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David Perlmutter M.D. - Empowering Neurologist: The food, the facts, the science to control your genetic destiny.

How does simply moving around affect the brain? For the past several years I’ve been doing my best to get out the information that shows how aerobic exercise benefits the brain by increasing the growth of new brain cells, as well as reducing the risk for brain degeneration. However, it looks like most adults are not achieving the 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity/week recommended by the 2018 US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Physical Activity Guidelines. In fact, this level of physical activity is only achieved by 57% of adults aged 40-49, and a paltry 26% of those aged 60-69.

That said, researchers recently set about exploring whether simply moving around would have a beneficial impact on brain health. They designed a study of 2,354 participants (with an average age of 53) that ran for three years. The subjects wore an accelerometer that basically determined both the number of steps they took each day as well as the intensity level of their activity.

At the conclusion of the study the subjects underwent brain MRI scanning to determine the volume of their brains.

The results of the study are really quite profound and empowering. Taking more steps each day, even at light intensity, was associated with larger total cerebral brain volume. Compared to those who averaged less than 5,000 steps per day, taking 10,000 steps per day was associated with approximately 1.75 less years of brain aging. Each additional hour of being active each day, even if characterized as light intensity, was associated with a further reduction in brain aging, as determined by brain volume, by 1.1 years.

Wow. Talk about anti-aging medicine! Here’s what this looks like graphically, broken down by age group.

The authors of this study concluded:

Every additional hour of light-intensity physical activity was associated with higher brain volumes, even among individuals not meeting current physical activity guidelines. These data are consistent with the notion that the potential benefits of physical activity on brain aging may accrue at a lower, more achievable level of intensity or duration.

So if you choose not to engage in moderate physical activity for 20-30 minutes a day, it looks like, based on this study, simply reducing the time that you are sedentary will still likely offer up some important brain benefits. One simple way to make this more likely is by reducing screen time, for example, in all of its forms. So thanks for reading, but I think now you should stand up from your chair, or put the phone down, and take a walk around the block, or perhaps for a cup of (black) coffee or tea. Just get moving!

The post Move Your Body – Love Your Brain appeared first on David Perlmutter M.D..

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David Perlmutter M.D. - Empowering Neurologist: The food, the facts, the science to control your genetic destiny.

Understanding the relationship between less healthful dietary and lifestyle choices and developing type-2 diabetes, a recent study linking the brain’s center for impulsive behavior and diabetes risk was really interesting.

The research was performed at the Massachusetts General Hospital and involved 232 non-diabetic subjects. These individuals underwent brain-imaging studies that measured the metabolic activity of their amygdalas, an area of the brain that is involved with fear, stress, and impulsivity.

Researchers demonstrated that individuals with an amygdala that showed higher activity were much more likely to later develop diabetes. This risk seemed to be independent of obesity. Even the risk for insulin resistance, the harbinger for diabetes, also correlated with increased activity in the amygdala.

There are a lot of interesting ideas that this relationship brings to mind. First, the amygdala is activated by stress. Stress also increases the level of cortisol hormone in the blood, which may then go on to increase blood sugar, setting the stage for diabetes. Second, stress, by activating the amygdala, may lead to more impulsivity as opposed to better self-regulating behavior, and this may have an impact on lifestyle choices like diet, exercise, stress management strategies, and sleep quality. Remember that these are all lifestyle choices that are associated with increased blood glucose, as well as risk for diabetes. Finally, inflammation is associated with both increased activity of the amygdala as well as diabetes. So making poor lifestyle choices that elevate inflammation in the body might underlie this relationship.

It’s hard to pinpoint which of these explanations is most operative – likely all are contributing. But it’s clear that whatever is connecting the increase in activity of the amygdala to future diabetes risk might well be targeted by reducing stress, eating a diet that’s less inflammatory, getting more exercise, and making sure that amount and quality of sleep is prioritized. Attention to these choices may open the door to less impulsive behavior, better decision making ability, and reduced risk for diabetes, which is now a virtual epidemic in America.

