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Leaky gut = Leaky brain.. and why it matters.

There is a lot of interesting research now on how the health of the gut can influence the brain and vice versa. Anxiety and depressive thoughts can trigger gut problems and an unhealthy gut can lead to all kinds of mood disorders as well as neurological diseases though its influence on the blood brain barrier.

What is the blood brain barrier?

The blood brain barrier (BBB) allows the tightly regulated movement of molecules to occur between the blood and the central nervous system (CNS), which is the brain and the spinal cord.

We don’t want anything getting through the BBB thats not supposed to.

For example, toxins, pathogens, heavy metals and damaging chemicals need to be kept out, however the BBB can become ‘leaky’ or impermeable and then inflammation, injury and disease can occur. This impermeability can happen due to a leaky gut.

What leads to a leaky gut?

There are many causes of a leaky gut including:

  • Dysbiosis (imbalance of beneficial gut flora)

  • Parasites

  • Processed foods

  • Fried foods

  • Zonulin (released when gluten is consumed)

  • Artificial sweeteners

  • Additives and preservatives

  • Processed foods

  • High fructose corn syrup

  • Chlorinated and flouridated water

Stress, lack of exercise and excess caffeine, alcohol and soft drinks will also drive those beneficial gut bacteria away, which can lead to a leaky gut.

New research on LPS, anxiety and other neurological conditions

LPS (lipopolysaccharides) are in every person but if they are able to pass though the gut wall and into the blood, they can then cross the BBB. The research into LPS is very interesting as we now know that when the LPS can cross the BBB they cause the release of inflammatory cytokines that are linked to depression, anxiety, autism, ADHD and alzheimers. Other symptoms of an inflamed brain can include foggy thinking and fatigue as well as more serious CNS conditions such as multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease.

We must cool the inflammatory fire in the brain :)

So we need to prevent the movement of LPS into the blood stream and into the brain by healing our gut. Choosing foods that are high in anti-oxidants, that are anti-inflammatory and that will feed our beneficial gut flora is crucial to strengthening our gut wall. These include foods such as:

  • Flaxseed oil

  • Cinnamon

  • Berries

  • Turmeric

  • Seeds

  • Fermented foods

By choosing to eat a mainly plant-based diet with good quality fats, moderate protein and low carbohydrates with minimal grains will greatly decrease the inflammation in your body and brain. Great! This means decreasing your risk of the neurological diseases I talked about earlier as well as bringing you a clearer mind and better moods.

Onwards and upwards!

So, whether you’d like to gain greater clarity of mind with improved memory and concentration or to reduce your risk of serious neurological disease, you can start by addressing your gut health. Remember though it goes both ways, looking after your mental well-being will greatly improve the condition of your gut as well as your mind. If you would like to work with a Naturopathic practitioner to achieve your best health you can get more info at

With care,

Jesabe xx

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