Have you heard of the gut brain connection? Would you believe that our gut and gut bacteria actually plays perhaps one of the most important roles in brain health?
Our friendly gut bacteria send more than 400 times the number of messages to the brain than the brain sends to our bodies (Hyman, 2017).
If you have read our previous blog posts, you will remember what we put in our body plays a huge role in our chronic fatigue and brain fog. This is because if we feed the bad bacteria and fungi loads of sugar we disrupt the connection to our brain. Alzheimer’s and dementia are now being thought of as type three diabetes.
The gut and the brain communicate via the vagus nerve. Stress, mood, satiety, etc. are all
communicated by the vagus nerve. Research has found that the microbiome directly effects
changes in this pathway (Goehler et al., 2005). Activation of the vagus nerve has also been
shown to reduce neuroinflammation, which is inflammation in the brain (Meneses et al., 2016). We can draw the conclusion that taking care of our guts decreases inflammation in the brain and thus will reduce our chances of brain related illnesses.
So, what should we do to protect our gut and our brain?
Do we need a probiotic?
Probiotic usage has increased 156% over the past ten years (Pharmacy Times, 2017) . What are probiotics? Why are they so important? Can I just eat yogurt?
Not all bacteria are bad. Probiotics are considered good bacteria that are similar to the bacteria that should be present in our intestines (Mayo Clinic, 2017) . Research has shown that there is almost 10 times more bacteria in the GI tract than cells in the human body (Quigley, 2013). With that many in our bodies how can they not be important?
Let’s start with the importance of good bacteria in the GI tract since that is where most people associate probiotic usage. Bacteria living in the intestines produce vitamin K (which helps with vitamin D absorption), vitamin B12 and folate (B9). They also produce enzymes that prevent the buildup of bad bacteria, yeast and fungi. (Dr. Axe.com, 2017).
Research shows that a disruption in the normal gut flora contributes to the onset of
hypertension (Yang, 2017). Hypertension continues to run rampant in the United States. It is
estimated 40% of Americans will have high blood pressure in the next 13 years. Just let that
sink in … that is almost 144 MILLION PEOPLE!
We have just barely broken the surface on the effects of our bacteria in our bodies, but there is enough evidence to tell us that we need to take care of our friendly flora. Clean up our diet with a whole, unprocessed, low sugar, high fiber diet. Eat plenty of good fats, omega-3 fatty acids support the gut bacteria and coconut oil has been linked to anti-inflammatory benefits (Hyman M., 2017). Supplement with a good probiotic.
So, is yogurt a good source of probiotics? Unfortunately, it is not. Remember that whole sugar thing we like to talk about? Yogurt is typically loaded with sugar, lacks healthy fat and only has a small number of good probiotics. We typically recommend a probiotic supplement that contains about 20 billion colony forming units. Colony forming units represent how many bacteria are capable of dividing and forming colonies.
If you would like to learn more about how to help your friendly gut bacteria and how to
improve your overall health give us a call at (785) 842-7325.
Dr. Jeric Toney D.C.