Posts

neurons1

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.

 

 

 

 

 

image

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.

DNA

The Human Genome Project

Where do I begin…. The Human Genome Project started in 1990 with the goal of sequencing & identifying the Human Genome. On April 14, 2003 the successful completion of the HGP was announced. What does this mean for us? Well it’s pretty amazing actually, it’s like having a complete set of blueprints to the human body. The culmination of work done by Scientists & Doctors to date is pretty amazing.

1394832744393

This picture represents the complete set of human DNA in book form……The Human Genome.

We are in the midst of an epidemic of autoimmune diseases. Asthma, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, ms, celiac disease, etc. These disease’s have only taken shape in the last 40-50 years. This amount of time is too short to blame on genetic changes. It takes centuries for genes to change not decades. We are changing our environment so fast that we cannot adapt & we are paying the price.

The completion of the HGP opened up countless avenues for study. Epigenetics for example, is the study of how our environment impacts & changes the expression of our genes. When I say environment I mean the food we eat, the air we breath, the chemicals we elect to use. Radiation maybe from the Fukushima disaster. The introduction of antibiotics coincides with the development of this epidemic of autoimmune diseases. Antibiotics are like a bomb that gets dropped on this village of bacteria. They kill both the good & bad colonies of bacteria.

Let me try to break this down as simple as I can. We know now that there are around twelve hundred different microorganisms that live in our gut at any given time. This is what they call the Microbiome & is thought to consist of 8,000,000 genes. The Human Genome is the full set of genetic blueprints that each baby inherits from it’s parents & consists of only about 20,000 genes.

1395115433460

Those genes….the microbiome & our genes….the human genome are compatible & because they lived in piece with our mothers they will live in piece with us.

If we were lucky & born through natural delivery we inherit this wealth of bacteria from our mothers. This gut bacteria or gut flora is predominantly good bacteria. There is some bad bacteria but with out both we could not survive. The good is there to keep the bad in check in a sense. Unfortunately in this modern world we have an array of immune insults that if we aren’t careful can lead to a deficit in good bacteria. If your gut flora is abnormal the immune system cannot function well & we develop inflammation.

On the other hand, if you were born through c-section….both good & bad bacteria that was never supposed to be there can come in & affect us from birth. We know now this increases chances for autoimmunity by 3-4 times. Kinda scary huh?

Physiologists have known for decades that 90% of our immune systems are in our guts. The digestive system is the biggest & most important immune organ in the body. The environment we are exposed to impacts directly the composition of our gut bacteria. The food we choose on a daily basis has a dramatic impact on the development & maintenance of our gut health. It’s pretty safe to say we need to be very careful what we expose ourselves to because it has a direct impact on how we develop & age.

Every cell in our body is 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 know that just because you may be genetically skewed to develop cancer, celiac disease, or any other problem doesn’t mean you will. Thanks to the work done by cutting edge Doctors we now know there are three factors in the development of any autoimmune disease.

  1. A Genetic vulnerability to a particular condition (the genetic deck of cards you were dealt, you can’t change).
  2. An Environmental Trigger (the straw that broke the camels back). There are an array of tests becoming available that can identify these vulnerabilities.
  3. Intestinal Permiability (leaky gut). This is the one thing everyone of us can change & with only two components you don’t have the recipe for autoimmunity.

We need to heal & seal our gut lining so food has the chance to be digested properly before it absorbs into our blood stream. Once this is accomplished autoimmunity scales down & the immune system can rebalance itself & pull in all the soldiers that are fighting the battle.

Mainstream medicine continues to be driven by pharmaceuticals it seems & most Doctors aren’t going back to school to study postdoctoral. This is a very exciting time as far as technology & access to information. Share this information with as many people as you know. It really is amazing even with all this information how slow things spread. The next few blogs will help to bring all this around.

wheat

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.

Banner Well_Food_Co