For more of the latest science and information about diabetes, visit our focus page.

The post Diabetes Risk and Impulsivity appeared first on David Perlmutter M.D..

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David Perlmutter M.D. - Empowering Neurologist: The food, the facts, the science to control your genetic destiny.

Anxiety has become exceedingly widespread in adult Americans. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, over 18% of American adults – 40 million people – suffer from anxiety at any given moment while nearly a third of us will experience symptoms of anxiety disorder at some point in our lifetimes. Incredibly, the average age of onset is 11 years. Women are 60% more likely to experience anxiety disorder during the course of their lifetime in comparison to men.

These numbers are impressive and clearly support our understanding as to why people are seeking out approaches, aside from pharmaceuticals, that can be helpful.

This commentary explains the growing interest in cannabidiol, CBD, as a more natural approach to dealing with anxiety, and with good reason. Well-conducted clinical trials have already demonstrated the effectiveness of CBD in anxiety. As an example, in a 2019 study, researchers at the University of Colorado conducted a retrospective study involving 57 adults with anxiety or sleep complaints. The most common dosage of CBD used by these study participants was 25mg daily. Using standardized statistics for anxiety analysis, the researchers demonstrated a dramatic decrease in anxiety scores early in the study in 79% of the subjects. What’s more, the improvement in anxiety persisted throughout the entire 3-month study. This study was conducted in an “open-label” format meaning that subjects knew they were receiving the CBD.

CBD is a non-psychoactive derivative of the cannabis plant. It has actions far different from psychoactive THC, for example, and how it may specifically work to help with anxiety is now being revealed. CBD binds to a specific nerve receptor in the brain call the 5-HT1A serotonin receptor. This is the same receptor that is targeted by various SSRI medications like Prozac and Zoloft, which may also have some effectiveness in treating anxiety by virtue of this action. These drugs act by blocking the reabsorption of serotonin, allowing more serotonin to be available to stimulate the 5-HT1A receptor. So, in a sense, CBD acts similarly by increasing activation of this mood-regulating receptor. Recently, researchers in Spain discovered that CBD, in the research animal, actually enhances 5-HT1A response even faster than serotonin itself.

Public speaking is certainly an anxiety-producing situation for many people. So, looking at the effectiveness of CBD in this situation does provide some sense as to its role, generally, in anxiety. In a study published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology researchers compared CBD to a placebo in individuals with generalized social anxiety disorder subjected to a simulated public speaking test. These volunteers then underwent an evaluation to determine their level of anxiety, including blood pressure, heart rate, and skin conduction. They were also given specific standardized tests that measure the levels of subjective anxiety in response to a stressful situation (the public speaking challenge).

The results of this study demonstrated a significant reduction in anxiety in subjects exposed to the public speaking challenge if they had received CBD versus a placebo. Interestingly, the results were the same whether the individuals carried a diagnosis of social anxiety disorder, or not.

CBD offers up a unique opportunity to deal with anxiety quite apart from relying upon synthetic pharmaceuticals. As with any intervention, it’s important to consider the operating philosophy of “above all, do no harm.” This brings up the important consideration of the safety of CBD in humans. To address this, an Expert Committee of the World Health Organization reviewed as much data as is available regarding the possibility of adverse reactions to CBD and concluded:

CBD does not produce the effects that are typically seen with cannabinoids such as THC. It also failed to produce significant effects in a human study of abuse potential …. Across a number of controlled and open label trials CBD of the potential therapeutic effects of CBD it is generally well tolerated, with a good safety profile. …While the number of studies is limited, the evidence from well controlled human experimental research indicates that CBD is not associated with abuse potential.

Anxiety is a pervasive and often significantly compromising experience. Understanding that there are non-pharmaceutical options to help ameliorate the symptoms associated with anxiety is empowering. Current science validates the addition of CBD to the list of other approaches to help with anxiety, like limiting caffeine, paying attention to sleep quality, and exercise.

