Guys, here’s a sobering fact: Americans are experiencing a shift…life expectancy has begun to decline. I’m talking men AND women. And, not because of genetic changes…but due to our lifestyles — what we eat (or what we don’t eat which can be just as important), what we are exposed to, the quality of our sleep, etc.
You might ask, “With so many lifestyle choices, where does one begin?” My humble vote is to start with the gut. Why? Well, for starters, healthy gut bacteria:
- Regulates digestion & metabolism
- Impacts our body’s immune system
- Blocks harmful microbes
- Extracts & make vitamins & other nutrients from ingested food
- Produces anti-microbial chemicals to fight off pathogens
- Builds & maintains our gut wall to protect us from outside invaders
- Plays a CRUCIAL role with brain health
So now that we know the “why gut” — where do we go from here? Let’s first consider food and nutritional intake. The reason is because the wrong dietary/foods will impact the integrity of our gut lining and that increases inflammation in the body. This is important because there is a correlation of inflammatory markers with most common diseases like coronary heart disease, Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s, autism, diabetes, and cancers. This, my friends, makes our gut bacteria is tres importante!
Knowing which foods contribute to bodily inflammation can be done with a food sensitivity test. Or, you can keep a journal noting what you eat and how you feel afterwards. You can get a pretty darn good indication of offending foods from a food journal.
Going one step further with some type of inflammatory testing is a GREAT idea especially if you are on medications for a chronic condition or battling (or have battled) one of the diseases above. There are a couple basic lab tests for inflammation including determining C – reactive protein, TMAO (trimethylamine oxide), or TNF (tumor necrosis factor) levels. Please…find out if you have inflammation and FIX IT! If you think you shouldn’t look at these markers until you are middle age, think again.
Don’t wait to test because studies have shown those people with inflammatory levels in their 30’s/40’s have the worst memories 24 years later (and brain shrinkage). David Perlmutter, the author or Grain Brain (newly updated, btw), suggests we fix the roof when the sun is shining. My younger adult friends, this means you. Pregnant women, this means you. My middle aged peers….THIS MEANS YOU.
Not motivated yet? There was another study done correlating the size of one’s belly and the risk for dementia. This test spanned 36 years. You guessed it, there was a DIRECT correlation. Another easy test to help here is to determine oxidation of LDL with a glycated hemoglobin test (or A1C). The higher the A1C, the greater the brain shrinkage (seriously).
Please don’t buy into the pharmaceutical companies making money off of Alzheimer’s drugs (which are mostly ineffective and cause people to decline faster) when the natural solution is right in front of us. Yes my friends, we have to be intentional. And yes, we will have to let go of artificial and way-over-sized portioned conveniences of eating out frequently, but isn’t the payoff worth it? BTW, the SAME efforts to improve brain function and improve gut health will (drum roll) improve your overall health and help you lose unneeded fat.
My short list for improving your diet is this:
- Eliminate gluten & processed flour foods
- Reduce consumption of inflammatory red meat and other inflammatory proteins (btw there are more than a few studies relating to the consumption of red meat and colorectal cancer…)
- Eat LESS protein – and when you do, make sure it’s clean (antibiotic /hormone free) like wild fish or some hormone /free range eggs)
- Increase diversity of high fiber vegetables
Next, I recommend reading the new Grain Brain book by David Perlmutter or Dave Asprey’s Game Changers for specific recommendations relating to resting insulin, vitamin D levels, hemoglobin A1C levels, fasting blood sugar, the amount of exercise, the amount/quality of sleep, etc.
YOU are worth the education and investment of time to learn what’s best for you (and your loved ones). AT the very least, search for podcasts with key words and these authors’ names and learn while you drive.
What have you got to GAIN? (Check my past posts if you’re still not sure!)
Until next time. Love yourself. Hug a person or a pet. Get outside. Laugh.
P.S. Want some more goodness on this subject?