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How Does Gut Function Effect Brain Function

Feeling anxious and depressed, having short term memory issues, or "brain fog"?  It may be driven by your gut health. The gastrointestinal tract is a closed system within which digestion and absorption of nutrients occurs.  Because of the enzyme spectrum, bacterial populations, immune and neurologic function; it is an extremely complicated aspect of our biology.  Unfortunately, imbalance in any of the components mentioned can cause damage to the gut and specifically to the junctions that hold the cells lining the gut.  These "brush border cells" are responsible for absorption of nutrients and preventing leakage from the gut.  Damage to them can come from un-diagnosed food allergies or intolerances, chemical exposure, auto-immune disorders, stress, poor diet and a number of other factors.  

When the junctions between the cells in the gut begin leaking, undigested food proteins pass through the wall of the gut.   Some will then enter the blood and cause immune system up-regulation against them.  From there circulation of both the food proteins and activated immunoglobulins can come in contact with the "blood/brain barrier", and with junction proteins that are similar to those found in the gut.  This causes an inflammatory immune reaction against the blood/brain barrier cell junctions and leakage across the blood/brain barrier.  At that point proteins that should only be transiting the gut, are coming in contact with brain tissue causing inflammation and an immune system response within the brain.  The person going through this process may then feel anxious, depressed, have short term memory issues or have "brain fog".  

How do you fix this?  Identification of systemic illness, food allergies/intolerances and other dietary issues is the best place to start.  If you feel that you need help with this, please feel to email the office through our website or call.

Dr. Shawn Phelan  

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