Nora Gedgaudas

Primal mind

Primal mind

As a neurofeedback provider over the last 20 years I have adopted a way of thinking about clients that has additionally served me extremely well in working with nutritionally-related issues. Within the field of neurofeedback clients arrive with typically a laundry list of symptoms and complaints they are hoping to improve through brain training. Almost no one walks through the door with a singular complaint. There is usually one issue that stands out amidst the rest, but in our line of work we want to know everything and understand how any given person feels and functions in their day-to-day life. It is not uncommon to have someone walk through the door and say "I have real problems with focus and concentration." Practically in the same breath, they'll mention the fact that they don't sleep very well at night, they are prone to IBS symptoms, or they may have feelings of depression and concomitant anxiety in life and "oh--by the way, did I mention that I get these migraines…?"

As a neurofeedback provider over the last 20 years I have adopted a way of thinking about clients that has additionally served me extremely well in working with nutritionally-related issues. […]

“The statistics on sanity are that one out of every four Americans is suffering from some form of mental illness. Think of your three best friends. If they’re okay, then it’s you.” Rita Mae Brown

Anyone wandering into a mainstream medical office – or even many alternative ones will likely walk out the door after their appointment with either a half-dozen prescriptions, or shopping bag full of supplements. But in my line of work, I have learned to look upon every symptom and complaint that a person presents as a “point on a constellation”. Rather than compartmentalizing each symptom as something occurring independently of one another, I see these things as very much interrelated. The more points I am able to collect for that constellation, the clearer the picture usually becomes.

Most of Western medicine and Western thinking, in general today is still couched (knowingly or unknowingly) in a blind allegiance to a nearly 400-year-old model of consensually agreed upon scientific “reality” known as Newtonian physics. –It is the idea that everything and everyone in the world is compartmentalized and separate from everything/everyone else. It is a supposedly well-ordered world where objects behave predictably according to certain well-behaved laws of physics and the human body is simply a machine that operates as the sum of its parts. My friend, Thom Hartmann has pointed out that you can take a car apart and a good mechanic can put it all back together and it will run. You take a living organism apart and not even the world’s most talented surgeon can put it back together to where it would come back to life. Life is something fat more complex and sophisticated than a machine. Your body and mind is a complex system of interrelationships and communication networks.

Mainstream medicine essentially remains organized according to these now outmoded Newtonian principles, however, and the entire field is highly compartmentalized in order to supposedly better address the dysregulation of any given part of that machine: We have gastroenterologists, pulmonologists, nephrologists, cardiovascular specialists, neurologists, urologists, endocrinologists, psychiatrists…and on and on. In these fields rarely communicate well with one another, each assuming their corner on the market with a set of symptoms and failing to recognize the complex symphony of interrelationships that ultimately makes up the human being.

Mental health is seen as something inherently separate from physical health, even though (last I looked) most people’s brains live inside their heads, and their heads tend to be screwed on to a body.

Its all part of the same functioning and functioning complex system and it all has to be understood together in context. This is largely the more enlightened ideology behind the emerging field of functional medicine and functional nutrition. Both of these fields have a long ways to go, as they still tend to predicate their assumptions on some outmoded (and sometimes very non-functional) ideas – but at least it’s a move in the right direction.

 

The fact is that nothing in this universe is truly compartmentalised (quantum mechanics is very clear about this), least of all the makeup of the human body and mind. There is no such thing as a "mind-body connection”. It's all part of the same thing. Unfortunately, the average person on the street really doesn't get this concept.

