Healthy Gut Healthy Brain by Dr David Perlmutter

A neurologist explains the power of your microbiome to heal and protect your brain.

Your brain’s health is dictated by what goes on in your gut. That’s right: What’s taking place in your intestines affects not only your brain’s daily functions, but also determines your risk for a number of neurological conditions in the future.

Your intestinal organisms, or microbiome, participate in a wide variety of bodily systems, including immunity, detoxification, inflammation, neurotransmitter and vitamin production, nutrient absorption, whether you feel hungry or full, and how you utilize carbohydrates and fat. All of these processes factor into whether you experience chronic health problems like allergies, asthma, ADHD, cancer, type 2diabetes, or dementia.

What you might not know is that your microbiome also affects your mood, your libido, and even your perceptions of the world and the clarity of your thoughts. A dysfunctional microbiome could be at the root of your headaches, anxiety, inability to concentrate, or even negative outlook on life.

Put simply, nearly everything about our health — how we feel both physically andemotionally —  can hinge on the state of our microbiome. In fact, the connection between gut flora and the brain is so important that in 2014 the National Institute of Mental Health spent more than $1 million on a research program to study this relationship.

In my work as a neurologist, I’ve discovered that no other system in the body is more sensitive to changes in gut bacteria than the central nervous system. What’s more — and this is the good news — I have seen dramatic turnarounds in brain-related conditions with simple dietary modifications and, on occasion, with more-aggressive techniques to reestablish a healthy microbiome.

If you’re wondering how to care for your own microbiome in a way that can change your brain for the better, check out my new book, Brain Maker. Here are some of the details of that program.

MEET YOUR SECOND BRAIN

Understanding just how closely the gut and the brain are related is essential.

Think of the last time you felt sick to your stomach because you were anxious, scared, or over-the-moon elated. Scientists are learning that this intimate relationship between the gut and the brain is bidirectional: Just as your brain can send butterflies to your stomach, your gut can relay its state of calm or alarm to the brain.

The vagus nerve, the longest of 12 cranial nerves, is the primary channel between millions of nerve cells in our intestinal nervous system (sometimes called the enteric nervous system) and our central nervous system, which comprises the brain and spinal cord. “Vagus” is Latin for “wanderer,” an apt name for this nerve that runs outside the brain and through the digestive system. The vagus extends from the brain stem to the abdomen, directing many bodily processes that don’t require thought, like heart rate and digestion.

At the same time, the bacteria in the gut directly affect the function of the cells along the vagus nerve. And some of the gut’s nerve cells and microbes release neurotransmitters that speak to the brain in its own language.

The neurons in the gut are so innumerable that many scientists are now calling them the “second brain.” This second brain not only regulates muscle function, immune cells, and hormones, but also manufactures an estimated 80 to 90 percent of serotonin (the “feel-good” neurotransmitter).

This means the gut’s brain makes more serotonin — the master happiness molecule — than the brain in your head. Many neurologists and psychiatrists are now realizing that this may be one reason antidepressants are often less effective in treating depression than proper dietary changes.

There are other chemicals manufactured in the gut that are also critical for the nervous system. GABA is an amino acid produced by gut bacteria that calms nerve activity by inhibiting transmissions and normalizing brain waves, helping return the nervous system to a steadier state after it’s been excited by stress.

Glutamate, a neurotransmitter also produced by gut bacteria, is involved in cognition, learning, and memory. It is abundant in a healthy brain. A slew of neurological challenges — including anxiety, behavioral issues, depression, and Alzheimer’s — have been attributed to a lack of GABA and glutamate.

LEAKY GUT, LEAKY BRAIN

You may have heard about the perils of a leaky gut, where the protective junctions in the intestinal lining become compromised. This is a response to a variety of factors, including pathogenic bacteria, some medications, stress, environmental toxins, elevated blood sugar, and potentially gut-irritating food ingredients like gluten.

Once the intestinal barrier is compromised, undigested food particles leak into the bloodstream, where they elicit an immune response. This can create systemwide inflammation.

