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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.

 

 

 

 

 

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Wheat & It’s Role In Anxiety

Could it be that our breads, pastas, & cerials are at the root of everything from anxiety, depression & migraines to autism, Crohn’s & diabetes. Everyday papers & studies are emerging confirming just how bad this stuff really is. With the threat of GMO’s at a all time high, the stakes have never been greater.

There is no dietary requirement for wheat/grains, yet in most cases it makes up the majority of our diets today. A lot of the time people can eliminate just this one thing & feel a dramatic improvement in mental clarity, energy, mood & even sleep. That is, if your sleeping well now, are you sleeping well? We never stop & ask ourselves how we feel, how we think, or how we sleep. There is a lot to be said for getting adequate quality sleep regularly. If I could sell quality sleep in a bottle I would be rich!

In my previous blog I went into detail about all the different classes of proteins found in wheat & why they are so important to be aware of. Deamidated Gliadin & Gliadorphins (aka Gluteomorphins) are simply the by-products of partially digested wheat. Remember, 100% of us do not have the digestive capability required to completely break this stuff down. So this means we are all affected in one way or another by what I’m about to explain, if you choose to eat wheat or any other gluten containing grains.

These peptides or partially digested gluten molecules just so happen to be toxic to our brains. They call these particular peptides Gluteomorphins because they bind to the opiate receptor sites in the brain like morphine. This stimulates our opiate receptors producing endorphines, the feel good hormones. You’d think this is a good thing, but when you have a bagel for breakfast, sandwich for lunch, pasta for dinner & this continues everyday for a lot of us. Eventually this causes a down regulation of the receptor, causing it to stop working.

We are no longer able to recieve the endorphin signaling in our brains. This is why Gluteomorphines are associated with anxiety, depression, attention deficit & autism. Bottom line is eating gluten makes it harder to feel happiness & life satisfaction.

Believe it or not, this is the exact same mechanism in the development of type II diabetes. We all grow up eating this way, from birth we eat so much sugar that we down regulate our insulin receptors. I know your thinking, “but I don’t even eat a lot of candy”. The truth is any form of carbohydrate is eventually broken down by our bodies into glucose. To make a long story short, a whole wheat muffin or bowl of oatmeal gets turned into the exact same thing as a can of soda or bag of candy. Not to mention the roller coaster of high blood sugar levels followed by insulin rebounds & insatiable hunger.

Think about this, what if I’m right…what if we’ve been going through life this whole time & been constantly dealing with low levels of inflammation. Well, I can tell you with 100% certainty we have. If you don’t believe me, good, I dare you to be a experiment of one.

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The Paleo Diet Part 2

Here goes, if you can dedicate yourself to what I’m about to outline I can guarantee you can loose 5 pounds in 7 days, providing there aren’t any major underlying conditions. You know what…I can guarantee you much more then that. I was sitting here reading through this again & I realized. I’m not here to sell you anything! I’m here to give you your life back!

Wether we know it or not we’ve been robbed of our quality of life. These huge corporations along with the bio-tech companies & our very own government have sucked all the life out of our food supply. They sell us these genetically mutated Franken foods & try to hide the fact that they are genetically modified. So then we go to our doctors because we develop all kinds of problems from ingesting insecticides & herbicides just to be put on more chemicals to help deal with being slowly poisoned. Our own government has sold us out to big business & the rich get richer while the rest of us get sick & fatten their pockets. Sorry for the rant.

Seriously, just give this thing a try, we all have so much potential that’s being robbed from us by the chemicals in our food. You owe it to yourself to at least give this a try. I don’t know it all but I’ve learned a ton in the last couple of years & deciding to start this blog has gotten me even more passionate about spreading this message.  Don’t worry, if you have a significant condition your battling or just wanting to look, feel & perform better, or your looking for relief from all the side effects from pharmaceuticals your forced to take because of a disease, you’ve come to the right place. In most cases, we can significantly lessen or even reverse diseases that mainstream medicine deem incurable. Just because your doctor doesn’t know about this doesn’t mean the information doesn’t exist.

As I’ve said before everyone is different, therefore everyone can require slightly different approaches. The idea here is to build a good base, this base will play a important role for the rest of your life. In my opinion, there is no better way to identify potential sensitivities & to start you on your path to a Paleo Diet. Now this may sound a little extreme, I’m going to ask you to give up a lot of the foods we have been enjoying all of our lives. I’m not saying you have to give them up forever, just long enough for your body to flush out all the toxins & so you can see how good we are designed feel. Ideally I would ask you to give up these foods for 30 days, this will really help determine what foods are hurting you. Once you see the potential you have to look, feel & perform in ways you never new you could, this will give you the motivation to push through. What you have to gain from this is most definitely worth a try.

