How Is the Gut Connected to the Brain?

Did you know your gut is intricately connected to your brain? The brain needs a lot of nutrients to do its job. Not just food nutrients, but minerals and raw materials needed to help metabolic processed. If you do not have these nutrients in your diet, or your gut is too inflamed to absorb them well, you will have shortages in the brain.

Another huge aspect of the gut – brain connection is how bugs (microbes) manipulate the brain. The impact of gut microflora on brain function has again been confirmed by UCLA researchers who, in a proof-of-concept study, found that probiotics (beneficial bacteria) indeed altered the brain function in the participants.

The human body contains trillions of microbes, collectively called the microbiome. In just one person’s body, they are estimated to weigh two to six pounds — up to twice the weight of the average human brain.

Most reside in the gut and intestines, where they can help us to digest food, synthesize vitamins, and fight off infection. But their influence seems to reach the brain in a powerful way.

The benefit of a healthy gut is illustrated most effectively during early development. Research has indicated just how sensitive a fetus is to any changes in a mother’s microbiotic makeup, so much so that it can alter the way a baby’s brain develops. If a baby is born via cesarean section, it misses an opportunity to ingest the mother’s bacteria as it travels down the vaginal canal. Studies show that those born via c-section have to work to regain the same diversity in their microbiome as those born vaginally. Throughout our lives, our microbiome continues to be a vulnerable entity, and as we are exposed to stress, toxins, chemicals, certain diets, and even exercise, our microbiome fluctuates for better or worse.

The most empowering aspect to the gut-brain connection is the understanding that many of our daily lifestyle choices play a role in mediating our overall wellness. This whole-body approach to healthcare and wellness continues to show its value in our longevity, well-being, and quality of life: that both physical and mental health go hand-in-hand.

Got Tempeh?

Got tempeh?

I was in my favorite Mother’s market today and was so excited get my firm tempeh that I love to saute and use as my plant based protein source.

Want some good plant-based protein sources?

Tempeh is a form of soy that is closer to soy in its whole food form. The vast majority of soy consumed in the U.S. comes from a highly processed form of soy. The soybeans we consume have usually been genetically engineered, cracked, dehulled, crushed, and subjected to solvent extraction to separate their oils from the rest of the bean. What’s left behind after oil extraction (defatted soy flour) is then further processed into animal feed, or processed to produce a protein concentrate or a protein isolate. The isolate can be used as an ingredient in low-fat soymilk, and the concentrate can be further processed (extruded) to form a textured soy protein for use in meat analog products (like soy burgers).

Tempeh is produced with significantly less processing than most low-fat soymilks and soy burgers, and they are soy foods that are much closer to a “whole foods” category than soy protein isolates and concentrates.

Fermentation increases the digestibility of soy (especially its proteins), nutrient absorption from soy  and the concentration of bioactive peptides

Cooked tempeh can be eaten alone, or used in chili, stir fries, soups, salads, sandwiches, and stews. Tempeh’s complex flavor has been described as nutty, meaty, and mushroom-like. It freezes well, and is now commonly available in many western supermarkets, as well as in ethnic markets and health food stores.

The Power of Nutrigenomics

Nutrigenomics is the study of how genes and nutrients interact. We have finally been able to put the science to the idea that we’re all different. We respond in a different way to the environment, to diet, to trying to lose weight, to exercise training. But we never really understood the science behind it. Genetics gives us that information

Nutrigenomics is the study of gene behavior that is driven by diet, lifestyle, environment, drugs, pharmaceuticals, stress. Nutrigenomic education, accreditation, certification is becoming more accepted.

Precision wellness would happen if wellness professionals started looking at somebody’s genomics in a comprehensive way. This would reveal predispositions and where they’re likely to have problems and what issues are likely to arise for them. We can possibly customize  dietary recommendations, customize exercise recommendations and customize other behavioral and lifestyle interventions that would be likely to help based on genomics. Wellness professionals could work at the front end and speed up the process of doing the diet, behavioral, and lifestyle interventions when consultations have begun with this information.

Nutrigenomic information never exists in isolation. It needs to be understood in the context of all the lifestyle habits.

The shift in mindset from genetics to genomics is similar to the shift from an allopathic mindset into more of a functional systems-based medicine mindset. Genetics looks at a single layer of information. Genomic impact is where we look at many factors, complex interventions ending with complex results.

People are starting to want to understand themselves. How is it relevant to me? How does it change me? How do I respond?

 

CHALLENGES

  1. Ancestry genetics is interesting but the power is in the nutrition and the diet and environment and stress management and movement, changing gene expression, altering epigenetics
  2. Explosion of genetic tests available in the marketplace. Everyone is kind of on the genetics bandwagon. The concern is about direct-to-consumer, supplement-based testing
  3. A good genetics test looks at key issues in understanding the kind of functional nature of an individual . This includes, detoxification inflammation methylation
  4. Consideration has to be given to how people interact with disease information and whether that should be direct-to-consumer.
  5. it’s so easy to buy a 23AndMe test and it’s so affordable, people line up with kind of a false expectation of what they’re going to do with their data.
  6. Psychosocial anxiety around the information patients are given. We’re not evaluating patients for their medical and clinical history.
  7. treating SNPs with particular protocols is over
  8. It can be used as a way of ignoring or diminishing the importance of changes to diet, lifestyle, and behavior.
  9. Can be a source of disempowerment and overwhelm that actually paralyzes people and keeps them from taking meaningful actions