Your gut is directly linked to the health of your whole body.
Strange, but true.
It’s a link I recognized long ago, and it’s how I approach treatments for patients at my clinic. And now modern research is finally catching up with me.
I first learned about this important connection when I began studying the ancient healing techniques of Ayurvedic medicine in India.
You already know from other letters I’ve written that many things can increase bad bacteria and throw the delicate gut balance out of whack.
Poor diet… medications, including antibiotics… and environmental toxicities all play huge roles.
And you know that a Western-based, high-carbohydrate diet can disrupt normal gut bacteria, and, in turn, have a negative impact on the stem cells in fat.1 Your stems cells can be crucial for anti-aging.
You see, it’s all tied to what we eat.
Keeping your gut flora healthy and happy — and feeding the good guys instead of the bad guys — can help make sure you never have to worry about this terrible disease.
A recent article, “Does Parkinson’s Begin in the Gut?” is just the latest research to confirm the importance of the gut’s microbiome.
It’s an intriguing idea, because most people would not associate a brain disease with the gut.
The researchers determined that the gut of Parkinson’s patients was very different than that of people who didn’t have the wasting disease.2 And when mice that didn’t have the disease, but did have a predisposition to Parkinson’s, were injected with the gut bacteria from those that did have Parkinson’s, those mice then developed the symptoms quickly.
It doesn’t surprise me: Good gut bacteria helps defend your entire body, acting like a second immune system — killing off bad bacteria.
So how is your brain affected by what’s in your gut?
Parkinson’s disease is the result of degenerative nerve cells in the substantia nigra section of your midbrain, which leads to a decrease in the production of dopamine. Dopamine is crucial as it is the brain’s signaling center. The loss of dopamine, in turn, leads to uncontrolled movements and the loss of motor function — the telltale signs of Parkinson’s disease.
The new study points to this conclusion: Parkinson’s disease starts in the gut and spreads to the brain via something called the vagus nerve.
The vagus nerve extends from the brainstem to the abdomen and controls unconscious body processes like heart rate and food digestion.
So what’s the upshot and take-home message?
Boost Your Gut Balance with 3 Easy Steps
- Get your gut flora back on track with a combination prebiotic/probiotic. Restore your gut to its native state using prebiotics that hunter-gatherer tribes used as well as probiotic bacteria strains which are primal in nature. You probably are familiar with probiotics, which are the good live microorganisms in your gut. What you may not be aware of are ways to keep that flora happy and growing. Think of prebiotics as the fertilizer for that essential flora. So get both in one source. Just be sure what you choose contains the essential probiotics, those with names like Bifidobacterium lactis, Lactobacillus plantarum, and Bacillus subtilis.
- Eat your way to a healthy gut. Some of the best foods that promote a healthy gut flora are onions, garlic, asparagus, artichokes and almonds.
Some foods also include a fiber called “inulin.” This fiber resists digestion from the small intestine. Bananas, chicory root, dandelion greens, leeks, peas, and beans all have this type of fiber.
- Try the powerful gut-healing herb triphala. I also often recommend a powerful Ayurvedic gut-healing herb formula called triphala. It’s made by blending dried and powdered rinds and flesh of amalaki (or Indian gooseberry), haritaki (from the terminalia tree) and bibhitaki (from the bahera tree).
Use it to brew a comforting cup of tea. Drink it on an empty stomach before meals or at bedtime. You can also take triphala as a supplement. I recommend 1,000 mg a day. Or, look for a liquid extract. Take one dropperful in 1 to 2 ounces of water or juice, one to three times daily before food.
To Your Good Health,
Al Sears, MD, CNS
1. Mihaylova MM, et al. “Dietary and metabolic control of stem cell function in physiology and cancer.” Cell Stem Cell. 2014;14(3):292–305.
2. Kwon D. “Does Parkinson’s begin in the gut?” Science American. May 8, 2018.