When your intestinal barrier is compromised, you become susceptible — due to that increased inflammation — to a spectrum of health challenges, including arthritis, eczema, allergies, and even autism, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s. (For more on leaky gut syndrome, see “How to Heal a Leaky Gut“.)

Still, the problems of a leaky gut become even more monumental in light of new science that shows how loss of gut integrity can lead to a “leaky” brain.

We’ve long assumed that somehow the brain was insulated from what goes on in the rest of the body. You’ve heard about the highly protective, fortified portal keeping bad things out of the brain — the blood-brain barrier. We used to think of this barrier as an impenetrable wall.

The problems of a leaky gut become even more monumental in light of new science that shows how loss of gut integrity can lead to a “leaky” brain.

It has now become clear that many substances threaten its integrity. And once the brain’s barrier is compromised, various molecules that may spell trouble — including proteins, viruses, and bacteria — can get inside it.

For an example of how dangerous this can be, look at how the lipopolysaccharide (LPS) molecule behaves once it gets outside the gut.

LPS makes up the protective outer membrane of a class of bacteria that typically represents 50 to 70 percent of our intestinal flora. We’ve long known that LPS induces a violent inflammatoryresponse in animals if it finds its way into the bloodstream. It’s so violent that it’s also termed an endotoxin, a toxin that comes from within the bacterial cell.

In one critically important study on LPS, researchers at Texas Christian University showed that injections of LPS into lab animals’ bodies (not brains) led to overwhelming learning deficits, demonstrating that LPS was able to cross the blood-brain barrier.

In addition, the animals developed elevated levels of the protein beta-amyloid in their hippocampi, the brain’s memory center. (Beta-amyloid is strongly implicated in Alzheimer’s.)

Other studies have implicated LPS in memory problems and decreased production of BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor), a protein that is critical for the growth of new brain cells.

This is powerful information that once again speaks to the gut-brain connection and the impact of inflammation, gut permeability, and the critical importance of a healthy gut to a healthy brain.

FOOD MATTERS

Perhaps the most significant factor related to the health of the microbiome — and thus, the brain — is the food we eat. It is also the greatest challenge to the microbiome and brain. Food matters enormously, trumping other factors in our lives that we may not be entirely able to control.

As I described in my previous book, Grain Brain, the two key mechanisms that lead to brain degeneration are chronic inflammation and the action of free radicals, which are byproducts of inflammation that cause the body to “rust.” (For an excerpt from Grain Brain, see “Overcoming Grain Brain“.)

Brain Maker takes a new look at these mechanisms to understand how they are influenced by gut bacteria and overall gut health. My recommendations are designed to treat and prevent brain disorders; alleviate moodiness, anxiety, and depression; bolster the immune system and reduce autoimmunity; and improve metabolic disorders, including type 2 diabetes and obesity, which factor into long-term brain health.

The idea that food is the most important variable in human health is not news. But our new understanding of the connection between what you eat and how it affects your microbiome, and your brain, is exciting.

You can change the state of your microbiome — and the fate of your health — through dietary changes, opening the door for better health in general, and improved brain function in particular. My plan, outlined on the following pages, can help you get started.

5 WAYS TO BOOST YOUR BRAIN THROUGH YOUR GUT

I am frequently asked how long it takes to rehabilitate a dysfunctional or underperforming microbiome.

Research shows that significant changes in the array of gut bacteria can take place in as little as six days after instituting a new dietary protocol, like the one I present in my book (the highlights of which I’m sharing here). But everyone is different; your Brain Maker rehab will depend on the current state of your gut and how quickly you commit to making changes.

1. EAT FOODS RICH IN PROBIOTICS

Probiotics are live bacteria and yeast that support good digestive health. Long before probiotics became available in supplement form, the health benefits of fermented, probiotic-rich foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, and yogurt were well recognized. The Chinese were fermenting -cabbage 6,000 years ago.

