The Body Ecology Diet (BED) Column
......with Donna Gates
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Tuesday, September 6th, 2011:
How to Protect Your Brain from Aging
The Ultimate Anti-Aging Secret!
Whatever you do in life that brings you joy and a sense of fulfillment requires your brain. In fact, every action that you have taken in life, what you are doing right now, and what you will be doing in the future depends on brain function.
The key to a healthy brain is a healthy gut, and after years of research, Donna Gates has created a program that is the necessary foundation to both.
The Gut-Brain Axis You Must Understand
The gut-brain axis relationship involves the enteric nervous system (ENS) and the central nervous system (CNS).
- The enteric nervous system is embedded in the lining of the gut.
- The enteric nervous system contains around 100 million neurons.
- 80%-95% of the body’s serotonin is produced and found in the gut.
- Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, so you would think it would be more abundant in the brain.
Dr. Michael Gershon is known for bringing these details to light in his book, The Second Brain. The gut, essentially, has a mind of its own and is in constant dialogue with the central nervous system. This cross-talk between the gut and the brain is known as the gut-brain axis.
The gut and the brain are connected by the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is an open line of communication between the central nervous system (the brain) and the enteric nervous system (the gut). When either the gut or the brain experiences an inflammatory response, the other will follow suit.
This is one reason why inflammation is often referred to as fire. Because it can spread quickly like fire and go systemic. Which often happens when either the gut or the brain are involved in an inflammatory response. Besides the obvious signs of heat and swelling, the inflammatory response often triggers a self-perpetuating cycle of oxidative stress and cell destruction.
If your gut is in a state of stress, the chances are that your brain is in a state of stress.
If your gut is leaky and inflamed, over time this can activate the immune system. Because the enteric nervous system is so connected to the central nervous system, fire in the intestines can go systemic:
- This can trigger a whole-body alarm response.
- Once this happens, the integrity of the blood brain barrier weakens.
- Over time and with chronic stress, the blood brain barrier becomes permeable.
- The blood brain barrier, as the name implies, protects the brain.
Again, this is another vicious cycle because it opens the door for more inflammation.
What to Know About the Brain and Aging
Many times, longevity or anti-aging clinics will focus on hormone function in order to slow down the aging process. But when we talk about aging, what we are really talking about is neurodegeneration.
Neurodegeneration is the progressive loss of structure or function of neurons. Losing neurons happens naturally as time progresses. Neurodegeneration is paired with fatigue, depression, and digestive issues.
Sometimes we can speed up the process of neurodegeneration without even knowing it. As researchers continue to dig for answers, scientists have already discovered how the immune system, which is mainly housed in the gut, is tied to neurodegeneration:
- A link between infectious disease, such as Herpes Simplex Virus 1 (HSV1) and neurodegeneration. (1)(2)(3)
- A connection between systemic inflammation and neurodegeneration. Systemic inflammation is found in autoimmune conditions and in those with a permeable gut wall.
- That traumatic brain injury leads to a rapid decline in neurological function.
Did you know that injury to the brain also injures the gut?
Much of the research into the brain has revealed a direct and profound link between the brain and the gut. This is called the gut-brain axis.
Some studies highlight what happens during an acute head injury. (4) As incredible as it sounds, an injury to the head will injure the gut! Just after a traumatic brain injury or a stroke:
- An inflammatory response occurs in the brain.
- This creates oxidative stress.
- Oxidative stress is followed by abnormal enzyme secretion in the gut.
- This can lead to gastric ulcers.
Did you know that injury to the gut also injures the brain?
Studies have also shown that impaired gut function can lead to impaired brain function. Impaired gut function could be:
- An identified gluten sensitivity.
- Celiac disease.
- A permeable gut lining: “leaky gut”.
Impaired gut function has been linked to antibodies that are triggered by neurons! While this sounds like a type of autoimmunity, the biggest concern is the tissue damage associated with antibody attack and the inflammatory response that follows. Once neurons become a target for an immune response, the brain rapidly degenerates. (5)(6)(7)
How do we protect the gut, protect the brain, and stop neurodegeneration?
In order to protect the gut and the brain, it is essential to:
1. Heal the Gut: Body Ecology has created steps that can be tailored to each individual and that address issues of systemic infection, parasites, blood sugar imbalances, and immune dysregulation.
Using the basics provided in the Core Program is a good place to start.
- Incorporate good bacteria, as these good guys help cool the inflammatory response. (8) Do this with traditionally fermented foods or with Body Ecology fermented beverages.
- Get glutamine into the diet. Glutamine has been found in several studies to heal and repair the intestinal microvilli. (9) Body Ecology Vitality SuperGreen has GlutImmune, which delivers up to 10 times more glutamine into the bloodstream than supplemental L-glutamine. GlutImmune is just as bioavailable and stable as the glutamine found in bone broth, so it is a good alternative if pressed for time.
2. Manage Your Stress Response: Whatever it takes to raise cortisol levels is stressful. Stress can include lack of sleep, a cup of coffee in the morning, or overtraining at the gym. Stress can be:
When cortisol levels rise, the body becomes more acidic. The Body Ecology Principle of Acid and Alkaline tells us that when the body becomes acidic, it is prime real estate for pathogenic microorganism overgrowth. Remember, these are inflammatory agents and can lead to permeability.
- Body Ecology’s Ancient Earth Minerals and Vitality SuperGreen assist in keeping the body alkaline.
- Follow Body Ecology’s Principle of Food Combining and Principle of 80/20 in order to keep your diet alkaline.
What to Remember Most About This Article:
The digestive system is uniquely related to the central nervous system. When the digestive walls become inflamed, the blood brain barrier also becomes inflamed. Anti-aging is about protecting the brain and limiting neurodegeneration. One way to do this is to make sure the gastrointestinal tract is in optimum health! Food is an everyday choice.
- Choose anti-inflammatory and alkalizing foods.
- Follow the seven principles of the Body Ecology Diet.
- Reduce stress and breathe deeply.
- Wozniak MA, et al. J Pathol. 2009;217(1):131-8.
- Letenneur L, et al. PLoS One. 2008; 3(11):e3637.
- Itzhaki R, et al. J Alzheimers Dis. 2008 May;13(4):393-405.
- “Hypothalamic Dysfunction in Acute Head-Injured Patient’s with Stress Ulcer.” Kaohsiung J Med Sci. 1998. Sept; 14 (9): 554 - 60.
- Neuromuscular Disorder as a Presenting Feature of Celiac Disease. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 1997; 63: 770 – 775.
- “Brain-White-Matter Lesions in Celiac Disease: A Prospective Study.” Pediatrics. 2001; 108.
- Mayo Clinic (2006, October 12). Mayo Clinic Discovers Potential Link Between Celiac Disease And Cognitive Decline. ScienceDaily.
- P. A. Swanson, A. Kumar, S. Samarin, M. Vijay-Kumar, K. Kundu, N. Murthy, J. Hansen, A. Nusrat, A. S. Neish. Enteric commensal bacteria potentiate epithelial restitution via reactive oxygen species-mediated inactivation of focal adhesion kinase phosphatases. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2011; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1010042108
- Ziegler, Thomas Ra. Glutamine and the gastrointestinal tract. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care. September 2000. Vol. 3; 5. 355-362.
Learn more from The Body Ecology Diet book: