When it comes to the human body, my favorite saying is “everything is connected to everything”. The truth of that statement becomes clear as cutting edge discoveries in functional medicine and holistic healthcare today illuminate the intimate connection between gut health and brain function. Inflammation in your digestive system can lead to more than digestive problems. You can end up with early signs of brain degeneration like brain fog, memory problems, mental fatigue, sleep problems and much more.
Since our intestinal system is entrusted with the job of extracting the nutrients from our food that help us to renew our cells and produce the energy to run our lives, it is already central to our health. But it goes even deeper than that. It turns out we are 90% microbes and 10% human. Yes, that’s right, a normal, healthy human body has 10 time more bacteria than human cells. Most of these bacteria are essential to our health and well-being, working with us symbiotically to keep us humming along.
The other major duty of our intestinal system is to help us get rid of harmful, sometimes deadly, waste products. In addition to the millions of toxic chemicals we are exposed to through our food, water, air and household products, our own metabolism produces toxins that are harmful to our health. All of these chemicals must be eliminated adequately enough to avoid catastrophic cellular damage.
Due to a number of factors, including toxic exposure, a nutrient depleted diet and widespread germ-phobia, (which leads to the overuse of antibiotics, anti-bacterial products and the sanitation of our environment), we have severely disturbed the microbial flora in our intestines. Maybe you have heard of “leaky gut” otherwise referred to as gut permeability problems? This is a condition where, due to an unhealthy gut lining, the normal process of absorption of nutrients and removal of toxic waste has gone awry and resulted in absorption of toxic waste instead.
Similar to this gut permeability problem, the blood-brain barrier is also susceptible to deterioration and becoming “leaky”. The blood-brain barrier is designed to keep toxic chemicals, and especially neuro-toxins (chemicals that damage the brain and nervous system), out of the brain. When this barrier becomes “leaky” we end up with brain and nerve damage, inflammation and a host of problems that come with it, such as the symptoms mentioned above, but also ADHD, autism, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease to name just a few.
Fortunately for us, our body is born with the capability of regeneration of almost every cell. Additionally, the same research that has revealed this new understanding of dysfunction in the gut and the brain, has also pointed to some things we can do to help our body repair this damage and restore our health. It is becoming very clear that it is vitally important to arm our body with antioxidants, the main defense against damaging free radicals (molecules from toxic chemicals that damage our cells).
Glutathione is your body’s main anti-oxidant and is beautifully designed to scarf up free radicals and prevent cellular damage. A critical factor in preventing and healing damage to both your brain and your gut is increasing glutathione availability. Equally important is reducing your exposure to chemicals through healthy choices in food, water and household products and assisting your body in removing toxins, which can be done through diet, supplements and therapies that assist your built-in detoxification (or biotransformation) system.
This is an exciting and fast paced time in holistic healthcare advancements and there is much you can do on your own and with the assistance of your trusted health care practitioner to assure a vital and optimal life.