Years ago, I had a client whose brain and nervous system was a complete and total mess when they walked through my door. They had every mental, emotional and cognitive symptom in the book and it was affecting every part of her personal and professional life. There were signs and symptoms of everything from ADD, to OCD, to depression, to anxiety, sleep related problems, major distractibility, memory issues, emotional reactivity, and they could not be counted upon to show up on time for anything–including our appointments. After a few brain-training sessions I realized I was dealing with someone who was severely hypoglycemic, with likely issues related to immune reactivity, if not outright celiac disease (this was a major bread and cereal grain eater). I wasn’t “diagnosing” any of this with her, but I was recommending some screening to rule these things out and to address their nutritional status (which was simply lousy). Their response was one of complete denial. They said, “but why would I want to go there?”   “I am perfectly healthy!!! I haven’t been sick in years and look at all the energy I have!” (They were, of course, confusing “energy” with complete neurosis, coupled with a Red Bull habit they layered on top of about a pot of coffee a day). When I lifted up their progress chart and showed them the laundry list of symptoms they had walked in with it was as though they had never made the connection that these issues were part of their health, too.   I find this way of thinking all too common. People seem to have absolutely no comprehension of the fact that the way they feel emotionally and/or cognitively may have everything in the world to do with how they eat.

If you have IBS, for instance, do you think this could possibly have anything to do with your brain or even impact on the way your brain functions? You better believe it! How about the other way around? You better know it!

So much of what I see starting out with my neurofeedback clients, also, is an inability people have to effectively manage their own states. Neurofeedback is awesome for helping people do just that, but the best brain training simply can’t put a nutrient there that isn’t there or take away some interfering substance that doesn’t belong. The brain needs those raw materials and clear playing field to operate at its best and make the best use of information it has available.

It’s all about keeping our internal lines of communication open and effective!

Our brain can be like a wild horse with no reigns – or like a prison. The result of this often more than anything is that we simply end up getting in our own way!

So… how do we go about getting out of our own way?

First, we need to define what that means:

 

 

ALL of us see the world through a lens that is our biochemistry – our hormones, our neurotransmitters and (the degree to which we choose to be dependent upon it) our blood sugar. These factors plus our degree of brain timing regulation or dysregulation are inherent to our interpretation of the world around us.

I see all these factors as inter-related. This is what “colors” our perceptions and interpretation of the world around us. The implications of this are HUGE when it comes to managing our quality of life!

By applying the dietary principles our ancestors followed instinctively, we have the capacity to clear this lens and see the world as it is, with clarity and a foundational balance. But by going “BEYOND” this—by modifying these foundational principles to adapt to the challenges of our modern world and also by applying some of the newest principles in longevity science—we now have the ability to not just see the world around us more clearly but to RADICALLY TRANSFORM IT. The implications are extraordinarily exciting.

But to address the issue of nutrition and mental health, I think it helps to start out by defining what it is that constitutes and defines human emotion. Basically, your emotions are merely a biochemical storm in your body and brain.

The healthier your underlying biochemistry…the better the emotional forecast! If you create an unstable climate for your emotions to form in you can really create a mess…and everyone around you will be running for cover.

Your brain can either be like a nice white sandy beach or it can be like hurricane Katrina…WE DETERMINE OUR OWN INTERNAL CLIMATE. And in large part we can do that most effortlessly by what we choose to eat. Mental and physical Health are unavoidably linked.

According to late, pioneering neuropharmacologist, Candace Pert :

“Your body IS your subconscious mind!!”

(And anyone who thinks their conscious mind is running the show is seriously mistaken)

The following study from the National Institute of Aging Annals of Internal Medicine tells us that:

“…Emerging findings suggest that dietary factors play major roles in determining whether the brain ages successfully or experiences a Neurodegenerative Disease.”[1]

The fact that we are 99.99% identical to our pre-agricultural forebears suggests this to be our first hint, with respect to what we might need to do in order to maximize health of our brain and support its most healthful aging. This needs to be an essential starting place!   But there is one clear and disturbing trend that anyone would be hard-pressed to refer to as “evolutionary”: 

“Human populations during the last 10,000 years have undergone rapid decreases in average brain size as measured by endocranial volume or as estimated from linear measurements of the cranium.” [2]

The fact that we have lost just over 10% of our brain volume in the last 10,000 years since we adopted agriculture is another disquieting hint that we have been moving in the wrong direction as a species. The fact that we have shifted from a diet essentially 90% based upon the meat and fat of the animals we hunted for more than 2 million years to one that is instead 90% based upon cereal grains and a mostly carbohydrate-based diet should be our first clue[3]. The human brain is simply not optimally designed to run on sugar, no matter what mainstream nutritionists and supposedly medical authorities tell you[4]. Our brains WILL rely on sugar if we have conditioned our brains to do so through a dependence on sugar and starch…but this is absolutely not your brain’s safest, most efficient or even preferred fuel. Of course, our current carbohydrate-based diet is the very diet, in fact, promoted by the USDA (US Department of AGRICULTURE’s) Food Pyramid today—NO BIAS THERE, RIGHT? Is something wrong with this picture?

