New medical research that has recently come out shows that the food we eat affects our brain health in more ways than we ever could have imagined.
Our brain has what’s called a blood brain barrier and this barrier acts as a gatekeeper to moderate the exchange of molecules and nutrients between the blood/circulatory system and the brain, the barrier also ensures that balance of the central nervous system is kept in tact.
It is VERY important for our blood brain barrier to be healthy because it affects the proper functioning of neurons. If there is leakage of molecules and nutrients entering the brain that shouldn’t really be there, you can only imagine that we’d experience all types of negative consequences.
So let’s dig into how the blood brain barrier is affected.
Gut Bugs and Our Brain
We have trillions of microbiota living in our intestines, trillions. These are the bacteria that help to digest our food but they are also involved in regulating many important functions in our body.
Gut bugs help:
- Regulate neurotransmitters
- Synaptogenesis – the formation of synapses between neurons of the nervous system. The synapses allow the electrical current and information to pass effectively from one neuron to another
- Neurotrophic factors – proteins responsible for the health of neurons
- Improve our immune function
- And balance the central nervous system
What we eat can change the types of microbiota (gut bugs) that live inside our intestine. When we eat a healthy diet it helps influence the growth of bacterial colonies that are promoting healthy brain function. When we eat an unhealthy diet it promotes the growth of bacterial colonies that can lead to dysfunction of the blood brain barrier.
We have tight junctions in the brain that restrict diffusion of substances from the blood to the brain. Tight junctions are proteins that are active in this process of protection but these tight junctions can change. They can express themselves differently, they can change location, and they can also become modified and disorganized.
This disruption of the tight junctions can happen as a result of disease or drugs and lead to the impairment of the blood brain barrier. Disease in our body can become present from eating the wrong foods, and from changes to the gut bacteria.
So again, what we eat can influence the health of our brain!
This recent discovery in medical science has only been tested on mice but it is no doubt true for humans also. Animal studies are still valid because it’s just not ethical to do these types of necessary studies on humans.
For example, they used 2 groups of mice with different microbiota and injected dyes into their brains while testing the proteins that help regulate the endothelial tight junction cells in the brain. We just couldn’t ethically do this type of study in humans, which is why we use animals. When they took the microbiota from the healthy mice and placed them inside the unhealthy mice, the blood brain barrier integrity increased again.
Eating a healthy diet Influences Gut Bacteria
Studies have shown that eating a healthy diet high in fiber from fruits and vegetables affects the type of gut bacteria we host in our body. It’s quite amazing that this gut bacteria has such a far reaching effect on our health and personally I find it truly fascinating.
Currently microbiota is a very large field of research because we are only just discovering just how much this gut bacteria really matters for healthy immune function and disease prevention.
So the moral of the story is to eat a very healthy diet. Again, research shows it’s definitely the best way to go!!!
Nutritionist & Health Coach
P.S. What are your thoughts about this? I’d love to know so leave your comments or questions below and we can talk about it 🙂
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