And its safety profile is yet another reason to consider CBD in anxiety management.

Want to learn more about the potential health benefits of CBD? Consider discovering the role it can play in reducing inflammation and preventing the onset of osteoporosis.

The post CBD – Offering Hope for Anxiety appeared first on David Perlmutter M.D..

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David Perlmutter M.D. - Empowering Neurologist: The food, the facts, the science to control your genetic destiny.

By the Dr. Perlmutter Team

As previously discussed, there are significant nutritional differences between the meat produced by cows that eat grass and those that subsist on grain. Beef from cows that eat only grass contains higher concentrations of essential nutrients, omega-3 fatty acids, and conjugated linoleic acid. It also has lower levels of hormones, antibiotics and other toxic remnants from the industrial production process, which can have significant ramifications on our health, ranging from the microbiome to cellular health. Additionally, grass-fed cows live out their lives more closely aligned with how nature intended—freely roaming pasture land and consuming grasses available to them in their immediate environment—which makes the process more humane and environmentally-friendly.

However, like many of the buzzwords surrounding healthy living, there’s a lot of confusion and outright deception that surrounds the “grass-fed” descriptor. While certain trade organizations do their best to impose uniform standards, the use of the term “grass-fed” is, unfortunately, not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration or the United States Department of Agriculture. This sadly leaves the label open to abuse by unscrupulous producers looking to harvest the benefit of the term without putting in the effort to truly raise grass-fed cattle. The process of getting the “grass-fed” label approved on packaging for a given farm’s beef is incredibly lax, and actually doesn’t even include a farm inspection! Essentially, the government takes farms at their word when determining whether or not their product should be labeled grass-fed.

What Does Grain-Fed Mean?

At the root of this issue is the fact that all cows begin their lives in the same way: for the first seven months, they subsist on a combination of their mother’s milk and the grass and plants available to them in their immediate environment. Between seven and nine months, however, industrially-raised cattle are moved to enormous feedlots, where they are kept in confined stalls and hastily fattened with soy- or corn-based feed. These cows are what we commonly call grain-fed and produce meat that is inferior to grass-fed beef in quality, nutritional value, and taste.

What Does Grass-Fed Mean?

As the advantages of grass-fed beef have become more and more apparent, farmers across the country have started to label their products grass-fed. Unfortunately, this label means very little because there is very little regulation surrounding its use. Producers can technically label meat produced by cows that transition to a grain-based diet at seven to nine months “grass-fed” because they started out their lives subsisting on grass. They can also supplement a grain-heavy diet with small amounts of dried grasses and call the cows “grass-fed,” even if the vast majority of their nutrients come from grains.

So how can you ensure the meat you are buying is truly grass-fed and has all the benefits we’ve outlined in our previous articles? Look for the “grass-finished” label!

What Does Grass-Finished Mean?

Meat that has been designated “grass-finished” is much more likely to come from cows that consumed only grass throughout their entire lives. While this term is still not tightly regulated, it is much harder for unscrupulous purveyors to develop workarounds for this label. In order to call meat “grass-finished,” the cow that it came from must have been “finished” with grass, meaning it ate only grass through to the end of its life. Given that all cows’ eat the same thing at the beginning of their lives, the critical information in determining the quality of the meat they will produce is what they ate at the end of it. Therefore, the “grass-finished” label is a much better indicator of quality because it directly answers that question.

Why Grass-Finished is a Healthful Choice

To summarize, meat sourced from grass-finished cows is far more nutritious, beneficial, and safe than meat sourced from grain-fed cattle, which has skewed nutrient profiles and contains harmful chemical by-products from the industrial cattle-rearing process. Grain-fed cows produce meat that is both dramatically higher in inflammatory omega-6 fats and deficient in healthful omega-3s. This is doubly harmful considering the ratio, or relative amount, of these compounds may be more important than their absolute levels in the blood. Furthermore, meat from grass-finished cows doesn’t contain toxic remnants of the antibiotics and hormones used to raise their grain-fed counterparts.