Ah well, we’re dumber but at least we’re more malleable….

There are some that have the hypothesis that the reduction in our brain size has something to do with “improved brain efficiency”. These of course are people who like to rationalise the idea that “size doesn’t matter”…which we know sometimes does!!!

A presentation given at the Royal Society in London, in June of 2011 was delivered by Dr Marta Lahr of the Leverhulme Centre for Human Evolutionary Studies at Cambridge University, UK. The findings she reported were that: The male brain of 20,000 years ago measured 1,500 cubic centimetres. Modern man’s brain (not women’s, of course—we never lost it) averages just 1,350 cubic cm — a decrease equivalent to size of a tennis ball.  I don’t know about you, but I’d like to get that back!

When asked the question, What might explain this reduction in brain size? Dr. Lahr replied:

The brain is a fatty organ, and two forms of fat that play an integral part in its development are arachidonic acid and docosahexaenoic acid. Arachidonic acid is found in, among other things, meat. Docosahexaenoic acid is also found in fish, seafood and meat, as well as bone marrow and, perhaps not surprisingly, brain (there is good evidence that our early ancestors used stone tools to break open skulls and bones to gain access to brains and bone marrow respectively).

In some respects, therefore, the diet we ate as hunter-gatherers, rich in animal foods as it was, provided an abundance of brain food.  Of course our move to grains as a staple food would have seen a fall in our intake of crucial brain-building fats.

BINGO.

And not only have our brains shrunk by a good 10% in the last 10,000 years but they also tend to shrink further today with age! Only humans have brains that progressively get smaller with increasing age, the research has shown. It’s primarily our grey matter—that houses many of our higher faculties– that gets smaller with age.   We’re also the only species that habitually chooses, by the way, to eat foods to which we are not genetically adapted.

Hmmmmm. Coincidence?

Age-related shrinkage of large-scale brain structures such as the hippocampus and frontal lobes has only ever been observed in humans.

One of the study’s team members, Dr. Chet Sherwood wrote in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: “Humans may be uniquely vulnerable to age-related neurodegeneration.”[5]

Humans are also uniquely prone to brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s in later life as well as a general decline in memory and ‘thinking’ skills.

SO What are we missing??????

As mentioned before, the human brain makes up maybe 2-5% of our total body weight yet uses a whopping 20-30% of our total caloric energy demands! In babies this number is as high as 75%. This is in contrast to the great apes whose brains use only about 8% of their caloric demands.  Our brains are very spendy with respect to the energy they require. This is one more critical clue (are you with me, Watson?)

Where did we humans get the extra energy to spend on our large brains? Researchers WR Leonard and ML Robertson concluded that the evolution of brain size imply changes in diet quality during hominid evolution. They say,

‘The shift to a more calorically dense diet was probably needed in order to substantially increase the amount of metabolic energy being used by the hominid brain.”[6] Think about what we’ve been mostly eating for the last 10,000 years…(while our brains have been progressively shrinking…)

There can be no question dietary fat is central to the health and optimal function of the human brain. There is nothing that is more stabilizing to the human brain in dietary fat, and nothing more destabilizing than a diet based in sugar and starch. Ketone bodies (the energy units of fat) are an abundant, stable and steady source of fuel, even in the absence of regular meals (assuming a state of effective ketogenesis and ketogenic adaptation). Blood sugar surges are enormously destabilizing neurologically, hormonally, immunologically, behaviorally and emotionally.

