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You Are What You Eat!

A new study out of Brigham and Women's Hospital puts a new twist on the adage, "You are what you eat."  In this instance, researchers were looking at the "gut brain" and how it plays a role in inflammation of the human brain.

Human Fetal Astrocyte

The researchers found that bacteria in the gut produce molecules known as astrocytes. These molecules are derived from tryptophan, which is an amino acid found in high protein foods such as chicken, turkey, fish, and nuts.  These astrocytes, once formed, reside in the brain and spinal cord and serve to limit inflammatory activity there. During this study, it was found that multiple sclerosis patients had low levels of these tryptophan -derived molecules. Tryptophan is also essential in the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood and mental activity.  According to the study author, "Deficits in the gut flora, deficits in the diet, or deficits in the ability to uptake these products from the gut flora or transport them from the gut--any of the may lead to the deficits that contribute to disease progression."

Science is really only beginning to understand the role of gut bacteria and parasites in multiple sclerosis and other chronic pain disorders. Another study at New York University's Langone Medical Center found that these organisms are beneficial in helping to balance the immune system. In a prior post, I mentioned this topic--specifically, how we have higher rates of Crohn's disease in the US as compared to lesser developed nations, where sanitary practices are not as stringent as ours, but the rates of inflammatory bowel disease are lower!

Sources: PainNewsNetwork; Everyday Pain Management Ideas; Wikimedia


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