We’ve all heard of the brain-gut connection. If one is unhealthy, the other will be too.
You might say they are fraternal twins. Both are yoked within the same body, sending messages and warnings to one another.
Dr. Gary Kaplan not only practices family medicine, but his research in Auto-Immunity and Pain Management has been celebrated worldwide. Author of Total Recovery: A Revolutionary New Approach to Breaking the Cycle of Pain and Depression and his new book, Why You Are Still Sick, Dr. Kaplan wants to share everything he knows about how food and our lifestyles are making us sick.
The list of autoimmune diseases is long: Lyme Disease, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Arthritis, Lupus, Celiac…and these are only a few of the crippling disorders that affect the entire body. The immune system breaks down, and inflammation attacks both the brain and the gut, joints, muscles, and nervous system. (2:30)
*This condition is responsible for the diseases that affect over 20 million people.
*Chronic depression is closely tied to inflammation of the brain.
*Blood tests do not reveal depression or chronic fatigue caused by inflammatory reactions in the brain.
*Brain fog, headaches, focus, poor sleep, and concentration issues are all symptoms of brain inflammation. (6:30)
*Even a runny nose, hay fever, congestion and other allergies are evidence of inflammation.
Post Covid “Cytokines”
Many who have previously suffered from Covid may have noticed problems with their sense of smell and other lingering issues. Dr. Kaplan attributes these chronic problems to white cells that are spewing out lots of inflammatory particles called cytokines. (9:00) While some cytokines are helpful in reducing inflammation, these particular Covid-induced variety are promoters.
*There is no one-size-fits-all remedy to inflammation.
“There’s no reason we can’t live to be 120,” says Dr. Kaplan. It’s all about the Microglia in our brains, or the immunity cells that are moving constantly, looking for infections to wipe out.
*If you don’t have inflammation in the brain, there is no chance for Alzheimer’s to destroy the nervous system.
*Regular, aerobic exercise is one of the best anti-inflammatory remedies for the brain. (10:45)
*Weight lifting also reduces inflammation in the brain and body.
*Proper sleep is absolutely critical for detoxification of the brain at night when you are in deep, REM sleep. 7-8 hours of sleep is the minimum each night.
*Meditation reduces nervous system inflammation and can rebuild some portions of the nervous system. Many techniques include sitting upright and use breath work to invite relaxation. 20 minutes is ideal each day, preferably first thing in the morning.
*Meditation also reduces pain and sleep disturbances.
Watch the interview here:
The “Roll” of Nutrition
Celiac is an autoimmune disease too many Americans are familiar with. While it almost always traces back to gluten allergies, it can manifest in ways that do not involve gastrointestinal distress.
Dr. Kaplan, is one of only 19 physicians in the country to be board-certified in both Family Medicine and Pain Medicine, has discovered that “15% of celiac sufferers will only present neurologic problems.”
Dr. K tells the story of a patient who was so depressed, he tried to end his life. After being prescribed psychiatric meds, there was no improvement. Dr. Kaplan suspected some other nefarious reason for the young man’s depression, and tested him for celiac issues. He found that this patient did indeed suffer from gluten intolerance. He was one of the 15% who had neurologic problems.
“We got him completely off gluten and helped to repair his gut, which had been inflamed for a long time. In a year’s time he was off all medication and has felt 100% ever since.”
*16-18% of those who consume wheat are allergic to the fertilizers, herbicides and poisons used to increase crop yields.
*France has banned dangerous herbicides, and even those sensitive to celiac disease can often eat wheat products there.
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*Mercury toxicity from eating canned tuna is common.
*An inflamed gut will result in brain inflammation. (23:00)
*Leaky Gut Syndrome triggers antibodies that attack foreign molecules that pass into the bloodstream from the leaking gut.
The Hypoallergenic Diet
Some foods are considered safe for everyone to eat: Rice, fish, chicken, and organic fruits and vegetables are staples for this gut-safe diet. But not all rice and fish are “healthy,” so look for brown organic rice and mercury-free fish.
*Milk and most dairy products trigger allergies.
*Wheat and corn products are also highly inflammatory to most people.
*Because most rice and kale are chelators, or absorb heavy metals from the soil, beware of low quality varieties. Stick to brown rice, which is digested slower and does not raise glucose levels as quickly as white rice.
Dr. Kaplan mentions the environmental factors all around us that make us sick: Chemicals in our food, bug sprays on our grass, and even the Great Salt Lake, which is now exposing decades of mining poison that was dumped there long ago. As the lake evaporates during drought years, the silt blows into the air and contains massive amounts of arsenic.
*The Dirty Dozen App is a great way to keep track of the healthiest fish available for consumption.
*Sleep apnea can reduce lifespan. Warning signs include fatigue during the daytime, snoring at night and lapses in breathing during sleep.
Chances are, you might be one of the 20 million people in our nation suffering from inflammation, or know someone who does. Check out Dr. Kaplan’s new book, Why You Are Still Sick: How Infections Can Break Your Immune System & How You Can Recover, to begin taking the flame out of inflammation. Your brain and your body will thank you.