It is also clear that certain essential fatty acids play a truly critical role in cognitive and brain health. Of course, we are largely speaking about omega-3 fats, EPA and DHA. EPA, in particular has been shown to have a very beneficial effect upon mood. (likely due to its powerful anti-inflammatory potential).[7] DHA, on the other hand is the human brain’s storage form of omega-3 and is more highly associated with memory and cognitive function. There is good evidence that omega-3 supplementation—particularly EPA– has genuine antidepressant effects. And the effect can be pretty quick, too. There is some evidence linking DHA with a variety of benefits, notably a reduced risk of dementia. [8]

Omega-3 fatty acids (again, strictly EPA and DHA—NOT ALA from flax oil, walnuts or chia seeds!) have also shown an ability to help protect against even psychotic illness. In a study back in 2010, researchers based in Australia, Austria and Switzerland sought to assess the impact of omega-3 fats in individuals deemed to be at very high risk of ‘psychotic disorder’ aged 13-25 (psychotic disorders are generally severe mental illnesses that include schizophrenia). The omega-3 fats led to a statistically significant reduction in risk of individuals progressing to a full psychotic disorder over the course of the study: 4.9 per cent of those taking omega-3 became frankly psychotic compared to 27.5 per cent of those taking placebo. Symptoms associated with psychosis were also reduced and functioning was improved by the taking of omega-3 fats. The authors of this study concluded that omega-3 fats:

“Reduce the risk of progression to psychotic disorder and may offer a safe and efficacious strategy for indicated prevention in young people with subthreshold psychotic states”. [9]

There is also evidence that a diet rich in animal sourced omega-3’s, EPA and DHA (and its supplementation with either fish oil or Antarctic krill oil) may be helpful perinatal/postpartem depression (a depressive state that affects new mothers).[10],[11] (Interestingly, the trace mineral, selenium showed some benefit with postpartem depression, as well.[12] ) The same animal-source omega-3’s have been found to improve psychological and cognitive function of older adults.[13],[14],[15] Higher levels of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) in the red blood cells, richly found in 100% grass-fed and finished meat and wild caught fish from cold and uncontaminated waters, is consistently associated with better brain function.[16] 

Another issue lies in the relative balance between omega -3 fatty acids and omega-6’s. The modern day diet tends to be skewed overwhelmingly in favor of excess omega-6 consumption (mostly in the form of cereal grains, processed vegetable oils and feedlot meat, in that order). This excess omega-6 can lead to a relative depletion or relative deficiency of Omega-3’s. This imbalance has been associated with increased incidence of depression, as well as systemic inflammation.[17],[18],[19],[20]

The role of dietary fat and healthy ketogenic adaptation are well-established with respect to their role in helping optimize the functioning of our brain and nervous system. We were absolutely designed to be “fat-heads” and not “grain brains”.

CHOLESTEROL AND YOUR PRIMAL MIND

We also have to consider cholesterol’s role, as well when it comes to our cognitive and affective states. Is also previously mentioned, 25% of the entire repository of cholesterol in the human body resides within the human brain. –One more clue. It is simply not possible to have an optimally functioning brain, much less healthy neurotransmitter activity (our brains’ “feel good” chemicals) without sufficient cholesterol!

Low levels of cholesterol in the brain have been associated with:

  • Endocrine issues
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Mood swings
  • Attention Disorders (ADD/HD, etc.)
  • Cognitive dysfunction, poor memory, dementias, etc.
  • Neurological instability
  • Susceptibility to seizures
  • Mood lability problems
  • Susceptibility to migraines

Several studies since the 1990’s have discovered a significant link between the incidents of what researchers defined as low-cholesterol (below 160 mg/dL) and depression, anxiety, emotional lability, impulsivity, irritability, violent aggression and a variety of unnatural deaths, including particularly suicide.[21],[22],[23],[24],[25],[26],[27],[28],[29],[30],[31],[32] Some of this seems to correspond to the adverse impact that low cholesterol has on serotonin (leading to depression, anxiety, impulsivity, and aggression), as well as the neurotransmitter, GABA (needed to control/attenuate excitatory neurotransmitter activity), opioid signaling (associated with our pleasure centers), and excitatory neurotransmitters. (which in excess can lead to feelings of anxiety, aggression and agitation).