The type of fermentation that makes most foods rich in beneficial bacteria is called lactic-acid fermentation. In this process, good bacteria convert sugar molecules in food into lactic acid, and, in doing so, the good bacteria multiply. This lactic acid, in turn, protects the fermented food from being invaded by pathogenic -bacteria because it creates an environment with a low pH. This kills off harmful bacteria, which has a higher pH.

While supplements are helpful, there’s still no better way to consume bifidobacteria and lactobacilli (some of the most important healthy bacteria in the gut) than to get them from food sources, which are easiest for the body to use.

These probiotic bacteria help maintain the integrity of the gut lining; serve as natural antibiotics, antivirals, and antifungals; regulate immunity; and control inflammation. They even improve nutrient absorption.

These are some of the best food sources for probiotics (for more ideas, visit “Probiotics at Work“):

Live-Culture Yogurt: Check the label to make sure your yogurt contains live cultures, and avoid products that are heavily sweetened. Coconut yogurt is an excellent alternative for people who are sensitive to dairy.

Kefir: A fermented-milk product that has a more liquid texture than yogurt.

Kombucha Tea: A tart, fizzy, fermented black tea.

Kimchi: Spicy, fermented vegetables that are Korean in origin. Kimchi is one of the best probiotic foods you can add to your diet.

Sauerkraut: Real, fermented sauerkraut (instead of cabbage soaked in vinegar) fuels healthy gut bacteria and contains choline, a chemical needed for proper transmission of nerve impulses from the brain through the nervous system. You can make your own real sauerkraut at home or find it in the refrigerated section of grocery stores.

Pickles: The most basic and beloved probiotic. As with sauerkraut, choose real, brined pickles that have been refrigerated.

2. GO LOWER-CARB; EMBRACE HIGH-QUALITY FATS

A diet that keeps your blood sugar balanced keeps your gut bacteria balanced. A diet high in rich sources of fiber from whole vegetables and fruits feeds good gut bacteria and produces the right balance of short-chain fatty acids to keep the intestinal lining in check. A diet that’s intrinsically anti-inflammatory is good for the brain.

Diets high in sugar and low in fiber fuel unwanted bacteria and increase the chances of intestinal permeability, mitochondrial damage, a compromised immune system, and widespread inflammation that can reach the brain. It’s a vicious cycle; all of these further disrupt our protective microbial balance.

We’ve been taught to demonize saturated fat. But coronary artery disease — a leading cause of heart attacks — may have more to do with inflammation than high cholesterol. And a great deal of research shows that when cholesterol levels are low, the brain simply doesn’t work well.

Studies of deceased patients with Alzheimer’s found significantly reduced amounts of fats in their cerebrospinal fluid compared with controls. People with low cholesterol are at much greater risk for neurological problems, including depression and dementia.

I have a host of recipes in my book, but here’s the cheat sheet: Make your main entrée mostly fibrous vegetables and fruits that grow above ground, with protein as a side dish. Far too often people think that a low-carb diet is all about eating copious amounts of meat. Much to the contrary, an ideal plate in the Brain Maker protocol is a sizeable portion of vegetables (two-thirds of your plate) and about 3 to 4 ounces of protein. You’ll get your fats from those naturally found in the protein, from butter and olive oil used to prepare the dish, and from nuts and seeds.

3. ENJOY CHOCOLATE, COFFEE, WINE, AND TEA

You can rejoice in the fact that, as far as your brain’s health is concerned, you can embrace chocolate, coffee, and wine in moderation, and tea to your heart’s desire.

Research abounds concerning dark chocolate’s benefits. In one study, Italian researchers demonstrated that in elderly individuals suffering mild cognitive impairment, those who consumed the highest level of flavonols (one category of polyphenols) from cocoa and chocolate showed heightened cognitive function.

Other studies have shown that consuming flavonols leads to improved blood flow to the brain, which is typically diminished in dementia patients.

Like chocolate, coffee supports a healthy balance of gut flora and exhibits anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Coffee and chocolate also stimulate a specific gene pathway called the Nrf2 pathway. When triggered, it causes the body to make higher levels of protective antioxidants, while reducing inflammation and enhancing detoxification. Other Nrf2 activators are green tea, turmeric, and resveratrol, a compound in red wine.

