Leaky Gut, Leaky Brain

Brain Fog: The Gut’s Role in Brain Health

By Bryan Carroll CFMP, NTP, FAFS

December 16, 2015

Do you experience consistent issues with concentration, remembering thoughts or ideas, or mood changes? These are all signs you could be feeling Brain Fog, which can be crippling to your every day activities. Why do we develop Brain Fog, and what are some ways to combat this issue?

How a Leaky Gut can Affect Brain Health

First we need to have a little understanding of what Leaky Gut is. Your gut lining has really tight junctions that only allow properly broken down nutrients to pass through. If you are not properly digesting your foods, or ingest foods that cause inflammation in your body, these tight junctions will become inflamed and will allow larger particles to enter your blood stream. This can become problematic because the cells in the body know what to do with nutrients that are completely broken down, but nutrients that aren't broken down are seen as invaders.

The brain needs a lot of blood flow in order to function. If the permeability of the intestinal lining has been compromised and the blood is filling with undigested food particles, those particles will make their way to the brain. Not only will the large particles cause abrasions within the blood vessels, the body’s immune system will respond and attack the particles. Now you have a full fledge war going on in your brain, which creates massive amounts of inflammation in the brain tissues.

The inflammation in the brain has a very similar process as the gut. Once inflamed, the tight junctions in the brain tissue (known as the blood brain barrier, or BBB) will relax and allow the oversized particles to move in and create havoc. The immune system will follow the particles and continue to attack, creating even more inflammation! This will continue to happen until you take care of the root cause!

How to Lower Inflammation in the Brain

You must first address the root cause to the inflammation. This could be diet related, toxins from the environment, infections, stress, or many other variables. Whatever the main cause may be, you must work to improve that area of your life in order to improve your brain fog. Diet is key for any repair program, and should be taken very seriously not only for repairing the gut/brain, but as maintenance for the entire body. Remember, nutrients are what give every single cell the energy needed to function. You can follow a strict diet, avoiding common allergens such as dairy and gluten, or by guided support with a professional who will test to see exactly what foods don't work for your body. Finding the right supplemental support is also key to lessen the inflammation. Support could be essential fatty acids, neurotransmitter support, or anti-inflammatory botanicals for the brain.

Maintaining a healthy brain is key to preserving cognitive function and to age gracefully. Seniors who have lived healthy lives and have healthy diets will see very little decline in cognitive abilities compared to much younger people who live unhealthy lives or have been exposed to more toxins. A leaky blood brain barrier will endanger your memory and may influence the body's ability to function properly.

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About the author

Bryan Carroll CFMP, NTP, FAFS

Bryan Carroll is a certified Functional Medicine Practitioner and Movement Therapist who helps the outdoors community to reduce injuries and improve their health so they can get back to exploring nature. His big health crisis from mold exposure taught him the importance of finding the root causes to illnesses so you can take back control of your life. He is also the host of the Summit For Wellness Podcast.

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