Nowadays, we can associate a wide variety of systematic conditions with the quality of our gut health. Indeed, multiple publications can explain the link between intestinal health, microbial diversity, and its interaction with our lymphatic and immune systems. Furthermore, Mayo Clinic researchers have found an undeniable connection with our immune system through lymph nodes discovery in our brain. These new findings affirm that our intestinal health influences our brain via the bloodstream, nerves, lymphatic and immune system.
The promotion and maintenance of functional gut health are determined by multiple factors that coexist and create intestinal balance. Furthermore, this balance is extensively promoted by our dietary intake and environment. Indeed, having a varied and balanced diet including fruits, starchy and leafy vegetables, whole grains, antioxidants from spices, and fermented foods are essential to promote intestinal health.
- Diverse but balanced gut bacteria will function as a protective layer and produce beneficial metabolites and vitamins.
- Healthy gut bacteria such as Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacteria metabolites counteract harmful bacteria in the intestine, maintaining intestinal balance.
- The production of lactoperoxidase destroys unhealthy bacteria. Lactoferrin locks dietary iron, starving harmful bacteria, and globulin protein prevent adhesion from unwanted pathogens.
In contrast, the ingestion of a standard American diet in conjunction with antibiotics overuse, sedentary lifestyle, and stress lead to:
- Protective factors such as lactoferrin, lactoperoxidase, and globulin inhibition.
- The proliferation of unhealthy bacteria, yeast, and intestinal deterioration are due to the lack of bacteria-induced metabolites.
- Increase of toxic accumulation.
Dysbiosis, leaky gut, and immune response.
The term “Leaky gut” has been changed to “leakage of lipopolysaccharides.” Indeed, these terms describe the passing of lipopolysaccharides (LPS), gram-negative bacteria-produced glycolipids, through the intestinal wall.
Furthermore, the leakage of LPS through our gut wall is associated with a high release of proinflammatory cytokines, such as IL-1 and TNF-a, and promoting complement releasing mechanisms.
Dysfunction from gut to brain
As previously stated, our brain has multiple communication paths with our digestive system, and therefore guy health. Indeed, the bloodstream carries the nutrients and their interaction with the blood-brain barrier. Also, the sensory information is transported through the nervous system, and the lymphatic system shares essential news with the brain.
Nevertheless, the interaction between this communication system and our environment plays a significant role. Furthermore, Dr. Vojdani explains that several factors play an essential role in brain-gut dysbiosis.
- An unhealthy diet, a sedentary lifestyle, and poor stress management.
- Leaky gut and dysbiosis.
- Inflammatory response to LPS.
- Damage of the enteric-nervous system.
- Systematic inflammation, leading to immune disease flare-ups.
- Blood-brain barrier leakage, leading to neuroinflammation and neuroautoimmunity.
- Neuroinvasion and neurodegeneration.
When treating a patient, the Functional Medicine approach starts treating the gut. In most cases, the conditions disrupting the patient’s health stop, and resolution begin. Nevertheless, in the specific case of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, the route to the cure is only one: prevention. Nowadays, having a healthy, varied, and complete diet is crucial to maintaining a healthy microbiome. I know that if we focus on balancing our gut microbiota and keeping leaky gut… I am sorry LPS leakage away; we can ensure a healthy future.- Ana Paola Rodriguez Arciniega, MS
Vojdani, Aristo et al. “Interaction between food antigens and the immune system: Association with autoimmune disorders.” Autoimmunity reviews vol. 19,3 (2020): 102459. doi:10.1016/j.autrev.2020.102459
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