Brain Maker: The Power of Gut Microbes to Heal and Protect Your Brain – for Life by David Perlmutter

One of the most life changing books in my life as far as my health was Omnivore’s Dilemma.  I had been suffering indigestion most of my life, and it was getting worse, especially with my diet of fast food and mostly corporate restaurant food.  I didn’t get the connection until I read Omnivore’s Dilemma.  I didn’t realize the extent to which factory and corporate food is toxic and poisonous and detrimental not only to your health but our environment.  Brain Maker is yet another profoundly important book that will positively change your health.  The only difference is that Brain Maker comes across as a bit Infomercial promotional.  While the author has medical credentials and numerous scientific and medical citations and references, the fact that he is promoting himself and his profitable products undermines what is otherwise an incredible, outstanding, amazing, shocking, and life-changing book.  On top of this, since he is not endorsing the existing corrupted medical, healthcare industrial complex, I’m sure they have hired people to undermine and criticize his works.  However, his arguments are compelling and the results of scientific studies undeniable. 

 First off, we all know that eating a healthy diet is good for you.  We know that eating more fiber, vegetables, fruits, and even healthy fats is better than sugar, fried foods, grain, and processed foods.  Omnivore’s Dilemma convinced me that bad food is not just unhealthy, it’s toxic and poisonous.  What this book convinced me is that not only is good food healthy, but it has positive multiplier effects while bad food has far-reaching negative multiplier effects that lead not only to diseases that you may not even think have anything to do with your diet but mood disorders as well.  

 The author is a proponent of Fecal Microbiota Transplant which is basically taking a healthy person’s poop and transplanting it into an unhealthy person’s intestines.  Less invasive, if you can call it that, is probiotic enemas.  I think I’ll stick with simply eating a lot of grass-fed cow yogurt and fermented foods including Kombucha.  While the taste of Kombucha can be a bit intense for the uninitiated, sort of vinegary, I have tasted a Kombucha that was a lot milder tasting.  The author also emphasizes the minimal use of antibiotics not only to preserve your healthy gut bacteria but also to keep bacteria from mutating into superbugs.  The author also encourages fasting which I’ve read about before.  The author doesn’t mention it, but fasting actually causes your cells to clean house and dump all the toxins that get left there when it’s too busy constantly dealing with new material.  As far as nuts, the author does not mention the negative effects of phytic acid which is an anti-nutrient and found in most nuts which acts to protect it from predators.  Past cultures have neutralized phytic acid through soaking and sprouting nuts.  The author mentions the use of parasitic worms to also help your gut bacteria.  I read an article a while back about how parasitic worms can help reduce the body’s immune system overreaction. 

 In the last several years, my diet has improved considerably, and I honestly believe I feel better, I’ve lost fat, and I’m a lot more outgoing.  Of course, this is all mitigated by my excessive drinking, but in the last year, I’ve also started to significantly cut down on that, so I may become more healthy now than ever.  Whether you believe a healthy diet can have such a huge, gigantic positive impact on your health and mood, my advice is simple.  What’s there to lose by trying a healthy diet?  I know breaking the bad diet habit is hard, because it is quite frankly an addiction.  Your brain and body are addicted to fried food, unhealthy fats like processed cheese (especially with pizza), and wonderfully comforting starches like pasta, cake, donuts, and French fries, but what puts me over the top is the idea that these addictive foods are basically toxic poisons that not only destroy your health, but they are making you vulnerable to all sorts of diseases and rotting your brain.  Continuing to feed this addiction is basically giving up on a healthy, good life and quitting.

 The best way to honor this book is to simply list all the powerful parts verbatim.  I highly, strongly encourage you to read the book yourself, so I hope these quotes will motivate you.  At the very least, if you can’t afford the book or just don’t like reading, you can also get a lot out of these quotes:

 scientific research is bringing more and more credence to the notion that up to 90 percent of all known human illness can be traced back to an unhealthy gut.

 It’s now undeniable that our intestinal organisms participate in a wide variety of physiologic actions, including immune system functioning, detoxification, inflammation, neurotransmitter and vitamin production, nutrient absorption, signaling being hungry or full, and utilizing carbohydrates and fat. All of these processes factor mightily into whether or not we experience allergies, asthma, ADHD, cancer, diabetes, or dementia. The microbiome affects our mood, libido, metabolism, immunity, and even our perception of the world and the clarity of our thoughts.

 Perhaps no other system in the body is more sensitive to changes in gut bacteria than the central nervous system, especially the brain.

 The mitochondria can in fact be considered a third dimension to our microbiome; they have a unique relationship with the microbiome in our guts.

