Brain Maker by David Perlmutter – $16.38 (via Amazon)
That’s probably the best word I can think of to describe ‘Brain Maker’, the latest book by Neurologist David Perlmutter, author of ‘Grain Brain’. This books explores in-depth (but not too in-depth) the intricate relationship our gut microbiome has with our brain, and how early exposure to antibiotics, and consumption of the wrong foods, can throw this dangerously out of balance.
It’s hard to fathom, but the little bacteria that live in our gut assist in everything from digestion, keeping toxins out of the bloodstream, detoxifying, building immunity, producing and releasing important enzymes and chemicals that promote health, fighting stress, sleeping, and controlling inflammation. The array of 10,000 or so distinct species that live together in our gut are the front line into our body. Think of them as bodyguards that, once they’ve determined a particle is ok to enter the body, they knock on the door so the particle can get in. But if the microbiota balance is disturbed through poor dietary habits, the bugs that need to be kept in check are allowed to flourish. When this happens the bodyguards are overwhelmed, and all of a sudden sinister particles make their way through the gut lining.
This is called leaky gut. And guess what? Leaky gut can cause leaky brain. That’s right. When gut integrity is lost, this can cause the blood brain barrier to loose integrity. And when harmful particles start reaching your brain, inflammation, neuron death, and bad neurological diseases start developing. I told you it was fascinating… and scary.
The integrity of the gut breaking down, and subsequent invasion of inflammatory substances into the body, can affect a multitude of symptoms and diseases, including:
- Mood Disorders (anxiety & depression)
- Joint pain and arthritis
- Chronic skin and yeast problems
- Tourette syndrome
… just to name a few. In fact, the balance of bacteria in your gut can affect the way certain genes express themselves within your DNA. Having a higher level of Firmicutes, one of the most common bacteria in our gut, can actually turn on genetic expressions for obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
In ‘Brain Maker’, Dr. Perlmutter sites study after study by doctors, universities, and research scientists linking microbiota imbalance to inflammation and disease. He also provides several examples of his own patients, from kids with Autism spectrum disorders to adults with Multiple Sclerosis, that have seen impressive improvements in symptoms by aggressively re-balancing their guts. Some of the aggressive tactics are extreme, like probiotic enemas, and even fecal microbiota transplants (yes, that is a thing), but luckily he also dispenses valuable advice on how to balance and maintain a healthy gut through food and supplements.
If you are looking for a way to change your health for the better I’d highly recommend reading ‘Brain Maker’. It will give you an entirely new appreciation for all the little critters that make their homes in us, and likely make you want to take care of them a little bit better.
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