Cholesterol is a functional component of every cell membrane in your body, including those in your brain. Your neurotransmitters wouldn’t function without it. It is required everywhere in the brain as an antioxidant (yes—an antioxidant), and it forges the structural scaffold for your neural network. Interestingly, and not surprisingly, your brain actually soaks up cholesterol/low density lipoproteins like a sponge (mainly as carried by LDL), so obviously it’s something that your brain is hungry for and sees as beneficial. It also turns out that there is a genetic defect that can impair your ability of your brain to take up cholesterol and that this genetic defect is associated with Alzheimer’s disease![33]

SO – What Are the Effects of Sugar and Starch on Your Brain?

Unhealthy and/or chronic surges of blood sugar are a common source of depression, anxiety, mania, mood swings, hyperactivity, irritability, violent tendencies and cognitive/attention-related dysfunction. Chronic blood sugar surges cause magnesium loss, necessary for normal parasympathetic functioning (insulin is needed to store intracellular magnesium. Magnesium is needed to produce and utilize insulin, but insulin resistance interferes with our ability to utilize magnesium, which can lead to both muscle tension, mood changes and high blood pressure. Insulin resistance is depleting of and prevents retention of magnesium) Another issue to consider is that magnesium loss also results in elevated histamine levels (which functions as an excitatory neurotransmitter).

More issues related to the impact of sugar and starch include:

  • Insulin and leptin surges are pro-inflammatory and activate stress hormones associated with anxiety and depression[34][35]
  • Excess carbs lead to increased demand for B-complex (especially B1 and B6) and may readily lead to deficiencies (see previous citation)
  • High carb diets tend to be poor protein utilization diets (as each optimally requires a very different digestive environment)
  • High carbohydrate consumption can lead to yeast overgrowth (which comes with numerous psycho/neuro/emotional symptoms).
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Aggressive behavior[36]
  • Hypoglycemia/Reactive hypoglycemia
  • Premature brain aging, memory issues and cognitive decline[37],[38],[39],[40]

A process known as glycation can have profound implications for the health and aging of your brain. As previously described, glycation is a process by which sugars will bind with proteins and fats and create what are called “advanced glycation end products” (AGE’S) that attract free-radical activity (inflammation) and can impair your brain and memory function. The same sort of damage that is done to the brain in alcoholism or diabetes occurs at a slow, but steady rate when consuming any form of a carbohydrate- (sugar- and/or starch-) rich diet. There simply is no “safety threshold” for sugar. This also has implications for mood lability, cognitive decline and attentional disorders of all kinds.

Loss of magnesium with chronic blood sugar surges leave binding sites potentially vulnerable to accumulations of aluminum (and other toxic metals). This can also result in electrochemical gradient changes allowing more calcium into the cell, leading to subsequent hyperexcitability, NMDA receptor activation and cell death. Not good.

The short list of effects that a sugar and starch-rich diet can have on your brain include (but are not limited to):

  • Serotonin depletion
  • Magnesium depletion (essential for parasympathetic functioning)
  • B-vitamin depletion (needed for neurotransmitter synthesis…etc)
  • B12 insufficiency/malabsorption
  • Irritability
  • Brain fog
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Attentional disorders
  • Depression
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Confusion and memory problems
  • Alcoholism
  • Nervous habits
  • Mental disturbances
  • Eating disorders
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Emotional lability/reactivity

Still got a hankerin’ for that dessert?

