The Gut-Brain Connection
I have never gotten past the fact that my mom started experiencing confusion, disorientation and dementia-like symptoms at precisely the same time she started having severe gut issues.
When the gut symptoms would calm down, so would her cognitive symptoms. And when the gut issues flared again, so did the cognitive issues. The pattern was very notable.
Ultimately, she was rapidly overtaken by a very advanced stage of dementia. And yet, her brain scans showed a normal brain for a person of her age – there was nothing on her MRI to reflect her horribly compromised cognitive state. Doctors had no explanation, and I always insisted there was a link between her gut issues and what was happening to her brain. Remarkably, all I got back from the doctors were blank stares.
How is it that doctors know so little about the gut-brain connection?
‘Leaky gut’ is a term used for a permeable gut lining associated with inflammation. In a healthy digestive tract, the cells lining the intestines are plumped up and closely packed together, carefully controlling the absorption of nutrients from food.
In an individual with a leaky gut, i.e. a semi permeable gut lining, the cells become inflamed and gaps appear between the cells, large enough for food particles and other toxins to enter directly into the bloodstream.
If someone’s digestion is in a poor condition, undigested food particles may pass through these gaps between the cells in the intestines, and the immune system may react to this by creating more inflammation. Excess inflammation can cause further damage to cells, exacerbating the problem.
A leaky gut is therefore often an ongoing issue, and frequently undiagnosed.
A digestive stool analysis can reveal this information by testing secretory IgA (Immunoglobulin A) levels. IgA is an antibody used by the immune system to identify and fight off unwanted objects such as infectious bacteria, and this specific type of antibody is produced in mucosal linings (the gut wall). As unwanted undigested food particles may pass through the gut lining, the immune reaction involving high levels of IgA antibodies may suggest a permeable gut lining.
“If you have an intolerance to a food, or several foods, you almost certainly have a leaky gut.” – Source
If you don’t wish to fork out the money for a digestive stool analysis test, you can also usually diagnose through symptoms related to intolerances, including bloating and stomach cramps after eating, or a feeling of ‘sensitivity’ to certain foods such as bread.
If you have an intolerance to a food, or several foods, you almost certainly have a leaky gut.
Symptoms of a food intolerance can range from complaints of bloating and diarrhoea, to sinusitis, eczema, migraines, joint pains and chronic fatigue.
An intolerance to a food results in an immune reaction causing excess inflammation in the body, often pain associated.
SuperGreens help heal the gastrointestinal tract.
Fermented foods like Spriulina supply the brain with many crucial vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.
To reduce oxidative stress, the Chinese herb Cordyceps actually nourishes the glutathione cycle in the body. Glutathione is the number one antioxidant in your body and can be measured diagnostically in order to determine levels of health. Cordyceps also has been shown to support immune system function and sustain long periods of intense athletic performance. In Chinese medicine, Cordyceps is also well known for its ability to fortify the yang qi, or primal energy of the body.
Severely restrict sugar, gluten and refined grains – white rice, pasta, white flour, etc.
I’ve been compiling useful links here that I’ve come across as I thoroughly investigate the gut-brain connection, and the possibility that gut issues can lead to full fledged dementia, as well as advice for maintaining a healthy gut:
Diet, the Gut, the Brain – and Dementia | – on Dementia