Health scientists have known for years that our gut is our second brain. There is an intricate connection between the gut and the brain. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/the-brain-gut-connection
It seems that when not if we grow older our risk of developing some form of dementia increases significantly. What causes Alzheimer’s disease? A Mayo Clinic article suggests that age and genetics (the apolipoprotein E gene – APOE) are two primary causes of developing some form of dementia.
Down syndrome, gender, past head trauma, poor sleep patterns, lack of exercise, obesity, smoking, hypertension, high cholesterol, poorly controlled type 2 diabetes, and not being socially active can contribute to Alzheimer’s disease.
I am more of a purist in what causes what to happen. Beta-amyloid protein clusters/fragments and tau protein neurofibrillary tangles are two that I talk about in my presentations to Baby Boomers.
There is a definitive connection between our primary brain in our head and our second brain in our gut. Our primary brain has 85 billion neurons compared to 500 million neurons in our gut. There are 100 neurotransmitters in our primary brain and 40 neurotransmitters in our second brain.
Fifty percent of dopamine is created in each brain. However, our primary brain produces only 5% of all serotonin while our gut produces the other 95%. The blood-brain-barrier prevents unwanted molecules from entering that vital space inside our skulls. The gut has no protective measures. Many toxins enter the gut and create serious health issues over time.
Sources I Like
Grain Brain, by David Perlmutter, MD (https://www.amazon.com/Grain-Brain-Surprising-Sugar-Your-Killers/dp/031623480X), and Wheat Belly, by William Davis, MD (https://www.amazon.com/Wheat-Belly-Revised-Updated-Weight/dp/1984824945) are two excellent sources that connect what we eat to how we think.
Type III Diabetes
Insulin responds to the level of blood glucose in our bodies. Blood glucose increases when carbohydrates are eaten. When our brains are overwhelmed by insulin and unable to function properly, memory and learning suffer. Over time, it is believed that insulin resistance in our brains opens the door to Alzheimer’s disease (type III diabetes). (https://www.verywellhealth.com/why-is-alzheimers-called-type-3-diabetes-98797)
If we control our insulin levels by choosing foods that do not spike blood sugar, our brains should have a reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. The two prominent diets available now are
Atkins and Keto
I read five or six books on Atkins back in the mid-90s and chose to live on as few carbohydrates as possible. I averaged less than ten grams of carbs daily without any difficulty. I lost weight and kept it off for years.
What the books did not tell me was those poor food choices can affect my body’s pH – and it did. I became osteopenia by maintaining a highly acidic environment in my body. Once I became aware of it, I changed my lifestyle and no longer have that problem.
Foods that lower pH and make your body acidic are fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. Breathing, exercising, thinking, and more also tend to release acidic byproducts into our bodies and we end up being more acidic than is healthy.
When that happens, maintaining an acidic environment in our bodies, calcium is leached from the bones to keep blood pH normal (7.35-7.45). Living in acidosis (a constant acidic environment) leads to bone calcium loss which leads to osteopenia and eventually osteoporosis.
Foods that increase the alkalinity in our bodies are fruits and vegetables. Yes, they have carbohydrates in them, but fiber and other factors convert the food products into alkaline byproducts. For example, drinking freshly squeezed orange juice contains sugar and citric acid.
One would think it would cause our bodies to become acidic. The byproduct of sodium citrate (acidic) in our digestive tract is sodium bicarbonate which is alkaline. Choosing the right foods can keep our bodies and bones healthy.
Diet – Alzheimer’s Disease
Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina has been studying diet and cognitive issues associated with a modified (more fungi) Mediterranean-style ketogenic diet. The focus of the study was to evaluate the gut biome to determine if diet could reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
A basic ketogenic diet is one with little carbohydrates, a moderate amount of protein, and higher amounts of fat (healthy fat). This type of diet changes our metabolism from using energy from blood sugar (glycogen) to using fatty acids or ketone bodies. Scientists have found that a ketone-based diet tends to reduce inflammation and improve insulin sensitivity.
The study monitored the mycobiomes and cerebrospinal fluids of the participants. With an emphasis on good fungi, it was hoped that the gut would normalize the good fungi and rid itself of the harmful varieties. The biomarkers in the cerebrospinal fluid and the suppression of Candida albicans, a fungus commonly found in the human gut biome.
After several weeks of the modified diet, the researchers determined that the health of the gut biome improved significantly. They believe that a healthier gut means a healthier brain and a reduced risk of dementia and other inflammation-related diseases.
Switching to keto-based diet changes several things. The mistake I made with the Atkins Diet I was on was the selection of the wrong goods – those which added to and maintained a highly acidic environment in my body. A keto-based diet is going to be acidic – fats and proteins as the major part of the foods consumed.
Selecting more fruits and vegetables, which are allowed and encouraged if they are vegetables grown above ground (think lettuce, spinach, kale, etc.) and berries which are lower than other fruits in sugar content. (https://www.dietdoctor.com/low-carb/keto/vegetables)
I advocate a nutritionally balanced diet with caloric restriction. What does that mean? Select foods that will provide the minimum daily nutritional requirements with the least number of calories. Nutritional deficiencies can lead to many diseases, especially as you age.
Maintaining a lifestyle that provides for over 30 nutrients the body needs daily will provide longevity and reduced risk of age-related diseases. Of course, exercise, stress management, toxin avoidance, and a few other things help support that healthy lifestyle.
Live Longer & Enjoy Life! – Red O’Laughlin – RedOLaughlin.com