Eating a diet high in sugar and starch causes your blood sugar and insulin levels to go on a roller coaster ride (and not the fun kind). Glycemic peaks following the meal are followed by a large release of insulin that drives your blood sugar back down again. Once insulin has driven your blood sugar way down, then all of a sudden your body might feel as though it doesn’t have enough and by the time you have reached for that midmorning doughnut your adrenal glands have released a bunch of cortisol (and/or adrenaline) to help bring your blood sugar back up again. –And so the vicious cycle continues… While your blood sugar is going up and down, so are your moods, your energy, and your cognitive functioning. The rises in blood sugar use up all your B vitamins (that you also need for more consistently healthy moods and energy) and cause your body to lose magnesium along the way (which you need for calm, relaxed, parasympathetic functioning, relaxed muscles and healthy normal blood pressure).

Lots of refined sugar and refined carbohydrates (meaning white bread, pasta, rice and most processed foods,) is also linked with depression because these foods not only supply very little in the way of nutrients but they also use up the mood enhancing B vitamins. In fact, a study of 3,456 middle-aged civil servants, published in British Journal of Psychiatry found that those who had a diet which contained a lot of processed foods had a 58% increased risk for depression, whereas those whose diet could be described as containing more whole foods had a 26% reduced risk for depression. Depression is an increasingly being recognized by researchers as an neuro-inflammatory disorder. Sugar is certainly one potential culprit, as are our low-fat/low cholesterol diets, low-cholesterol levels and immune reactivity to certain foods and substances. –Or some combination thereof.

How do you know if YOU have a blood sugar issue??? 

Symptoms tend to tell the story. Common symptoms associated with reactive hypoglycemic blood sugar issues include fatigue, anxiety, depression and/or crying spells, blurred vision, poor concentration and forgetfulness, irritability, insomnia and dizziness.   Mood swings, aggressive behavior and panic attacks are also quite common. Many people with chronic blood sugar issues also experience excessive sweating, especially at night. Once you’ve eaten, the person with poorly regulated blood sugar tends to either feel more energized or more sleepy. Either isn’t good. When you haven’t eaten anything in a number of hours the only thing you are supposed to feel is simply ‘hungry’. Once you’ve eaten the only thing you’re supposed to feel at that point is ‘not hungry’. That’s it. That’s what’s normal.

 

“A ketogenic diet is the ultimate treatment for sugar addiction!" Colin E. Champ, M.D. Medical Oncologist  

WATER AND OTHER NUTRIENTS FOR BETTER BRAIN FUNCTION

Our bodies are made up of mainly water, and as bioelectric beings, water is the medium through which our nervous system (in partnership with electrolytes–like sodium, potassium, magnesium, and others) conducts its business. Your brain relies on healthy hydration for its optimal health. Dehydration has the capacity to provoke many adverse symptoms, perhaps the most common of which is lethargy – particularly mental lethargy. Study was published in the peer-reviewed journal, Human Brain Mapping. Compared to a better-hydrated state, those in the study who were dehydrated suffered significantly compromised brain function. It seems that a dehydrated brain requires more resources and has to work harder to get the same result. The authors of this study concluded: “Given the limited availability of brain metabolic resources, these findings suggest that prolonged states of reduced water intake may adversely impact executive functions such as planning and visuo-spatial processing.” [41]

What are some other nutrients known to improve your mood and brain function?

DIGESTIVE ISSUES AND YOUR BRAIN 

During human embryonic development there is a common cluster of cells that eventually splits off and forms both your brain and your gut. They actually remain connected throughout your life through a strand of tissue traversing your body known as the Vagus nerve.

 

 

Your brain and gut health are inextricably entwined, and whatever befalls one is likely to affect the other.

In fact, your gut bacteria actually communicate with your brain through this same Vagus nerve link—almost like a telephone line between your brain and your gut! The little buggers can even influence your neurotransmitter function! Recent research shows these gastrointestinal flora can have a direct influence on your brain chemistry, particularly GABAnergic pathways, influencing mood issues, and particularly anxiety. Certain lactobacillus species (rhamnosus) may have a positive modulatory effect on GABA expression in the brain through the Vagus nerve, as well.