 And it turns out that the population of bacteria in the gut directly affects the stimulation and function of the cells along the vagus nerve. Some of the gut’s microbes can actually release chemical messengers, just as our neurons do, that speak to the brain in their own language through the vagus nerve. When you think of your nervous system, you probably picture your brain and spinal cord. But that’s just the central nervous system. You must also consider your intestinal or enteric nervous system, the one that’s intrinsic to the gastrointestinal tract.

 You may be surprised to find out that an estimated 80 to 90 percent of the amount of serotonin in your body is manufactured by the nerve cells in your gut! 6 In fact, your gut’s brain makes more serotonin— the master happiness molecule— than the brain in your head does. Many neurologists and psychiatrists are now realizing that this may be one reason why antidepressants are often less effective in treating depression than dietary changes are.

 all manner of disease is rooted in inflammation run amok, and your immune system controls inflammation.

 That is to say, the good bacteria can turn off that chronic immune system response. They can also help keep in check cortisol and adrenaline— the two hormones associated with stress that can wreak havoc on the body when they are continually flowing.

 I should also point out that the line between “good” and “bad” bacteria isn’t as clear as you might assume. Again, overall diversity and the ratios of strains relative to one another are the important factors. In the wrong ratio, certain strains that can have positive effects on health can turn into villains.

 What makes Lactobacillus so superior is that it creates a slightly acidic environment, which reduces the growth of potentially dangerous bacteria.

 The point is that transmission of microbes from one generation to the next is a fundamental process of life.

 Elevated blood sugar stirs up inflammation in the bloodstream, as excess sugar can be toxic if it’s not swept up and used by cells.

 Anthropological research reveals that our hunter-gatherer ancestors consumed omega-6 and omega-3 fats in a ratio of roughly 1: 1.34 Today we consume an astronomical ten to twenty-five times more omega-6 fats than those ancestors did.

 For women in their forties and fifties, one in four take an antidepressant.

 Not only do our gut’s microbes control the production of inflammatory chemicals in the body that factor into mental health, but they control our ability to absorb certain nutrients— such as omega-3 fats— and manufacture vitamins key to mental health.

 The underlying theory was that if you’re anxious to begin with, you’ll be more reactive to negativity, such as emotionally charged images or words. Indeed, the Oxford researchers documented that, as compared to the placebo group, the individuals who’d taken the prebiotic paid more attention to positive information and less attention to negative information.

 lower-income children are far more likely to be treated with drugs.

 children who were born by C-section had triple the risk of ADHD.

 Blood sugar increases lead to a depletion of important neurotransmitters, including serotonin, epinephrine, norepinephrine, GABA, and dopamine.

 one such missing microbe that’s associated with regulating hunger is Helicobacter pylori, which helps control appetite by affecting levels of ghrelin, the main hormone that stimulates appetite.

 Why is fructose particularly offensive? Not only does it feed pathogenic gut bacteria, thereby disrupting a healthy microbial balance, but fructose does not stimulate insulin production as glucose does.

 Although we used to think that sugar substitutes like saccharin, sucralose, and aspartame didn’t have a metabolic impact because they don’t raise insulin, it turns out that they can indeed wreak tremendous metabolic havoc and cause the same metabolic disorders as real sugar.

 New science reveals that exercise positively influences the gut’s balance of bacteria to favor colonies that prevent weight gain.

 In the states where obesity rates are highest, so is antibiotic use. And the South wins the award for being the most overweight and overprescribed.

 Epigenetics, defined more technically, is the study of sections of your DNA (called “marks” or “markers”) that essentially tell your genes when and how strongly to express themselves.

 Moreover, in another watershed study published in 2013, French researchers had followed more than 66,000 women since 1993 and found that the risk for developing diabetes was more than double for those who drank artificially sweetened drinks than it was for women who consumed sugar-sweetened beverages.

 high fructose can cause bacteria to exit the intestines, go into the bloodstream, and damage the liver.

 Research shows that modern wheat is capable of producing more than 23,000 different proteins, any one of which could trigger a potentially damaging inflammatory response.

 Lo and behold, the researchers found a clear link between the number of days of antibiotic use and an increased risk of breast cancer. In those individuals who’d taken the most antibiotics, the risk of breast cancer was doubled.

 Traces of 232 synthetic chemicals have been found in the umbilical cord blood of infants at birth.

 The two in particular that should be avoided as much as possible are pesticides and chlorine.

 However, municipal water tends to be overtreated, resulting in a chemical mixture that’s toxic to the gut bacteria.

 It just may be that the rise in gluten intolerance and celiac disease is largely due to the increased use of RoundUp ®.

 Avoid storing food in plastic containers and plastic wrap made from PVC (which has the recycling code “3”). • Ditch plastic water bottles (or at least avoid plastics marked with a “PC” for polycarbonate, or the recycling label “7”).

 calorie restriction enriches strains of bacteria that are associated with increased lifespan, and reduces those strains that are “negatively correlated with lifespan.”

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