On that note, Spanish researchers have found that LPS levels, a marker for both inflammation and intestinal permeability, were dramatically reduced in individuals who consumed red wine in moderation (one to two glasses per day).

Polyphenols found in black tea are now being explored for their ability to positively influence gut microbial diversity. They’ve been shown to increase bifidobacteria, which help stabilize gut permeability. Green tea has also been shown to increase bifidobacteria and to lower levels of potentially harmful bacteria species.

4. CONSUME FOODS RICH IN PREBIOTICS

Prebiotics are food-borne fuel for the beneficial bacteria that live in the gut, and they occur naturally in raw garlic, cooked and raw onions, leeks, chicory, Jerusalem artichokes, and jicama. Estimates suggest that for every 100 grams of prebiotic carbohydrates we consume, a full 30 grams of good gut bacteria are produced.

Prebiotics have many additional benefits, including the ability to reduce inflammation in inflammatory-bowel disorders, enhance mineral absorption, and promote a sense of satiety. Animals given prebiotics produce less ghrelin, the hormone that signals the brain that it’s time to eat.

5. DRINK FILTERED WATER

Consuming plenty of water is important to intestinal health, but it’s critical that the water doesn’t contain gut-busting chemicals like chlorine. Environmental toxins can disrupt the microbiome and disturb brain physiology.

I recommend using a household water filter. There are a variety of home water-treatment technologies available, from simple filtration pitchers to under-sink units with a separate spigot. Make sure the filter you buy removes chlorine as well as other contaminants, and be sure to maintain and change it regularly.

Finally, ditch plastic water bottles and choose reusable bottles made from stainless steel or glass instead.

From Brain Maker by David Perlmutter, MD. Copyright © 2015 by David Perlmutter, MD. Reprinted by permission of Little, Brown and Company, New York, NY. All rights reserved.


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Leaky gut, leaky brain, eat your garlic and pickles by C Guthrie

pickles

Your intestines are home to a great deal of your digestive system, nervous system, and immune system. Here’s how to keep them healthy.

Modern life is hard on your gut. Your entire digestive tract can be affected by stress, processed foods, alcohol, medications, and bacteria.

All that chronic irritation can lead to inflammation and, eventually, to a lot of little pinprick-style leaks in the very thin and delicate lining of your intestinal wall.

And even a tiny leak can cause surprisingly big problems. A healthy gut is very selective about what gets passed into your body. But a leaky gut can release undigested food particles, bacteria, and toxins into your bloodstream, leading to a potentially outsized immune response.

If the damage to the lining of your gut is bad enough that such substances regularly leak through, it can wreak havoc on your health.

The long list of conditions associated with leaky gut syndrome (a.k.a. increased intestinal permeability) include acne, allergies, arthritis, asthma, autism, and many more.

The long list of conditions associated with leaky gut syndrome (a.k.a. increased intestinal permeability) include acne, allergies, arthritis, asthma, autism, and many more.

Alessio Fasano, MD, director of the Center for Celiac Research & Treatment at Massachusetts General Hospital for Children in Boston, recently discovered that leaky guts can even lead to autoimmune disorders.

And it’s a bit of a vicious cycle: “Our bodies can only fight so many fires at one time,” explains Liz Lipski, PhD, CCN, author of Digestive Wellness. “If someone is suffering from chronic stress, disease, or inflammation, the normal repair and maintenance of the gut gets deferred.”

What damages the gut? Lipski and other experts say the top culprits include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen, as well as sugar, alcohol, processed foods, and any foods that trigger an allergic response. Other irritants include chronic stress, toxins, and microbiome imbalances.

Given how commonplace such irritants have become in our lives, it’s not surprising that intestinal-permeability problems are pervasive, says Jacob Teitelbaum, MD, coauthor of Real Cause, Real Cure: The 9 Root Causes of the Most Common Health Problems and How to Solve Them. “These days,” he asserts, “virtually everybody’s gut leaks to some degree.”