One study, published in the Journal Antibiotics in 2017, demonstrated just how readily remnants of the antibiotics used in industrial farming can be found in the food we eat. The study analyzed 150 samples of raw meat purchased from supermarkets in South Africa and found elevated levels of four common antibiotics—ciprofloxacin, streptomycin, tetracycline, and sulphanilamide—in a significant portion of them. This transfer of antibiotics from the industrial farming process to our dinner plates has wide-ranging implications on global and individual health. When one considers that antibiotics are primarily used to shield livestock from diseases that are directly caused by their enclosure in industrial feedlots, it becomes readily apparent why grass-finished cattle that roam freely until the end of their lives produce higher quality beef.

Unfortunately, because the term “grass-fed” is not well-regulated, we need to be vigilant in our food choices. Shopping for grass-finished beef will help you ensure your meat is truly from cows that only consumed grass. Hopefully, this article has empowered you to be a more conscious consumer when it comes to shopping for grass-fed beef, so you can truly enjoy its benefits!

When speaking about the nuances in choosing the highest quality meat, we receive many questions from folks who struggle to find grass-finished, antibiotic free, beef in their local supermarkets. For these people, I always recommend the company that I trust to deliver high-quality beef, ButcherBox. I’ve partnered with ButcherBox to provide exclusive offers to our community for those that are interested. They take the guesswork out of meat sourcing and better yet, deliver right to your door!

You can check out the latest offer for the Empowering Neurologist community here.

The post Differences Between Grass-Fed, Grass-Finished, and Grain-Fed Beef appeared first on David Perlmutter M.D..

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David Perlmutter M.D. - Empowering Neurologist: The food, the facts, the science to control your genetic destiny.

By the Dr. Perlmutter Team

Americans eat a lot of meat. In 2018, the United States Department of Agriculture projected that the average person would consume over two hundred pounds of chicken, pork, and beef by year’s end. That’s more than half a pound daily per capita, every day of the year! While it is possible to consume an omnivorous diet and maintain a healthy lifestyle, we recommend viewing meat as a garnish or side dish rather than the focus of your meal. The perfect plate is full of colorful, above-ground leafy vegetables and healthy fats, with a three-to-four ounce serving of meat. Furthermore, should you choose to consume meat, it’s very important to remember that not all meat is created equally.

One of the most important factors in determining the overall quality of meat—especially red meat—is the dietary patterns of the livestock that produced it. When you think about it, this makes perfect sense: the food an animal consumes is used by their body to grow and develop, and, ultimately, becomes the very food that we consume. Feeding cattle a nutrient-poor diet will, in turn, produce a nutrient-poor food source, compared to cattle fed a natural, nutritious diet.

As it turns out, the age-old adage “You are what you eat” applies to cattle, too!

Grass-Fed and Finished vs. Grain-Fed Cattle

A significant portion of meat consumed in Western countries comes from animals raised on unnatural, grain-based diets in massive industrial feedlots, with the aid of antibiotics and growth hormones. This approach to animal husbandry produces meat that is significantly higher in inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids. Because inflammation underpins the pathogenesis of so many of the diseases we face, sourcing high quality protein is critical in the context of a healthy diet and lifestyle.

Generally speaking, bovine dietary patterns can generally be split into two groups: grass-fed and grain-fed. It’s important to note that grass-fed does NOT necessarily mean that the cow is grass-finished. You should be wary of beef that can make the “grass-fed” claim, but not “grass-finished”. (We’ll explain the nuances of these definitions in this blog post.)

In the United States, all calves generally begin their lives the same way, regardless of whether or not they will ultimately end up producing grain- or grass-finished meat. For the first seven months of their lives, they subsist on a combination of their mother’s milk and the grass and plants available to them in their immediate environment. Between seven and nine months old, however, industrially-raised cattle are moved to enormous feedlots, where they are kept in confined stalls and hastily fattened with soy- or corn-based feed. In dire straits, some farmers have even resorted to supplementing what grain they can afford with stale candy to lower their feed costs. Grain-fed cows are also usually pumped full of medications, including antibiotics and growth hormones, to maximize the profitability of their eventual slaughter.

