DAVID PERLMUTTER’S BRAIN MAKER
Our knowledge of nutritional science and the complexity of the human body is constantly evolving. For example, it was only in 1905 that vitamins in food were discovered as being vital to life and health. A few decades later, Dr. John Kellogg introduced us to the importance of fiber in our diets. And, since that time, we have learned about the importance of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, antioxidants, and phytonutrients to name a few.
[Que to one of the most discussed recent findings …] The new frontier of the human body: the discovery that there are trillions of tiny critters living in our gut that play an extremely important role in our lives and our health. These bacteria, yeast, viruses, and other parasites living in our digestive system are termed our microbiome. For the next several months, Foundation Health will be discussing David Perlmutter’s Brain Maker and his theories about the importance of the microbiome.
This week I read the first chapter of Brain Maker, by David Perlmutter. Perlmutter appropriately starts his book at birth. He explains that the way we come into this world determines which bacteria will make our gut their home. When babies are born vaginally, the bacteria in their gut closely match that of their mother. If they are born by c-section the gut flora are different and may even match the gut flora of a nurse or a stranger in the delivery room.
Why does this matter? Our microbiome is like a fingerprint. Everyone has a different balance of the 10,000+ species living in his or her gut. In this first chapter, Perlmutter establishes that the health of our microbiome has tangible influences on our day-to-day experiences. He asserts that our flora regulate our weight and emotions; help us fight infections; promote the absorption of vitamins and nutrients; turn genes on and off; and determine how we experience pain and handle stress. These are only a few of the established influences of the microbiome discussed in Brain Maker.
This first chapter has peaked my interest. If the little critters in my gut help determine my mood, my weight, and my overall health, can I improve my flora and by extension improve my life? Stay tuned; I suspect the rest of the book will tell us more about the importance of our flora and how to keep our microbiome healthy.