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Gut Health & Beyond: Brain Maker Review

 

I just finished reading “Brain Maker” and I can’t say enough great things about this book! If you want to loose weight, optimize health or manage illness this is a must read. Dr. Pulmetter provides an evidence- based rationale for how the our gut health and microbiome influences our weight and the health of our brain, nervous and immune system. Here are some of the key take-home points from the book:

 

  • Your body is colonized by roughly a hundred trillion invisible organisms. These organisms thrive in your mouth, nose, ears, intestines, genetalia and skin. This is our microbiome. Most of these organisms are bacteria. They live in your digestive tract and help our immune system fight invaders. They also help with detoxification, inflammation, vitamin production and absorption of nutrients from the foods we eat. The microbiome is what we are talking about when we refer to gut health.
  • Various experiences in your life may have an impact on your gut health. Some of the risk factors for an unhealthy microbiome include: antibiotic use, C-section birth, being formula fed vs. breast fed, chronic infections as a child, steroid use, gluten-sensitivity, autoimmune disease, type 2 diabetes, IBS, depression and more.
  • There is both “good” and “bad” bacteria that are found in the gut. Both human and animal studies show that bad gut bacteria can cause disease, increase inflammation and set off a stress response in our bodies. Good bacteria do the opposite and have a positive effect on our gut health.
  • Inflammation is the common denominator in chronic diseases such as: obesity, diabetes, cancer, depression, autism, asthma, arthritis, heart disease, MS, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
  • Gut bacteria don’t just help our digestion but they also play a large role in our metabolism. This means that the bacteria in our gut has a  direct impact on whether we loose or gain weight. The 2 largest groups of bacteria are firmicutes and bacteroidetes. They make up 90% of the guts bacterial population. Firmicutes take calories from food so they increase the likelihood of weight gain. Bacteriodetes on the other hand, break down plant starches and fibers that the body can use for energy and help with weight loss. Studies have shown that people who are overweight or obese have more firmicutes in their gut which makes it harder for them to loose weight.
  • Your GI tract (esophagus – anus) is lined with a layer of cells, which absorbs nutrients and protects us from chemicals and organisms. If the connection between the cells (tight junction) is compromised we end up with what’s called a “leaky gut”. Leaky gut increases inflammation and makes us more susceptible to chronic illness and poor gut health.

 

How to Improve Gut Health:

1. Eat foods rich in probiotics: This includes fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, yogurt, kombucha, kefir, tempeh, & picked fruits and veggies.

 

2. Eat low carb & high quality fat: limit carrots, milk/cream, non-gluten grains, whole sweet fruit, stevia and chocolate to small amounts once per day. Eat high quality fats including: avocados, olive oil, coconut oil, grass fed meat/butter, & seeds (flax, chia, sunflower and pumpkin). Eat low sugar fruits like: avocado, peppers, cucumber, tomato, zucchini, squat, pumpkin, eggplant and lemons.

 

3. Increase intake of vegetables to improve gut health: leafy greens, collards, spinach, broccoli, kale, onions, mushrooms, etc.

 

4. Enjoy wine, tea, coffee and chocolate: If we enjoy these foods in moderation we can maintain balanced gut health!

 

5. Eat foods rich in prebiotics: prebiotics are food for the good bacteria which help maintain gut health. These include: acacia gum, raw chicory root, artichoke, raw dandelion greens, raw garlic, raw leek, raw onion, cooked onion & raw asparagus.

 

6. Drink filtered water: Chlorine in our water system can have a negative impact on our microbiome and gut health.

 

7. Fast every season: intermittent fasting can take various forms (weekly, daily, monthly, or seasonally) but various studies have shown the benefits of fasting on health, longevity and gut health.
8. Supplement with high quality probiotics & vitamins for good gut health: To find high quality probiotics go to a store known for it’s natural supplement section and speak to someone familiar with the brands. Look for supplements that contain at least the following species:
  •  Lactobacillus palntarum,
  • Lactobacillus acidophilus
  • Lactobacillus brevis
  • Bifidobacterium lactis
  • Bifidobacterium longum.
Additional supplements to consider include:
  • DHA
  • Tumeric
  • Coconut oil
  • A-lipoic acid
  • vitamin D