On the other hand, grass-fed and finished cows spend their lives foraging for the grass, plants, and edible flowers that surround them in open-range pastures, as they did for centuries before the advent of industrial farming. Because these cows are eating and roaming as nature intended, they do not require growth hormones and antibiotics to thrive and survive like their grain-fed counterparts. Furthermore, these cows live far more humane and environmentally-friendly lives than their industrially-raised brethren. While many industrial farmers will challenge the notion that grass-fed cows have a lower environmental impact than their grain-fed counterparts, the reality is that raising grass-fed cows requires fewer antibiotics and harmful agricultural chemicals, and does not create the massive concentrations of waste that a feedlot produces. The fact that these cows live more humane and environmentally-friendly lives does not necessarily impact the nutritional value of their meat, but we believe that these factors should absolutely be considered in a decision about which type of beef to consume.

What Difference Does It Make?

Why does grass-fed and finished really matter?

In short, the meat sourced from grass-fed cows is far more nutritious, beneficial, and environmentally friendly than the meat sourced by grain-fed cattle, which has skewed nutrient profiles and is full of harmful chemical by-products from the industrial cattle-rearing process. Grain-fed cows produce meat that is both dramatically higher in inflammation-producing omega-6 fats and deficient in healthful omega-3s. This is doubly harmful considering the ratio of these compounds is actually more important than their absolute levels in the blood. Generally speaking, Americans consume a disproportionate amount of omega-6s, relative to omega-3s. Furthermore, because grass-fed and finished cows are not exposed to the suite of hormones and medications that their grain-fed counterparts are, the meat they produce doesn’t contain the toxic remnants of these unnatural components from the industrial, grain-based process.

One powerful study conducted in 2006 using Australian cattle, sought to determine the impact of three different feeding systems—grain-finished, long-term feedlot rations, and grass-finished—on the resulting meat’s omega-3 fatty acid and conjugated linoleic acid composition. Researchers ultimately found that the grass-finished cows had significantly higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid when compared to either of the grain-based feeding systems. These two fatty acids play very important roles in brain health, metabolism, and the likelihood of developing cancer.

Another, more recent, study echoed and expanded on the earlier findings of the Australian team. Looking at beef specifically grown in the United States, researchers analyzed meat samples across multiple states and found that meat from grass-fed cows had significantly higher levels of conjugated linoleic acid and omega-3 fatty acids, mirroring the Australian study’s results. However, this team went one step further, determining that grass-finished beef also contained more carotenoids , trace nutrients, and saturated fat, while carrying no more cholesterol or polyunsaturated fats than grain-fed cows.

When it comes to choosing meat, it is critically important to consider the source. The food that livestock eat dictates their relative health, and this ultimately travels up the food chain and determines what health benefits—or detriments—we absorb when eating that meat. When it comes to choosing between grain- and grass-fed beef, the choice is clear!

The post Grain-Fed vs Grass-Fed and Finished Beef — Why Does it Matter? appeared first on David Perlmutter M.D..

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David Perlmutter M.D. - Empowering Neurologist: The food, the facts, the science to control your genetic destiny.

Are you feeling down or blue? If you are then one thing’s for sure: you’ve likely encountered any number of natural products being promoted for their potential ability to benefit and improve your mood. Everything from B vitamins to fish oil to 5-HTP have been studied and written about in terms of their potential role in not only combating depression, but actually making us feel generally happier.

But there may very well be a far simpler approach that doesn’t require actually taking any supplement at all. Basically, it involves the “radical” protocol of getting outside and going into nature. In fact, in addition to improving mood, nature exposure has been demonstrated to have a wide ranging impact on health including:

  • Improved immune function
  • Increased energy
  • Better sleep
  • Reduction in blood pressure
  • Increased ability to focus

And we actually focus on how these powerful health benefits, especially as they relate to the brain and mood, in our upcoming book, Brain Wash.