DAMAGE CONTROL

Leaky gut syndrome has been treated by the integrative and functional-medicine community for years. But now, more of mainstream medicine is acknowledging it, too.

So what’s changed? Our understanding of the microbiome, for one thing.

The discovery that human health and behavior are profoundly influenced by a huge population of microorganisms living predominantly in our guts shook up a lot of docs, says Leo Galland, MD, a conventionally trained internist in New York City who now serves as director of the Foundation for Integrative Medicine. “Western medicine’s acceptance of the leaky gut model has been nothing short of a sea change.”

Symptoms of a leaky gut vary. If the leakage is minor, symptoms will generally be confined to the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, explains Tom Sult, MD, a Minnesota-based physician and author of Just Be Well. Typical results? Bloating, gas, or cramps.

More significant leaks are more likely to produce bodywide symptoms, he says, including fatigue, joint pain, rashes, respiratory issues, asthma, and autoimmune responses — including psoriasis.

More significant leaks are more likely to produce bodywide symptoms, he says, including fatigue, joint pain, rashes, respiratory issues, asthma, and autoimmune responses — including psoriasis.

As the condition of the gut degrades, notes Sult, the health impacts can be dramatic. So if you think you may be experiencing the symptoms of a leaky gut, it’s wise to address it promptly.

The good news, says Galland, is that the cells of the intestinal lining replace themselves every three to six days. This means that, given the proper support, your gut can repair itself quickly.

Here are the “five Rs” — remove, replace, reinoculate, repair, and rebalance — recommended by our panel of gut-health experts.

REMOVE

With leaky gut, the first step is to identify and remove the source of gut-lining irritation, rather than attempting to suppress its symptoms with drugs.

Start an elimination diet. Removing common irritants like sugar, dairy, gluten, soy, and the chemical additives found in many processed foods can provide surprisingly quick relief, says Galland, who notes that sugar alone is enough to cause gut problems for many. A properly conducted elimination diet can help you pinpoint which foods are causing trouble: Eliminate a food for two weeks, then reintroduce the food, and keep notes on its effects.

Begin a food journal. Write down what you eat and how it affects you. If you feel bloated, fatigued, or gassy, add that food to your elimination list. “Most likely,” says Lipski, “your gut is telling you what foods it is sensitive to. You just need to listen.”

Limit use of alcohol and NSAIDs

Alcohol taxes the liver and steals nutrients from the gut. NSAIDs inhibit the body’s production of prostaglandins, substances needed to rebuild the intestines’ lining. “If you use a full therapeutic dose of NSAIDs for two weeks, there is a 75 percent chance you will develop a leaky gut that doesn’t go away when you stop taking the drug,” says Galland. If you are dependent on NSAIDs for pain management, work to reduce your total load as much as possible, advises Sult.

Root out infections. Leaky gut can be instigated by any number of pathogenic microorganisms and parasites that thrive in the gut’s warm, mucosal environment. If food-level interventions aren’t helping, find a healthcare practitioner to run tests and treat you. Because “all the nutrients in the world won’t help you if you have a parasite,” says Lipski.

REPLACE
The second step is to give your body what it needs to rebuild the gut lining. Lipski likens the inside of the small intestine to a towel covered with millions of little loops (called villi), which in turn are covered with millions of little fibers (called microvilli). If the gut is leaky, those fibers get matted, hampering regrowth and the absorption of nutrients from food. It’s a vicious cycle, because the villi need those nutrients to revive.

Eat plenty of whole foods. The body needs the components in real, fresh food to repair damage and rebuild healthy new tissue. Whole foods are full of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, plus enzymes the small intestine needs to heal.

Prioritize nonstarchy vegetables and lean proteins. And eat plenty of good, whole-food fats — they help strengthen cellular membranes.

As your body heals, it will get rid of toxins and byproducts through your large intestine. You’ll need lots of fiber to eliminate that toxic waste material as quickly and efficiently as possible.