One common problem related to digestion that many, many people have and probably don’t know it, is insufficient hydrochloric acid– even if you happen to have symptoms of acid reflux (GERD and reflux symptoms are not due to too much acid being produced in your gut—but instead not enough)! –I talk about this issue at greater length in my book, Primal Body, Primal Mind. Insufficient hydrochloric acid (HCL) production and/or pancreatic insufficiency may impair your ability to properly digest proteins and may create deficiencies of amino acids needed for hormonal/neurotransmitter production. Low HCL will also impair the proper ionization and utilization of key minerals, such as zinc, magnesium, iron and others needed for your healthy brain and cognitive functioning. Impaired HCL production additionally impairs the production of something called Intrinsic Factor, which is required for digestion and absorption of vitamin B12 (deficiencies leading to macrocytic anemia, eventual neurological damage, severe memory dysfunction/dementia and mental instability, irritability and/or paranoia).

THE REST OF YOUR GUT

Biliary (in other words, gallbladder) issues may impair the digestion and absorption of critical fats and essential fat-soluble nutrients, further impairing mineral absorption, healthy DNA expression and proper protein utilization. Despite what some may have tried to convince you, you really DO need your gallbladder!

Dysbiosis (a state of unhealthy bacterial balance/composition in your gut) is commonly found with cases of mood disorders, cognitive dysfunction, anxiety/depression, memory problems and autism (among others). Gut bacteria have a major influential role in brain health and functioning, as well as your mood. Maintaining healthy probiotic colonization of your gut should be a priority with any brain-related issue. Common sources of imbalance can include antibiotic use, drinking fluoridated and/or chlorinated water, eating a diet high in processed foods, and chronic alcohol abuse. Be nice to your internal wildlife!

Another form of dysbiosis called SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) can have an extremely broad array of negative effects. It is only beginning to be understood. One web site; www.SIBOinfo.com can provide you with screening tools and information related to this growing problem.

SIBO is commonly found along with:

  • Mood symptoms (such as depression)
  • Brain symptoms (such as Autism)
  • Anemia (Iron or B12)
  • Celiac Disease
  • Parkinson’s
  • Fatigue
  • Chronic Headaches
  • Malabsorption Symptoms
  • IBS

Just like gluten it will stimulate zonulin and will generate intestinal hyperpermeability on its own. It can show up in Cyrex Labs Array 2 (intestinal permeability) panel as elevated lipopolysaccharide antibodies.

It’s been said that the gut has even more neurons than the brain! Some even refer to it as “the second brain”!

95% of all serotonin production in your body lies not in the brain but in your gut! Gut health has a powerful influence on your brain health! Having a leaky gut also typically means having a leaky blood-brain barrier—as both barriers are regulated by essentially the same mechanisms!   –NOT good! Never neglect digestion or your internal wildlife when considering approaches to mental health issues!

IN SUMMARY

The subject of nutrition and mental health is a vast and complex one. Fortunately, the same foundational principles that help support the health of your body also serve to support the health of your brain. By supplying your brain with the raw materials it needs for its optimal health and functioning, you automatically set the stage for a healthy emotional climate and sharpened cognitive function. Treat your brain well with what you choose to eat and it will treat you well, in return.

Remember: feeling and functioning well in life is YOUR primal birthright!


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[2] Hawks, J. “Selection for smaller brains in Holocene human evolution”

Hum. Biol 60, 395−405 (1988)

[3] Eaton, S Boyd, Eaton, Stanley B III. Evolution, diet and health. Presented in association with the scientific session, Origins and Evolution of Human Diet. 14th International Congress of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences, Williamsburg, Virginia, 1998.

[4] Burns CM1, Chen K, Kaszniak AW, Lee W, Alexander GE, Bandy D, Fleisher AS, Caselli RJ, Reiman EM. Higher serum glucose levels are associated with cerebral hypometabolism in Alzheimer regions. Neurology. 2013 Apr 23;80(17):1557-64. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0b013e31828f17de. Epub 2013 Mar 27.

[5] Chet C. Sherwood, Adam D. Gordon, […], and William D. Hopkins. “Aging of the cerebral cortex differs between humans and chimpanzees.” Proc. Natl.Acad. Sci. USA. Aug 9, 2011; 108(32): 13029-13034

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