There are a number of pathways by which nature exposure may positively influence mood. One fascinating line of study relates vitamin D to the production of the neurotransmitter serotonin. In research published in 2015, Dr. Rhonda Patrick proposed a mechanism in which vitamin D plays a critical role in the brain synthesis of serotonin. This study also highlighted the role of marine omega-3 fatty acids in brain serotonin activity. As Dr. Patrick explained, deficiency of vitamin D, a fairly common situation in Americans, might well relate to compromise of the brain’s ability to produce serotonin, and, as such, may underlie depression.

It should come as no surprise that when we are outside and exposed to sunlight, our bodies are making vitamin D. As we’ve now learned, this may well enhance our ability to produce the feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin.

Currently, the most widely prescribed antidepressant medications ostensibly work by allowing for increased brain serotonin. While these drugs are not thought to increase the production of serotonin, they may increase the overall levels of this neurotransmitter by reducing the rate at which it is degraded in the brain. But importantly, and unlike getting outside for a little sunshine, these so-called SSRI antidepressants have been associated, quite commonly, with side effects. As indicated on Medscape discussing SSRIs:

Common adverse effects of SSRIs include gastrointestinal upset, sexual dysfunction, bleeding, emotional blunting, cognitive dysfunction, and changes in energy level (ie, fatigue, restlessness).

To be sure, it is not appropriate to compare the efficacy of nature exposure directly to that of medications. Nonetheless, if we are to make recommendations based on the notion of above all do no harm, it seems reasonable to consider getting out in the sunshine as a first step to improving your mood.

The post Sunshine: A Natural Mood Enhancer appeared first on David Perlmutter M.D..

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David Perlmutter M.D. - Empowering Neurologist: The food, the facts, the science to control your genetic destiny.

Thanks to hosting The Empowering Neurologist, I’m always receiving copies of some of the latest and greatest works of scientific study from colleagues across the globe. As I was doing a bit of spring cleaning recently, I came across countless titles that have inspired and shaped my perspective on health over the past several years. Before I put these away, and in honor of today, National Doctors Day, I wanted to share some of these titles with you.

Below, I’ll link to the title on Amazon, as well as the author’s Empowering Neurologist interview. I also encourage you to go follow their work in addition to being a member of this community. Together, we can bring a sea change to the world of optimal living!

The post From the Desk of Dr. Perlmutter appeared first on David Perlmutter M.D..

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David Perlmutter M.D. - Empowering Neurologist: The food, the facts, the science to control your genetic destiny.

By: The Dr. Perlmutter Team

One of the most exciting developments in lifestyle science over the last decade has been the sharpening focus on the central role that our resident microbes (bacteria) play in regulating overall health. These microbes, together with their genetic material and metabolic byproducts make up what is collectively known as the microbiome. It is becoming readily apparent that the trillions of microbes living on and within us play a fundamental role in almost all of the systems of the body. Even as recently as 10-20 years ago, we did not understand the extent to which the gut microbiome can influence a person’s mood, regulate appetite, produce essential vitamins, regulate the immune system, and influence systemic inflammation.

There is even evidence to suggest that the microbiome affects us on such a fundamental level that it can regulate the expression of our DNA!

This growing body of science has helped inform an even more exciting scientific prospect: the idea that intentionally altering an individual’s microbiome could have significant impacts on overall health, resistance to disease, and longevity. It is increasingly evident that our lifestyle choices—what we eat, how much and how well we sleep, and the amount of exercise we get—can change the composition of our microbiome and impact the state of our health. It’s a beautiful, commensal relationship: our lifestyle choices affect the health and resilience of our resident bacteria and those bacteria, in turn, affect our own health and resilience. The influence of the microbiome is driven not only by the gross quantity of microbes present, but also the composition and diversity of the bacteria.