The best high-fiber foods are colorful vegetables, berries, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole-kernel grains. Aim for 30 grams of fiber a day. Lipski suggests supplementing with 1 to 2 tablespoons of psyllium seeds, flaxseeds, chia seeds, or oat bran. If you have gluten sensitivities or are doing an elimination diet, stick with flaxseeds (also a good source of omega-3s) or psyllium seeds, which you can sprinkle in smoothies, or on hot cereal or granola.

Many of our experts also suggest supplementing with a good multivitamin, since nutrient deficiencies commonly accompany leaky gut conditions, even in those eating a healthy, whole-food diet.

Take digestive enzymes

The villi and microvilli projections are covered with digestive enzymes that your body needs to break food into component parts: carbs, fats, and proteins. In a leaky gut, enzyme support is crucial to healing and rebuilding villi, says Sult.

Taking supplemental enzymes before you eat gives the GI tract a jump-start on digestion, making food easier to break down and nutrients easier to assimilate. Take one or two capsules with meals three times a day or as needed.

In most cases, the villi rebound over the course of a few weeks, but it may take well over a month, notes Sult. Only a small percentage of people will require lifetime enzymatic support

Supplement with glutamine

The most plentiful free amino acid in the body, glutamine supports immunity and digestion by fueling the cells that line the small intestine. “Glutamine heals the intestinal lining more than any other nutrient,” says Lipski. She recommends taking 10 to 20 grams daily.

Get more omega-3 fatty acids

The gut uses them to calm inflammation and rebuild healthy cell walls. In animal studies, adding essential fatty acids improved the tight junctions between the gut lining’s cells and enabled the gut to fend off additional injury.

In addition to recommending several helpings of omega-3-rich foods, including coldwater fish, nuts, seeds, avocado, and purslane, Sult advises many of his patients to take a daily concentrated fish-oil supplement, preferably one with at least 3,000 milligrams of EPA and DHA. Look for a fresh, high-quality refrigerated oil that is tested for heavy metals and other impurities.

REINOCULATE
Once your body has patched up the leaks in the gut, you need to help it grow a healthy layer of good bacteria — flora that help protect the GI tract and assist with digestion. These beneficial bacteria strengthen your immune system, improve metabolism, help your body make vitamins, and aid in the absorption of minerals. The two most important groups are lactobacilli and bifidobacteria.

Once your body has patched up the leaks in the gut, you need to help it grow a healthy layer of good bacteria — flora that help protect the GI tract and assist with digestion.

Add a probiotic

High-intensity probiotic support rejuvenates and replenishes a microbiome damaged by antibiotics or a poor diet. Sult recommends a high-potency probiotic of at least 50 billion active cultures twice daily. For added insurance, he says, choose one that is enteric-coated, meaning it will ferry the bacteria through the stomach’s acid and release them into the alkaline intestines.

Eat fermented foods

To get your good probiotic bugs to stick around, says Sult, you’ve got to eat daily servings of prebiotic- and probiotic-rich foods such as kefir, yogurt (dairy or nondairy), sauerkraut, tempeh, and kombucha.

Other perks of fermented foods include lowered inflammation, increased blood-sugar control, and improved antioxidant status. “The only way to make a robust, permanent impact on gut flora, short of a fecal transplant, is with dietary change,” he says.

REPAIR AND REBALANCE
Once you’ve got your gut on the road to wellness, it’s time to focus on lasting lifestyle changes. Sliding back into the habits that caused your leaky gut will only invite the return of health problems you want to avoid. Here are two key strategies for supporting ongoing gut health:

Before taking your first bite, look at your food and take in its aroma. This will trigger the cephalic phase of digestion, an initial release of enzymes that help break down your food.

Eat mindfully. Before taking your first bite, look at your food and take in its aroma, advises Kathie Swift, MS, RDN, nutrition director for Food As Medicine at Washington’s Center for Mind-Body Medicine and author of The Swift Diet. This will trigger the cephalic phase of digestion, an initial release of enzymes that help break down your food.

As you eat, chew thoroughly, paying attention to your food’s flavor and texture. Avoid multitasking or rushing while you eat. Take pauses and breaths between bites, allowing your digestive system to keep pace. (For more on digestive health, see “Functional Wellness, Part 3: Digestive Health“.)