After all, what do you have to loose? I find the people who can benefit from this the most are the ones who need this the most & are the hardest to get to buy in. They are so locked into what their doctor tells them & they come up with any excuse to not change. I always want to say, “how’s that working out for ya”. It’s pretty obvious that this old school mentality of trying to prevent or put a band-aid on disease with pharmaceuticals is not working. We are sicker then ever & show no signs of slowing down. I for one am no longer willing to take my chances. It’s pretty evident

Another approach to this would be extensive food sensitivity testing. The problem with this are all the false negatives, not to mention the fact that the current tests are only looking for a small fraction of the many different classes of proteins found in wheat. Just so you can get a sense of how complicated this is & how easy it is to be misdiagnosed.  Gliadins and Glutenins are the two main components of the gluten fraction of the wheat seed.  Gliadins are made up of alpha-gliadin, beta-gliadin, gamma-gliadin & omega-gliadin.

Wheat also contains agglutinins (proteins that bind to sugar) and prodynorphins (proteins involved with cellular communication). Proteins are chains of amino acids, think of them like a pearl necklace. When we eat wheat or any other protein, enzymes in the digestive tract called tissue transglutaminase (tTG) help to break apart the pearl necklace into smaller amino acids called peptides, then finally individual amino acids. The goal of digestion is to produce a pool of single amino acids that can be reassembled into new structures needed by the body. In this process, additional proteins are formed, including deamidated gliadin & gliadorphins (aka gluteomorphans). Under normal circumstances we digest our food & there is no problem. With gluten, we cannot completely break it down. Our bodies don’t recognize this strange protein & responds by ramping up our immune systems to fight what it thinks is a invader. As a result we develop systemic inflammation.

I explained all this so you would better understand what we are up against. The current tests performed to identify Celiac disease or Non-celiac gluten sensitivity are looking for a immune response to alpha-gliadin & tissue transglutaminase-2.  We know now that people can react to several other components of wheat and gluten, including gliadin (beta, gamma, omega), glutenin, WGA and deamidated gliadin — as well as other types of transglutaminase, including type 3 (primarily found in the skin) and type 6 (primarily found in the brain). This is how you can have a sensitivity to gluten but not have any GI symptoms, it all depends on your genes. The immune system may or may not react to gluten at first. People can have high antibodies to one of these peptides of gluten for decades with out feeling unwell.  Disease is progressive, we don’t develop chronic disease in our 40’s & 50’s, it starts early in life.

I think we all know someone who has always been able to eat as much of whatever they want & seem to always be in good health & never gain a pound.  These are the people who if genetically predisposed would most likely develop a degenerative neurological disorder such as Huntington’s disease, MS, Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s. Nobody is exempt from this sensitivity, it’s a matter of when & how you’ll be affected.

Another problem with the current tests are that they are only accurate when the damage has already been done & the only option is to be put on a immune suppressant. If your not sure what a immune suppressant is, Google it.

The tests for gluten sensitivity can be wrong 7 out of 10 times. We need to start focusing on preventative medicine because what we are doing now is not working. The other problem is most doctors today don’t have the time to keep up with all the latest advances & break throughs. Slowly but surely this is changing but who has the time to wait until they are educated?

Nobody is addressing the underlying problems. You need to quit fueling the fire & repair the damage. Proper supplementation & diet is the key. Our bodies need the appropriate nutrition to help turn on the genes to heal the gut, we need to drive out those pathogenic microbes & replace them with beneficial microbes.

 

Eliminating these 7 foods from your diet will make the biggest change in a matter of days.

  • Wheat & all gluten containing grains
  • corn & all corn products (corn syrup)
  • soy
  • peanuts
  • dairy
  • eggs
  • artificial sweeteners & sugar except where it’s naturally occurring.

The idea is to pull these foods out of your diet for 3-4 weeks. We need to let our immune systems cool off & hormones to come back into balance. The amount of chemicals (GMO’s) in our food supply today is sickening.

Your probably thinking, “what can I eat?” I know the list above seems like everything we eat on a daily basis. Just give it a chance, this isn’t one of those diets that leaves you hungry. It’s quite the opposite actually, take it from somebody who has been living this lifestyle for the last 2 years. It’s changed my life. When asked, “what’s Paleo”, it’s simple. Lean meats, fish, fruit & vegetables, healthy fats from nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oil, coconut oil, fish oil & grass fed meats. I’m currently working on a diet plan & a list of supplements that everyone is likely deficient in. Keep any eye out for those soon.

Like I said, it only takes one week to feel the difference I’ve been raving about, but in order to succeed you need to have a plan! I can’t stress this enough! You’ve heard that saying, “fail to plan, plan to fail”. It’s inevitable!

The changes in mood & energy in the first week are undeniable & always gives people the motivation to keep it up. Most definitely your going to have cravings, but this is a good thing. Whatever you crave is the thing that is hurting you the most.