It’s an awe-inspiring concept when you take a moment to let it sink in!

I’ve written before about the importance of the microbiome, the best ways to consume probiotics, and which species to hone in on when developing a microbiome-friendly diet and supplementation program. However, I’d like to take a few moments to highlight just how beneficial a probiotic-rich diet can be in four key areas of health: your mood, gut health, brain health, and immune system.

Mood

The idea that microbes living within the digestive track can impact an individual’s temperament may seem far-fetched, but there is compelling science to suggest that this is precisely the case. One study linking the microbiome to mood was published by a group of researchers in April 2015 in the peer-reviewed journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity. Study participants were broken into two groups, with one group receiving a probiotic food-supplement and the other a placebo. At the end of four weeks, study participants that received the probiotic intervention demonstrated reduced reactivity to sad mood, lending credence to the idea that probiotics can help improve a negative mood.

Another study, conducted by researchers at UCLA and published in Gastroenterology, arrived at a similar conclusion. This study found that consuming fermented milk, which is rich in probiotic bacteria, actually changes the brain’s emotional response to stimuli on a structural level. Participants who drank the probiotic-rich drink responded differently to emotional faces in comparison to controls, differences that were highlighted in functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) testing. Consuming a probiotic-friendly diet clearly has the potential to change how we view, and respond to, the world around us.

Gut

The most readily apparent benefit of consuming probiotics is their impact on digestion. We intuitively understand that consuming probiotics would have a positive impact on the gut because that is precisely where they end up after being consumed. One of the most common uses of probiotics is in addressing diarrhea and constipation. Studies have shown that probiotics can help treat a wide variety of types of diarrhea, including antibiotic-associated diarrhea; interestingly enough, they can also have a seemingly opposite impact on the digestive tract by preventing constipation.

Another powerful link between the gut and overall health lies in the development of obesity. A study recently published in the scientific journal JAMA Pediatrics compared the gut bacteria of children who were breastfed with children who were given formula early in life. Those children who were given formula underwent changes in their microbiome, including elevated levels of Firmicutes relative to Bacteroides, that were associated with an increased risk of being overweight or obese in the first year of life. Another study linked the beneficial weight loss generated by every-other-day (intermittent) fasting to changes in the microbiome precipitated by the diet itself. Every-other-day fasting elevates acetate and lactate, two fermentation byproducts of the microbiome, and selectively stimulates beige thermogenesis. However, these results were not observed in microbiota-depleted mice models, suggesting that the microbiome itself likely plays a critical role in facilitating the weight loss commonly seen with intermittent fasting.

Brain

One of the most powerful connections between the gut microbiome and the other major systems of the body lies in the microbiome’s ability to regulate systemic inflammation. Inflammation is at the root of most of the debilitating chronic neurological conditions we face today, so probiotic interventions that balance the gut microbiome and reduce inflammation have the potential to drastically improve brain health.

The most common inflammatory condition that may be influenced by probiotic interventions is Alzheimer’s disease, which is one of the most pervasive and debilitating forms of dementia. One study recently published in the journal Nature evidenced the connection between the microbiota and the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s using 3xTg-AD mice, a unique, triple transgenic mouse model of Alzheimer’s. The study found that inducing changes in the microbiome of these mice positively impacted neuronal pathways in their brain, slowing cognitive decline and the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. While the results of an animal study cannot be directly transferred to humans, the study still holds great promise in helping us understand and combat this devastating condition and presents a potential role for microbiota modulation in the treatment of Alzheimer’s.

Other studies have shown that other little-understood neurological conditions, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), may be prevented or controlled with probiotic interventions. It has been suggested that gut dysbiosis, or an imbalance in the microbiome, could play a critical role in the development of ADHD. Interestingly, children with ADHD suffer from constipation at an almost three-fold higher rate than those without ADHD. This is compelling evidence that there is a connection between what is happening inside the brains and guts of children suffering from this condition.

