Would you believe that the bacteria in your gut could determine the health of your brain?
Dr. David Perlmutter asserts that theory in his most recent book, “Brain Maker.”
Dr. Perlmutter wowed and enlightened the crowd with his unique ideas when he spoke recently at our annual National Convention.
Today, we want to discuss Leaky Brain Syndrome and the connection between the mind and gut that could revolutionize our understanding of the causation and treatment of brain disorders.
First, what is leaky gut?
You may have heard of leaky gut before, but what does it actually mean?
Leaky Gut Syndrome occurs when the lining of the digestive tract becomes weakened or damaged so that larger food particles can pass through and enter your bloodstream.
Possible causes of leaky gut are gluten sensitivity, celiac disease, a bad diet of refined processed foods, and parasitic and bacterial infections. Any of these can damage the villi, the cells within the intestinal tract, that tighten to keep large food particles from entering the bloodstream.
When the villi become compromised, foods that have only partially been broken down enter the body and cause an immediate immune response, which can make a person ill without them actually being sick.
Enter Leaky Brain Syndrome
Likely following a leaky gut diagnosis is Leaky Brain Syndrome. This is because a leaky brain develops from similar causes, such as gluten sensitivity or infection. Stress, alcohol and drug abuse and environmental toxins are also causes of leaky brain.
Leaky Brain Syndrome occurs when the blood-brain barrier (BBB) is breached, similar to the lining of the digestive tract with leaky gut. The BBB is your brain’s gatekeeper, protecting the brain while allowing essential nutrients like water, glucose and amino acids in that are imperative for brain function.
If the BBB becomes permeable, the brain is susceptible to damage from heavy metals, bacteria, environmental toxins and other harmful substances.
“Any number of brain disorders is associated with breakdown of the BBB including infections, and even cancer,” Dr. Perlmutter said.
Numerous neurological conditions, like depression, ADD/ADHD, seizures, autism and chronic pain may be attributed to a leaky brain or leaky brain and gut combination.
An Optimistic Study
A research report was published in November 2014 in the Science Translational Medicine journal. Researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm found that mice that were “germ free,” meaning they did not have bacteria living in their intestines, had significantly compromised blood-brain barriers.
When these mice received a fecal transfer, introducing bacteria from a healthy mouse into their intestines, the permeability of the BBB noticeably improved.
“The implications of being able to manipulate the health of the blood-brain barrier by making changes in the gut bacteria offers up, for the first time, a powerful therapeutic tool that may have incredibly wide application in brain disorders,” Perlmutter said in response to the study.
“This research adds further evidence to the notion that a wide array of human health issues may well depend upon the diversity and complexity of the array of bacteria that lives within the gut, known as our microbiome.”
Healing a Leaky Brain
As expected, treatment for leaky brain includes getting your gut health up to par. Starting a gluten-free diet and maintaining healthy blood sugar levels is the first step, followed by active stress management, exercise, Omega-3 supplements and some anti-inflammatory measures, if needed.
If you are worried that you may suffer from leaky gut and/or leaky brain, you should consult your primary care physician.
The research proving the gut-brain connection is still coming out, but many researchers and health-care professionals are hopeful that understanding this connection can help manage or even cure a number of diseases.
As Dr. Perlmutter puts it, “It is very humbling to consider that what seems to be emerging as our most powerful leverage point in terms of treating a variety of disease states may well rest in the hands of the hundred trillion bacteria that consider our bodies to be their home.”
Learn more about Dr. Perlmutter and his ideas on his website.