Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Gut - Brain Connection

I have read a lot lately about the "gut-brain" connection, that is the level of healthy bacteria within the gut and proper (or lack of) brain development in humans.  Some of today's leading researchers in the field, like Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, are highlighting the importance of a healthy gut and how the state of your gut influences the state of your overall health.

It's not necessarily 'new news' that a healthy gut equals a healthy immune system, since the majority of your immune systems is located within your gut, but what scientists and researchers are now finding out is that there is a microscopic world of its own going on right now in each and every one of us.  And it's the communication and interaction between gut flora and the countless colonies of healthy bacteria throughout the body, or our "inner ecosystem" as its being called, that is the hot topic within the field.  And it's this communication between the two that has researchers like Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride convinced that many if not all of the mental disorders on the rise within our society originate within the gut.

"Your gut quite literally functions as your second brain, as it is created of the same tissue. During fetal development, one part turns into your central nervous system while the other develops into your enteric nervous system. These two systems are connected via the vagus nerve, the tenth cranial nerve that runs from your brain stem down to your abdomen."

As you probably know brain related disorders (Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, Depression, etc.) are increasingly on the rise in the U.S., with the latest numbers by the CDC showing 1 in every 50 children suffer from some form of Autism!  If that's not shocking and terribly frightening I don't know what is.  And more and more research is pointing to poor unhealthy gut development rather than genetics as the cause.

This means a 'Gut-Healthy' diet, one low in sugar and grains and high in fermented foods, is especially important for expecting mothers.  Brain and gut development starts before a child is born and with the typical American diet high in processed foods, sugar, and grains and nearly absent of bacteria friendly fermented foods, poor diet may just be playing a bigger role in the rapidly increasing number mental disorders and disabilities then previously thought.  Add to that the ever growing level of toxic exposure today's unborn and newly born children are being exposed to with vaccinations and antibiotic use on the rise, and the effects on this compromised immune system (gut) and its connection with the brain that can only spell disaster!

So what can you do?

  1. Start by eliminating the majority of processed foods from your diet, and making sure that any processed foods consumed are organic and contain the least amount of ingredients as possible.  
  2. Secondly, it is crucial to greatly reduce sugar consumption, while eliminating altogether any high fructose corn syrup as well as artificial sweeteners from your diet.  
  3. Next, start incorporating unpasteurized fermented foods like sauerkraut and kombucha into your diet.  
  4. Check out these sites: Caroline Barringer and Dr. Natasha

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