Calm your central nervous system

Under stress, the body’s nervous system kicks into fight-or-flight mode — the opposite of its rest-and-digest mode. Recalibrate by cultivating a calmer, more centered state. Consider a daily meditation or yoga practice. Or on a stressful day, swap heavy weightlifting for a tai-chi class. “When you change your thoughts,” says Sult, “you change your physiology.”

Most of the problems associated with leaky gut syndrome occur in your small intestine, but all the organs of your digestion are involved — and impacted. The information here is compiled from Jacob Teitelbaum, MD, coauthor of Real Cause, Real Cure, and Liz Lipski, PhD, CCN, author of Digestive Wellness.

Mouth: Not chewing food thoroughly can be a setup for digestive troubles. Mechanically breaking your food down to a liquid state makes your stomach’s job easier. It also mixes in digestive enzymes that begin dissolving proteins, carbs, and fats even before you swallow.

Stomach: Your stomach digests food with enzymes and acids, distilling it into a slurry that moves into the small intestine. If digestion is incomplete, food particles enter the small intestine. And if the gut lining there is irritated, those particles can pass into the bloodstream, setting the stage for inflammation and food sensitivities. Incomplete digestion can negatively affect your assimilation of nutrients and encourage the overgrowth of bad bacteria and yeasts.

Lymphoid Tissue: Throughout your small intestine, lymphoid tissues called Peyer’s patches are your first defense against pathogens sneaking through the gut lining. They are an important player in your immune system — about two-thirds of which is located in the gut. We eat about five pounds of food daily; our body’s digestive and immune systems have to process it all, filtering or neutralizing anything problematic — like food-borne chemicals and bacteria — from the good stuff our body needs. It’s a big job. Add undigested food particles to the mix, and the immune system can become overtaxed.

Large Intestine: As your large intestine continues to break down food, the colon extracts water from the slurry for use elsewhere in the body. A solid stool of waste forms and is sent to the rectum. In the absence of adequate fiber, however, elements of slow-moving waste can reenter the system, creating a variety of inflammatory and toxicity problems throughout the body.

Small Intestine: Your small intestine is like a 25-foot-long conveyor belt. Only tiny, digested molecules of fats, proteins, and starches are absorbed through the intestine walls into the bloodstream. But if you have leaky gut syndrome, the filter is defunct and large molecules leach into the bloodstream, where the immune system attacks them.

Gut Lining: The lining, or mucosa, is just one-cell thick (thinner than tissue paper) and has the total surface area of a tennis court. Keeping that lining intact is a big job — particularly if it’s under a continuous assault from processed foods, sugar, food intolerances, stress, toxins, alcohol, infections, and medications that irritate and inflame it. That chronic inflammation can eventually lead to leaky gut syndrome.

Tight Junctions: Your gut lining is made of millions of single cells; tight junctions form the seals between them. When these get irritated and inflamed, they loosen up, allowing undigested food particles to slip through into the bloodstream, triggering food allergies and stressing the immune system.

THE FOOD-ALLERGY CONNECTION

When you have a leaky gut, your gut lining allows larger-than-normal molecules of food to pass into your bloodstream. If a particle of undigested corn, for example, leaks through, your body may treat it like a foreign invader, attacking it just to get rid of it. “From that point, corn receives a physiological tag telling your immune system it’s a bad guy,” explains Lipski. And so a food allergy is born.

THE AUTOIMMUNE CONNECTION

Every autoimmune disease has three components, explains Alessio Fasano, MD: a genetic predisposition, an environmental trigger, and a leaky gut. The presence of undigested food particles and other noxious substances can play a big role in putting your immune system into overdrive and turning against the body itself — the classic onset of an autoimmune disorder.

ELIMINATION DIET

The Institute for Functional Medicine is pleased to provide Experience Life readers with access to IFM’s proprietary Elimination Diet Comprehensive Guide and Food Plan. Please click HERE to view and download IFM’s Elimination Diet.

