Gut Bacteria & Its Role In Brain Health

New York Times #1 best-selling author Dr. David Perlmutter is a board-certified neurologist and Fellow of the American College of Nutrition. He lectures worldwide on the important roles of nutrition and other lifestyle choices in brain health. His book Brain Maker, reveals the powerful role of probiotic gut bacteria in brain health and is filled with practical, user-friendly advice that will pave the way for better brain function and enhanced resistance to brain related diseases

Modern medicine seems to be taking the notion of reductionism to a whole new level. Medical disciplines are becoming more and more specialized and this continues to foster the notion that individual body parts and systems function independent of one another. Clearly, this mentality stands in stark contradiction to the idea of holism as it relates to health and wellness. A holistic perspective is one that celebrates the interrelationships between body systems and embraces the notion that optimal health will result when this approach is implemented.

Fortunately, leading edge research in mainstream medical journals is now recognizing, for example, a powerful interrelationship that exists between the gut and the brain.

It has now become quite evident that the gut is a microbiome, meaning the gut bacteria and their genetic material exert powerful influence over various domains of metabolism that play a critical role in both brain health and functionality.

It is now well recognized that the process of inflammation plays a pivotal role in every manner of nontraumatic neurological diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease, autism, Parkinson’s disease, depression, and multiple sclerosis just to name a few. So, with the understanding that the human microbiome strongly influences the “set point” of inflammation, the care and feeding of the microbiome takes on a new level of importance.

Recently, there has been a lot of interest in exploring the activity of various probiotic organisms in terms of their effect upon systemic inflammation. This research has been extended to evaluating how certain species of probiotic organisms actually affect the brain. And the results have been compelling.

But beyond looking at specific species and even strains of commercially available probiotic organisms, it’s also important to take a step back and recognize that prebiotics, products that enhance the growth of beneficial gut organisms, are also worthy of consideration in discussions related to brain health.

One of the most exciting prebiotics that is getting a lot of attention is the gum of the acacia tree, known as gum Arabic or acacia gum. Oral supplementation with gum arabic has been demonstrated to significantly increase populations of health supporting  Bifidobacteria as well as Lactobacilli species when compared to inulin, a prebiotic commonly used in commercial nutritional products. In addition, gum Arabic has been shown to decrease potentially threatening species such as Clostridium difficile.

Another role for prebiotics is to serve as a substrate for the bacterial production of important metabolic chemicals known as short chain fatty acids. Butyrate is a short chain fatty acid that has been described as representing the “preferred fuel” for the cells lining the colon. And research confirms that acacia gum has a fairly dramatic ability to enhance the production of this important metabolic fuel.

Prebiotic fiber products are gaining more and more attention, and for good reason. By augmenting the growth of immune balancing, inflammation reducing probiotics organisms, as well as enhancing the production of metabolically important short chain fatty acids, incorporating prebiotic foods into your diet offers up significant health benefits. Foods rich in prebiotics include Jerusalem artichoke, onions, garlic, jicama, and dandelion greens. To gain a more complete understanding of the role of gut microbes and the effect of certain foods on our gut and brain, order Brain Maker on Amazon now.


8/4/2020 7:00:00 AM
David Perlmutter, MD, FACN, ABIHM
Dr. Perlmutter is a Board-Certified Neurologist and Fellow of the American College of Nutrition who received his M.D. degree from the University of Miami School of Medicine where he was awarded the Leonard G. Rowntree Research Award. He has published extensively in peer-reviewed scientific journals including Archives of ...
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On nearly all weight loss programs "exercise" is highly touted. I want to exercise but am severely limited in my ability to do so. I have severe arthritis in both knees, degerative disc disease which has resulted in laminectomy of C5/C6 in 1999, a meniscus tumor in the dura of my spine which resulted in the dissection of my spine in 2011, sinus obliteration, brain surgery to remove and treat bacterial infection in 2014. I am trying not to have knee replacement surgery but am afraid it's a losing battle. I can swim, for a very short while but walking longer than 5 minutes or any other impact exercises is futile because I become bedridden for days. I am losing weight. I have lost over 130 pounds in the last 5 years which is very slow I know but it's stayed off. I am losing approximately 1-1/2 pounds per week now - steadily. But I know I need to do some type of exercises. Can someone help me? I am currently about to start a PT regime to strengthen the stronger of my knees next week but I can't afford $25 co-pay twice a week forever. Help PLEASE!!
Posted by Pamrojo
The microbiota of the gut is definitely important in the prevention of neurological disease, but diet is even more important, and I commented on this in a recent blog post
Posted by Mark Scheurer, MD
I am a disciple Dr. Perlmutter. Read Grain Brain and started implementing it on 2/25/14. Lost 50 lbs and got A1C from 6.5 to 5.3 as of March 2015. I've purchased at least 15 copies of the book for family and friends. Can't wait for the new book!
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