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  • Writer's pictureOrina Ontiri

Gut Bacteria & Its Role In Brain Health

New York Times #1 best-selling author Dr. David Perlmutter is a board-certified neurologist and Fellow of the American College of Nutrition. He lectures worldwide on the important roles of nutrition and other lifestyle choices in brain health. His new book Brain Maker, reveals the powerful role of probiotic gut bacteria in brain health and is filled with practical, user-friendly advice that will pave the way better brain function and enhanced resistance to brain related diseases.

Modern medicine seems to be taking the notion of reductionism to a whole new level. Medical disciplines are becoming more and more specialized and this continues to foster the notion that individual body parts and systems function independent of one another. Clearly, this mentality stands in stark contradistinction to the idea of holism as it relates to health and wellness. A holistic perspective is one that celebrates the interrelationships between body systems and embraces the notion that optimal health will result when this approach is leveraged.

Fortunately, leading edge research in mainstream medical journals is now recognizing, for example, a powerful interrelationship that exists between the gut and the brain. It has now become quite evident, that the gut is a microbiome, meaning the gut bacteria and their genetic material exert powerful influence over various domains of metabolism that play a critical role in both brain health and functionality.

It is now well recognized that the process of inflammation plays a pivotal role in every manner of nontraumatic neurological diseases including Alzheimer’s disease, autism, Parkinson’s disease, depression, and multiple sclerosis to name a few. So, with the understanding that the human microbiome strongly influences the “set point” of inflammation, the care and feeding of the microbiome takes on a new level of importance.

Recently, there is been a lot of interest in exploring the activity of various probiotic organisms in terms of there is effects upon systemic inflammation. This research has been extended to evaluating how certain species of probiotics organisms actually affect the brain. And the results have been compelling.

But beyond looking at specific species and even strains of commercially available probiotic organisms, it’s also important to take a step back and recognize thatprebiotics, products that enhance the growth of beneficial gut organisms, are also worthy of consideration in discussions related to brain health.

One of the most exciting prebiotics that is getting a lot of attention is the gum of the acacia tree known as gum Arabic or acacia gum. Oral supplementation with gum arabichas been demonstrated to significantly increase populations of health supporting  Bifidobacteria as well as Lactobacilli species when compared to inulin, a prebiotic commonly used in commercial nutritional products. In addition, gum Arabic has been shown to decrease potentially threatening species such as Clostridium difficile.

Another role for prebiotics is to serve as a substrate for the bacterial production of important metabolic chemicals known as short chain fatty acids. Butyrate is a short chain fatty acid that has been described as representing the “preferred fuel” for the cells lining the colon. And research confirms that acacia gum has a fairly dramatic ability to enhance the production of this important metabolic fuel.

Prebiotic fiber products are gaining more and more attention, and for good reason. By augmenting the growth of immune balancing, inflammation reducing probiotics organisms, as well as enhancing the production of metabolically important short chain fatty acids, incorporating prebiotic foods into diet offers up significant health benefits. Foods rich in prebiotics include Jerusalem artichoke, onions, garlic, jicama, and dandelion greens. To gain a more complete understanding of the role of gut microbes and the effect of certain foods on our gut and brain, pre-order Brain Maker on Amazon now.

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