Our Second Brain

The completion of the Human Genome Project has ushered in many new disciplines in science & research. One of the many exciting discoveries is just how important our gut is in overall health & well being. Many are referring to the gut as our “second brain” because of how it feeds everything from our brains to our skin.

Enteric Neural Science is what I’m referring to here, this area of study has only come out in the last 10 years. Embedded in the wall of our gut lies a separate nervous system that is so complex it has been dubbed the second brain, the Enteric Nervous System. The focus here is how the environment of our intestines affects our nerves & messages going to our brains. Our gut produces a wide array of hormones & neurotransmitters, some of the same classes as those found in the brain. Of these neurotransmitters, the main four you might have heard of before are Serotonin, Dopamine, Acetylcholine & Gaba.

All but one of our neurotransmitters is made from amino acids from the proteins we consume. Some are made entirely by our bodies & some are converted by the biologic machinery we have.

This is why what we put into our bodies is so important. It’s our neurotransmitters that guide our brain function. So if our gut is out of balance we might be high strung at times or depressed. Being in a depressed state will affect the function of our intestines, which affects the production of nerve hormones; which affects brain function. You see how this can be problematic?

Every single cell in our body is connected to the neural tree, made up of the food we eat.

Instead of thinking about food as carbs, fats, proteins, sugars, or calories. We should think of it like information. The food we eat talks to our genes & it can either be inflammatory or health provoking. It can sustain & maintain excellent health over a life time.

We require all the macronutrients (protein, fat & carbs) to make all parts of neurotransmitters for proper function. So foods that have things like anti-nutrients or any kind of dietary neurotoxin like phytic-acid, lectins, excessive caffeine, nicotine, vitamin/mineral depletion & alcohol can all affect neurotransmitter production.

I know what your thinking, “alcohol”! Yes alcohol, but don’t worry there are ways to combat the toxic affects of alcohol, more on this later.

The more we learn the more apparent it becomes that our digestive system sends way more messages to our brain then our brain does to our digestive system. In fact, 95% of the bodies serotonin is produced & housed in the gut, not the brain. Serotonin is one of our neurotransmitters that’s responsible for our mood. If serotonin levels are low we can experience anxiety & depression. Low serotonin levels are also associated with decreased immune system function.

Since the discovery that problems with the Enteric Nervous System are implicated in all sorts of conditions means the second brain deserves a lot more recognition than it has had in the past.







The Gluten Free Revolution

Well friends the information I’m gonna share with you is hard to take. I’m gonna do my best to not get too technical. Sad but true that one of our favorite foods is really taking a tole on everyone of us.

Gluten is not digestible by any human –Dr. Alessio Fasano.

Wheat & gluten containing grains like barley & rye are not digestible by 100% of humans. You see, when we ingest food we have an array of digestive enzymes in our saliva glands, stomach, pancreas & small intestine. Those enzymes are responsible for breaking down food into nutrients: amino acids (from proteins), fatty acids and cholesterol (from fats), sugars from carbohydrates as well as vitamins & minerals.

We can’t do this completely with Gluten. The composition of amino acids is unusual & we don’t have the enzymes to deal with this protein. Unfortunately it’s the same protein that gives elasticity to our favorite foods like bread, pizza, & pastas. The wheat plant that we have today despite common misconception is not gmo, rather it’s a result of hybridization that has gone on since the beginning of agriculture. Gluten containing grains have changed over the centuries. Ancient grains had a much lower concentration of gluten than we have today. Now, roughly thirty to forty percent of the dry weight is all gluten. While a few centuries ago it was half of that

What does this mean? Well because the body doesn’t recognize this strange protein, it considers it to be a foreign invader (Antigen). Our immune system responds by ramping up production of Immune cells called antibodies. We can look at these antibodies like soldiers. Our antibodies are designed to bind to foreign invaders & excrete them in our bowel movements. Now, in some people these soldiers will stay in the gut & fight the battle. The collateral damage will be inflammation in the gut which brings about a whole host of symptoms including: GI issues, irritability, lack of energy, poor sleep, to name a few. There are other people where these soldiers are programmed to leave the intestine & go somewhere else. They can go to our joints & cause joint pain. They can go to our nerves & cause peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage). They can go to our skin & cause rashes or itchy, stinging, & blistering skin. Even psoriasis.

In the worst case, these antibodies bound together with these partially digested gluten molecules can go to our brains & cause inflammation there. As you can imagine this can be catastrophic. If not addressed, this inflammation can cause Head aches, Depression, Anxiety, Seizures, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Dementia, Schizophrenia, etc.

There can also be a Non-immune nutritional deficiency from malabsorption.

You see, this isn’t only a GI condition & it’s not limited to Celiac disease like most people think. This is why Genes are so important, it’s all dictated by our Genetic makeup. Well, there’s a few other factors involved & I will elaborate on them over the next few blogs. Luckily we have the power to change a few of them & I’ll get to that.

There are so many pieces to this puzzle & I plan on giving you all of them.

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