Western medicine is considered to be in its infancy and so it’s of no surprise that researchers are making new discoveries daily, throwing out the old theories and adjusting their understanding of the workings of the body anew! In the Brain Maker, Dr. David Perlmutter, MD brings together some of the relevant ‘old’* knowledge of the workings of the brain combined with the most recent research findings for a novel look at the brain and its interrelationship to other organs, most specifically the digestive system (aka the gut).
Although the book is well rounded in its discussion on a number of mental disorders from anxiety and depression to Multiple sclerosis and autism and the many factors that contribute to the development of these disorders, the star of the book is bacteria. That’s right! The tiny living organisms that live inside our bodies. These bacteria, the good ones known as probiotics (eg.Bacteroidetes) are considered to contribute to:
the integrity of the intestinal wall which if disrupted can lead to immune dysfunction, leading to inflammation and ultimately the many brain disorders discussed.
Eg. With increased gut permeability a pattern of higher levels of LPS in the blood is observed. LPS is an inflammatory molecule that is produced by bacteria and is only found in the blood in individuals with ‘leadky gut’.
Eg. PPA (propionic acid) produced by Clostridia is toxic to the brain. PPA increases gut permeability by weakening the tight junctions that hold the cells of the intestinal lining together. Once in the bloodstream, PPA activates the immune system by turning on inflammation. Researchers at our own hometown university of Western Ontario have been investigating how certain bacteria like Clostridia may interfere with brain development and function and the author of these studies, Dr. Derrick MacFabe calls these bad bugs “infectious causes of autism.”
The disturbers of the environment considered conducive to the growth and flourishing of the helpful bacteria according to the author are: Sugar, Gluten, Antibiotics, Birth control pill, and NSAIDS.
The dietary and environmental factors that could help provide the best environment for the bacteria are: Good fats (including butter and coconut oil), prebiotics (onion, garlic, etc.), probiotics (fermented foods like yogurt/kefir, sauerkraut, pickled vegetables/fruits, tempeh, Kombucha, etc.), and a diet high in vegetables, small amounts of fruits, meats and very little grains (Zero gluten containing grains like wheat, barley, rye).
I hope this very basic summary of the book entices and encourages you all to browse this book as it has a number of very practical means through which many psychological/neurological and brain disorders can be prevented! For example, did you know that consumption of 1/2 cup of plain natural yogurt has been shown to lower anxiety?!
As the author summarizes:
“Throughout this book, I’ve made connections between conditions that you may not have initially thought were related to one another, such as the link between diabetes and dementia. I’ve also shared insights into common denominators in most brain ailments, notably inflammation.
Inflammation IS the root cause of the chronic disorders plaguing society today. More on inflammation in the following posts:
*Old because medical knowledge is in a constant flux towards new understandings and so even a belief held only less than a decade ago is usually considered obsolete.