“Thanks in large part to dramatic and ongoing increases in understanding the brain-gut-microbiome connection, there is new hope for the treatment of many neurological conditions, from autism to Alzheimer’s to multiple sclerosis” Says Dale E. Bredesen, MD, Director of Alzheimer’s Disease Research, UCLA.
New research points to a continuous connection between the gut and the brain through the nervous system, the hormones, and the immune system. The gut is also home to trillions of tiny bacteria that release chemicals in order to communicate with the brain via the Vagus nerve.
These gut bacteria play an important role in regulating the immune system. Some of the gut bacteria also known as pathogenic bacteria can trigger the release of the inflammatory response that can lead to many chronic brain disorders. Conversely, the gut is also made up of “good bacteria” known as commensal organisms that have the opposite effect. The so called “good bacteria” keep the numbers of pathogenic bacteria under control and interact with the immune system by turning off the inflammatory response.
There are several ways in which these friendly bacteria can be protected:
- Avoid the use of antibiotics unless absolutely necessary. Antibiotics clearly change the gut microbiome since they are designed to kill bacteria.
- Avoid chlorinated water
- Add a variety of whole foods, fruits, vegetables, legumes
- Include Probiotics in your diet. Probiotics are the “good bacteria” that stimulate the natural digestive juices and keep the immune system functioning optimally.
Some of the probiotic foods include:
On top of the list is live-cultured yogurt. It is one of the best sources of lactic acid bacteria. When buying commercial brands, make sure they contain live culture and has no artificial sweeteners, flavors or high fructose corn syrup.
Similar to yogurt, this fermented dairy product is made from goat’s milk and is fermented with kefir grains. It is high in lactic acid bacteria.
Made from fermented cabbage, sauerkraut contains healthy live cultures and is a rich source of vitamins B, A, E and C.
Ocean-based plants such as spirulina, chorella, and blue-green algae are rich in probiotics and have been shown to increase the amount of Lactobacillus in the digestive tract.
Cucumber pickle is an excellent source of probiotics.
Foods that feed the good bacteria in the gut include:
- Bananas, blueberries and blackberries
Bananas, blueberries and blackberries reduce pathogenic bacteria in the gut that cause inflammation and restore health and harmony among microbes in the bacterial community.
- Polenta and oatmeal
Polenta and oatmeal’s insoluble fiber travels directly to the colon, where it ferments into numerous strands of gut flora.
- Cruciferous vegetables –Broccoli, kale, radish, cabbage and cauliflower
Cruciferous vegetables are broken down by gut microbes into glucosinolates, a natural component that reduce pathogenic bacteria in the gut and remove harmful molecules in the body including free radicals and heavy metal poisoning.
- Beans and legumes
Packed with fiber, protein, folate, and B vitamins, they play an important role in regulating a healthy gut and a healthy brain.