Many years ago, during my residency I attended a conference from DAN the now historical “Defeat Autism Now” foundation. That organization underwent a lot of challenges and was eventually dismantled. However, much of what it started continued to evolve into other academic organizations, like functional medicine, integrative medicine, and any other organization that treats the body and mind as an integrated system. Any organization that considers diet essential to health is in alignment with the gut-brain pathway.
We almost take that all for granted now, but in medical school, this had not been taught. The Gastrointestinal system and the Neurology system (which includes the brain) were completely separate biological systems and were treated as such. And as far as nutrition, well we got an hour or two on this subject and more, so we were instructed how to write an order for a nutritional consultation. There were basically two diets to offer, a diabetic diet or a cardiovascular diet, which focused on reduction of sugar, salt and/or fats.
A landmark paper in 20111 describing the gut-brain pathway was released and basically stated that what the gut metabolized and absorbs goes into the blood stream and that same blood flows to the brain. In 2016 another landmark paper addressed the Gut Dysbiosis – brain function and mental illness pathway. All this was and is not rocket science, but it remains challenging for many to embrace. These paper help to describe a linear association regarding the quality of gut function and directly our brain function, which directly affects our mind and mood and energy.
Reminder, the mind is like the light that comes out of a flashlight… lower battery, low illumination.
Wow! Simple but yet can be complex for many.
Since the papers were released, a lot of science has gone into improving the “gut health.” We hear about pre-biotics, probiotics, lipid-based products, liposomal vitamins. The industry has exploded because the studies about the gut-brain pathways were and are valid. The science has even demonstrated that neurotransmitter in the brain are tied into specific microbes in the gut. Some current studies are exploring how to generate those microbes for specific brain function!?
However, humans are brilliant and dynamic we have been around a long time. We can even date healthy diets back to Solomon, perhaps Moses, perhaps Hippocrates or Aristotle, Darwin, Einstein and ask ourselves were they using lipid based, liposomal supplements? Probably not. They, for he most part ate what was available in their region, balanced with fruits and vegetables and kept physically active.
We are best to embrace all the new science, but let’s start and keep with the basics, green leafy vegetables and colorful vegetables and fruit. When it comes to animal protein, (meat, fish, chicken) limit it to 25% of protein intake, take in whole grain and plant protein as well.
Trust that your gut can do the reset much of itself. That plant based and organic (ground grown) foods have been around a long time. Microbes grow, much on their own with the right fertilizer.
There are other aspects to health and a healthy gut, Blood circulation for one, no movement no metabolize, so exercise including moving the body and the abdominal muscles are key. This helps with the mechanic of peristalsis of gut movement and absorption rate.
Whole body movement like walking, swinging arms and legs helps or swimming and core muscle work with sits up, squats and or YOGA definitely helps.
This is a systemic approach to gut, body, and brain health.
And sure, we can add pre and probiotics as well as amended supplements, but you must do the foundational work as well.
MAY ALL LOVE AND LIGHT ILLUMINATE YOUR LIFE.
– – – – – SOURCES – – – – –
(1) GUT feelings: the emerging biology of gut-brain communication; Mayer, E.A., Nature Review/Neuroscience VOL 12/August 2001.
(2) From gut dysbiosis to altered brain function and mental illness: mechanism and pathways; GB Rogers, DJ Keating, RL Young, M-L Wong, J Licinio, S. Wesselingh, Molecular Psychiatry 21, 738-748, 2016