BY CATHERINE GUTHRIE
Catherine Guthrie is a Boston-based science writer and contributing editor to Experience Life.

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Influence of conching temperature; Maltitol sugar alcohol in prebiotic milk chocolate containing inulin

European Food Research and Technology (Online First™), 2012

Changes in food consumption habits and the developments set forth in the area of health and nutrition also change consumer expectations and demands. Sugar-free foodstuffs and products that have prebiotic activity are among the primary features of such expectations and demands. In the present study, the effects of substituting fine sugar with isomalt and maltitol in milk chocolate

samples that contain inulin (9.0 %w/w), which is a substance with prebiotic activity, and the use of varying conching temperatures (CT) (50, 55 and 60C) in the sample preparation process on their physical (colour, hardness, water activity) and rheological properties were examined. Rheological data were obtained using the Herschel–Bulkley model which showed the best fitting for predicting rheology. It was determined that all properties included within the scope of the study are affected by the use of different bulk sweeteners or varying CT. While colour properties, such as brightness (L*), hue angle (h°), water activity (aw) and rate index properties varied in a narrow range, it was determined that the yield stress and viscosity properties, which are among the important quality parameters of chocolate and can have determining effects on sensory properties, manifest variations within a broad range, depending on the CT and the bulk sweeteners used. It was concluded that maltitol is a more suitable fine sugar substitute in milk chocolates containing inulin.  Content Type Journal Article Category Original Paper Pages 1-9 DOI 10.1007/s00217-012-1873-x Authors Nevzat Konar, Ankara University Food Safety Institute, 06110 Diskapi, Ankara, Turkey   Journal European Food Research and Technology Online ISSN 1438-2385 Print 1438-2377

 

About Conching temperature when preparing chocolates

A conche is a surface scraping mixer and agitator that evenly distributes cocoa butter within chocolate, and may act as a ‘polisher’ of the particles.[1] It also promotes flavor development through frictional heat and release of volatiles and acids, and oxidation. There are numerous designs of conches, and food scientists are still studying precisely what happens during conching and why. The name arises from the shape of the vessels initially used, which resembled conch shells.

 

A conche is a surface scraping mixer and agitator that evenly distributes cocoa butter within chocolate, and may act as a ‘polisher’ of the particles.[1] It also promotes flavor development through frictional heat and release of volatiles and acids, and oxidation. There are numerous designs of conches, and food scientists are still studying precisely what happens during conching and why. The name arises from the shape of the vessels initially used, which resembled conch shells.

The conching process redistributes into the fat phase the substances from the dry cocoa that create flavor. Air flowing through the conche removes some unwanted acetic, propionic, and butyric acids from the chocolate and reduces moisture. A small amount of moisture greatly increases viscosity of the finished chocolate, so machinery is cleaned with cocoa butter instead of water.[4] Some of the substances produced in roasting of cocoa beans are oxidized in the conche, mellowing the flavor of the product.

The temperature of the conche is controlled and varies for different types of chocolate. Generally higher temperature leads to a shorter required processing time. Temperature varies from around 49 °C for milk chocolate to up to 82 °C for dark chocolate. The elevated temperature leads to a partially caramelized flavor, and in milk chocolate promotes the Maillard reaction.[1]

The chocolate passes through three phases during conching. In the dry phase, the material is in powdery form, and the mixing coats the particles with fat. Air movement through the conche removes some moisture and volatile substances, which may give an acidic note to the flavor. Moisture balance affects the flavor and texture of the finished product because, after the particles are coated with fat, moisture and volatile chemicals are less likely to escape.[3]

In the pasty phase, more of the particles are coated with the fats from the cocoa. The power required to turn the conche shafts increases at this step.

The final liquid phase allows minor adjustment to the viscosity of the finished product, which may be adjusted depending on the intended use of the chocolate. Fats and emulsifiers are added to adjust the viscosity, and thoroughly mixed.

While most conches are batch process machines, continuous flow conches separate the stages with weirs, over which the product travels through separate parts of the machine.[3] A continuous conche can reduce the conching time for milk chocolate to as little as four hours

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