 

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The Paleo Diet Part 1

Unfortunately there is no one size fits all way of eating. The more I’ve thought about how to outline the perfect diet plan the more I realized I can only offer a guideline for the best way to eat. Everyone is different & everyone will require slightly different dietary tweaks. Don’t get me wrong, everyone will benefit from a Paleo diet. This is merely a good starting point, there are things that are “paleo friendly” that I still don’t include in my diet. Don’t worry, once you get in there & start implementing what I recommend it’ll become pretty easy to know what foods you should stay away from. I’ve made so many mistakes in the past couple years pursuing the perfect diet. I continue to learn & explore all the latest in health & nutrition, in turn my diet is always evolving. I believe in a whole/real foods way of eating that is designed around the lowest inflammation foods possible. The standard American diet that most of us are accustomed to is the exact opposite, it’s based on a low fat/high dietary carbohydrate model that has proven to be the cause of most ailments today. Not to mention the ridiculousness of having to eat every 2 to 3 hours. That would drive me crazy!

The basic Paleo model is as follows: High quality non-starchy vegetables, nutrient dense protein, wild caught fish, whole food fats & low fructose fruits. Seems pretty basic huh? Most of us have gotten so used to processed & refined foods that they have become staples in our kitchens. Everything has gotten so cheap, so convenient, so fast. We are slowly starting to wake up & realize we can’t keep fueling this vicious cycle of pharmaceuticals to help deal with the damage our dietary habits are inflicting. We are experiencing the result of this now & the statistics are not pretty.

  • By 2020, 52% of all US adults will have diabetes or prediabetes
  • Health spending associated with diabetes & prediabetes will rise to $500 billion annually
  • Over the next decade, the US may spend $3.4 trillion of diabetes related care

Meanwhile, mainstream medicine & nutrition continues to recommend a low fat diet high in “heart healthy grains.” Crazy huh?

For the skeptics out there, I hear it all the time, “I’m fine, I don’t have any issues with wheat.” To which I reply, “how do you know?” Most people have no idea how good we can feel because we never go long enough with out eating these inflammatory foods. Gluten intolerance can (and does) affect nearly every tissue in the body, including the brain, skin, endocrine system, stomach, liver & even blood vessels. There is not a single tissue or organ system that’s not affected by grain consumption.

Celiac disease is just one possible expression of gluten intolerance, there are many other ways that sensitivity to gluten can manifest in the body. The growing evidence supports the fact that Non celiac gluten sensitivity or what’s now  being referred to as NCGS is associated with an astonishing variety of diseases. Everything from schizophrenia & epilepsy, to Type 1 diabetes & osteoporosis, to dermatitis & psoriasis, to Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism to peripheral neuropathy. I know I left out quite a few conditions but to name a few more…Alzheimer’s, dementia, depression, anxiety, headaches & even seizures.

Most of us are walking around on a daily basis with systemic inflammation & we just except it. We think we are just getting older & that it’s normal to have aches, pains, chronic headaches & even disease. If I hear one more person say, “runs in our family or it’s in our genes” I’m going to go crazy! If this is still what you think then you obviously haven’t read my other blogs. You might want to stop right here, go back & read. If you have read them & are still skeptical then perfect! I challenge you, be a experiment of one. It only takes a matter of days to start feeling the difference

Just to give you something to think about, you want to shoot for at least 50% of your diet coming from healthy fats, 30% from protein & 20% carbs, I tend to prefer more of a 60-30-10 approach. Once you get in there & start experimenting a little you’ll find there are variations of macronutrient ratios. I tend to do everything pretty extreme so I decided to go with a super low carb approach more of what they call a ketogenic diet, Bulletproof intermittent fasting & all. I’m still playing around & trying to find the ideal balance for me, it all kinda depends on what your trying to accomplish. The important thing to remember is to increase your intake of healthy fats & eliminate processed & refined sugars & grains which basically get turned into sugar in our bodies. We want a high healthy fat, moderate protein, low carb/ low sugar diet. Healthy fats coming from things like MCT oil, coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, avocados, almonds & fish oil to name a few. I’ve talked extensively in previous blogs about why incorporating healthy fats rich in omega-3 and monounsaturated fatty acids is so important. Being on a low fat diet is like telling your body there’s a famine & actually stresses your body out. Sorry vegans but chia & flax are not good sources of fat. Chia & flax seeds have omega 3’s in them but they are the short chain omega 3’s. We are very inefficient at converting them into EPA & DHA which are the longer chain omega 3’s that we need for anti-inflammatory purposes. They also play a key role in brain health & heart health. EPA & DHA provide protection against cancer, Alzheimer’s & depression.  It improves skin conditions like psoriasis & acne, as well as fetal brain development, inflammatory bowel disorders & arthritis to name a few. There’s a good reason 60% of the solid weight of our brain is made from fat.

Feel free to leave questions, comments & ideas. I’m more then willing to help in anyway I can. Keep a look out, I’m going to post a more detailed diet plan shortly.