“What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,” according to the adage. But when it comes to your health, the opposite sentiment should be applied. What happens in your gut plays a role in determining the health of your brain.
These seemingly unrelated parts of your body are actually intimately connected. What happens in your bowels determines the health of your brain—at least in part. There are multiple ways that gut health plays a role in maintaining a healthy brain. Here are a few:
1) The foods you eat, digest, absorb and assimilate will become the building blocks of every cell in your body, including those in your brain. If your digestion processes are impaired your body will lack adequate building blocks to maintain healthy brain and nervous system cells.
2) The gastrointestinal tract (GI) plays a huge part in your body’s immune response. It is one of the main determinants of the levels of inflammation in your body. Brain diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, dementia and others are increasingly being linked to inflammation; reducing inflammation is a key to brain disease prevention.
3) Probiotics found in the gut can function as antioxidants that destroy brain-damaging free radicals before they can cause harm. The brain particularly vulnerable to free radical damage, especially the sixty percent of our brain that is made up of fat.
4) Specific strains of probiotics may help to maintain brain health.
According to research published in the medical journal Nutrition Research, probiotic supplementation could help in the treatment of the brain disorders anxiety and depression. Other research suggests that the brain benefits of probiotic supplementation are sufficient to warrant inclusion in the treatment plans of those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
The use of probiotics as a potential treatment for brain disease is still in its infancy, but considering the lack of side effects, affordability and availability, as well as the many other health benefits of using them, it is a natural fit within a larger brain health maintenance plan or brain disease treatment plan.
Choose a high quality product with a range of probiotic strains with proven health benefits. Ideally take them on an empty stomach with some water. Choose one that contains a range of proven strains in the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria families. You’ll notice that these names are frequently shortened on product labels to L. and B. respectively. Lactobacillus acidophilus, L. bifidus, L. bulgaricus, and L plantarum are all shown to boost gut and brain health. Probiotics are measured in C.F.U.s which stands for colony forming units. Choose a product with 1 to 5 CFUs as of the expiration date, not the date of manufacture. The latter is actually a useless way to measure probiotic strength since they tend to deteriorate from the time they are first manufactured.
Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM is an international best-selling and 20-time published book author whose works include: Boost Your Brain Power in 60 Seconds: The 4-Week Plan for a Sharper Mind, Better Memory, and Healthier Brain.