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The Gut Brain Axis

Do you have trouble finding your car keys? Remembering the names of new acquaintances or something you just learned? Do you have digestive difficulties? Unfortunately, Americans are as a nation getting weaker in their heads. Alzheimer’s is now the 6th leading cause of death, whereas it didn’t even make the top 10 a few years ago and mental illness is the highest healthcare cost in USA as of 2016, surpassing cancer and heart disease.

What do the brain and the gut have in common? The answer is the healthy barrier that protects your intestinal lining and the healthy barrier that protects your brain. There are connections between the intestinal cells, called tight junctions, which are tight for a reason. They keep the bigger food molecules out and let the smaller fully digested molecules in. Picture a sieve with small holes. When we continue to eat inflammatory foods however, these junctions enlarge, the sieve holes get bigger and this is where the term “leaky gut” comes from, larger substances flow through the intestinal walls and into the bloodstream. These larger food molecules become antigenic substances in your bloodstream, seen as “foreign” they ramp up the immune system reaction and you get a delayed hypersensitivity food reaction which could result in brain fog, lethargy, rash, swelling, skin changes like rough dry skin patches, psoriasis, eczema or dark circles under the eyes. Have you ever felt like taking a nap after eating a hot cheesy piece of pizza? That’s why.

Many of us have heard of the negative effects of gluten, which comes from flour or wheat. Gluten from wheat can create opioid like proteins that cause brain fog. Continued consumption of reactive foods creates continual inflammation of your small intestine. Worse than gluten however is Glyphosate. Glyphosate is the chemical name for GMO. To eradicate GMO get the free-online “NON-GMO Shopping guide”.

Causes of leaky gut are:

  • Diet: alcohol, gluten, casein, processed foods, excess sugar, food allergies
  • Meds: corticosteroids, antibiotics, antacids, xenobiotic
  • Infections: H.pylori, bacterial overgrowth, yeast, overgrowth, intestinal virus, parasitic infection
  • Hormonal: decreased thyroid hormone/testosterone/estrogen/progesterone
  • Stress: increased cortisol and catecholamines
  • Neurologic: brain trauma, stroke, neuro-degeneration
  • Metabolic: glycoslyated end products, intestinal inflammation, auto-immune conditions.

Causes of leaky brain are:

  • wheat
  • bacteria
  • milk
  • viruses
  • xenobiotics

Leaky gut leads to leaky brain. The blood-brain barrier (BBB) is a single cell-layer structure that lines the capillaries reaching the nervous system and brain. It protects the brain and nervous system from infiltration by pathogens and other immunogens. Proteins making up the BBB are similar to the tissue proteins of the intestinal barrier. The microglia are cells within the brain that help support the brain and when healthy normally destroy plaque and remove dead cells. However they can convert to inflammatory products causing collateral damage and injury. To fix the leaky brain you fix the leaky gut. Remove any food sources that are initiating the process.

This is fascinating news for me personally because I have seen many patients who have brain issues, either from Lyme disease, post concussion, or simply poor cognition. What is really going on? The truth is if you suffer from either leaky gut or leaky brain then you need to repair both of them at the same time. This is a shocking statistic: 50-90% of those with Irritable Bowel Syndrome also had panic disorder, Post traumatic Stress Disorder, as well as Generalized Anxiety and Depression.

How do you know if you have a leaky gut? A leaky blood brain barrier? Gluten sensitivity? Celiac? Could you even be making antibodies to your own brain that is causing your brain to be inflamed? How do you know? The good news is we have a blood test that checks for these things with prices ranging from $225 to $350.   Breakdown in the BBB plays a role in multiple disorders including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, traumatic brain injury, multiple sclerosis, AIDS dementia, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and epilepsy. The price of the lab test is a small price to pay to help prevent any of these diseases, which are truly debilitating.

The good news is your leaky gut and leaky brain can be healed! There are specific herbs that quiet brain inflammation and even usher out the debris from the brain. A healthy diet, a wide array of brain power supplements, as well as healthy brain exercises and even some powerful intravenous therapies, we can help you digest better, think more clearly and enhance your health.

Sincerely,

Jacqueline Chan, D.O.

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