Immune System

There is a growing understanding among the scientists studying autoimmune conditions that autoimmunity may originate in imbalances in the gut microbiome.

Many common autoimmune conditions, including multiple sclerosis and Crohn’s disease, have roots in the gut microbiome and have been shown to respond favorably to probiotic interventions. It has also been theorized that psoriasis, a skin condition long-thought to be driven by the immune system, might actually be driven by a “leaky” gut that allows lipopolysaccharide-binding protein (LPS) to get into the bloodstream. Probiotic interventions have shown promise in reinforcing the gut lining, thereby decreasing gut permeability and allowing the gut microbiome to rebalance and flourish. Finally, specific strains of probiotic bacteria like L. plantarum and L. acidophilus have been shown to boost immunity and help protect people from common infections like the flu and common cold.

Given the wide-ranging importance of the microbiome in overall health, the obvious next question is: what can be done to promote the vitality and diversity of your microbiome? There are two sides to this: things to avoid and things to emphasize.

There are a number of everyday items that may disrupt your microbiome and should be avoided, including antibiotics, gluten, natural and artificial sugars, chlorine, home goods made with BPA-laden plastics and many of the artificial ingredients found in processed foods.

Conversely, consuming a diet that contains plentiful prebiotic fiber—a specific type of carbohydrate that humans cannot digest but that our gut bacteria thrive on—foods rich in probiotic species of bacteria, and supplementing with those probiotics that are not readily available through food sources, can help ensure your microbiome flourishes.

The growing science of the human microbiome and its wide-ranging impact on overall health are absolutely fascinating. Our ability to harness the power of the microbiome to prevent or control a variety of chronic and acute conditions is only starting to be understood, but it is nonetheless an incredibly important development in medical science. Hopefully you can take advantage of some of the potential benefits discussed above and implement them in your daily life to improve your health and longevity!

The post Benefits of Probiotics for your Mood, Gut, and Immune System appeared first on David Perlmutter M.D..

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David Perlmutter M.D. - Empowering Neurologist: The food, the facts, the science to control your genetic destiny.

Perhaps by now, you’ve heard of the glymphatic system. Personally, I’ve seen it be a subject both popular media and medical journals are devoting more and more attention to. But, what exactly is the glymphatic system?

This may come as a bit of a surprise to learn, but it’s your brain’s other circulatory system. Yes, your brain has a second circulatory system! This newly discovered pathway is used to rid the brain of the byproducts of metabolism. Think of it as how the brain takes out the garbage. We’re also now learning it’s an important means for transporting important chemicals around the brain, like glucose and fatty acids.

Certainly, the performance of the glymphatic system is something we want to do, and it’s a good thing we’re seeing more research done to determine how to do this. One finding that seems to be sticking out: improving the quality of our sleep ends up improving the function of our glymphatic system. Let’s explore that further in today’s video.

And for tips on improving the quality of your sleep, and more of the latest sleep science, browse our focus page on sleep.

The post The Glymphatic System: Enhancing Performance with Optimal Sleep appeared first on David Perlmutter M.D..

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David Perlmutter M.D. - Empowering Neurologist: The food, the facts, the science to control your genetic destiny.

You know, we’ve explored, several times now, the relationship between vitamin D levels and risks for severe health complications, including dementia. Notably, my colleague Dr. Dale Bredesen has written and researched much on this topic, particularly with regard to the relationship between vitamin D levels and Alzheimer’s risk. In fact, Dr. Bredesen even includes vitamin D supplementation in his protocol for treating Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Well, a new study in the journal Neurology explores the scientific fact behind this relationship between vitamin D, and dementia and Alzheimer’s. This longitudinal study followed 1,000+ elderly individuals who were free of dementia at the outset, to see how their vitamin D levels and brain health state changed over time.

Here’s what they found.

The post Vitamin D and Alzheimer’s Disease: Could Deficiency Increase Your Risk? appeared first on David Perlmutter M.D..

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