in gut bacteria than the central nervous system, especially the brain.

Anyone can change the state of their microbiome – and fate of their health – through dietary choices.

Gut bacteria and the Brain

Scientists are just learning that the intimate relationship between your gut and brain is actually bidirectional: Just as your brain can send butterflies to your stomach, your gut can relay its state of calm or alarm to the nervous system.

The vagus nerve, the longest of the twelve cranial nerves, is the primary channel of information between hundreds of millions of nerve cells in our intestinal nervous system and our central nervous system.

80 to 90% of the amount of serotonin in your body is manufactured by the nerve cells in your gut.

Gut bacteria and the immune system

Your gut has its own immune system, the gut associated lymphatic tissue (GALT). It represents 70 to 80% of your body’s total immune system. This speaks volume about the importance and vulnerability of your gut.

Inflammation

The two key mechanisms that lead to brain degeneration are chronic inflammation and the action of free radicals, which for now you can think of as byproducts of inflammation that cause the body to rust.

Diseases and conditions like Alzheimer’s, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular disease, Chron’s disease, and asthma are caused by inflammation.

Gut bacteria helps control inflammation.

Three forces working against the gut bacteria

  1. Exposure to substances that kill or otherwise adversely change the composition of the bacterial colonies. (e.g. sugar, gluten chlorine, antibiotics).
  2. Lack of nutrients that support healthy, diverse tribes of bacteria.
  3. Stress

Dietary recommendation for healthy gut:

  1. Prebiotics
    • Raw garlic
    • Raw leek
    • Raw or cooked onion
    • Raw asparagus
  1. Probiotics
    • Plain yoghurt (no added sugar, artificial sweeteners, artificial flavors)
  2. Fermented foods
  • Kimchi,
  • Sauerkraut
  • Kefir
  • Kombucha tea
  • Tempeh
  • Pickles
  • Pickled fruits and vegetables
  • Fermented meat, fish, and eggs
  1. Low-carb foods
    • Vegetables (kale, chard, cabbage, lettuce, mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, green beans
    • Low-sugar fruit (avocado, bell peppers, cucumber, tomato, zucchini, squash, pumpkin, eggplant, lemons, limes)
  2. Gluten-free food
  3. Healthful fat
    • Omega-3 fats such as olive oil, fish oil, flaxseed oil
  4. Fasting
  5. Supplement with
    • Turmeric, coconut oil, alpha-lipoic acid, vitamin D