Guest blogger Maia Walton, MD of The M Center
Many chronic illnesses, including Autism, can drastically improve by adjusting your diet. Sound too simplistic to be true? Bear with me as I connect the dots.
Research is finally coming to the forefront confirming how very important diet and nutrition are to your overall health. You ARE, in fact, what you eat. Hippocrates, the “Father of Modern Medicine”, said it thousands of years ago “All disease begins in the gut”. Let’s dive in shall we?
Your intestinal tract is filled with what we call your microbiome. Your microbiome consists of microscopic organisms like bacteria and yeast. Probiotics are the good bacteria in your intestines that help your intestines do what they do. We now know that different strains of these bacteria have different properties. Some synthesize vitamins, some help regulate your immune system, some help digest your food, some directly displace yeast off of the receptors on your intestinal cells, and some assist with speech and other cognitive functions and more! How is this possible?!
For starters, the cells that line your intestines are identical to the cells that line your brain and they talk to each other! They are part of the endocannibinoid system. In addition, there is a very large nerve, the Vagus nerve, that comes right off of your brainstem that innervates the first 2/3 of your intestines as a part of your autonomic or automatic nervous system. The kicker is that 75% of that nerve actually carries information FROM your intestinal tract BACK to your brain! Furthermore, seronotinin, a mood modulating neurotransmitter, is produced by your intestinal cells. That serotonin then goes to your brain to help regulate your mood. It also goes to the pineal gland where it is converted to melatonin which tells our brain when it’s time to go to sleep. So if you are having mood or behavioral disorders and difficulty sleeping, it may be time to check your gut and change your diet!!
There are a few straight forward things that need to be done if you haven’t done so already. Although it may be easier said than done, it’s time to give it a go. Firstly it’s time to do away with processed foods. There is a laundry list of reasons why but for now let’s focus on what we SHOULD be doing. Let’s begin incorporating as many organic fruits and vegetables that are in season as possible. Fruits and Veggies are full of antioxidants which help reduce oxidative stress and generalized inflammation. Organic because that removes pesticides and herbicides and their side effects from the picture as well as increases the likelihood that the produce is more nutrient rich – especially if you are buying fruit that is in season. When purchasing fresh fruit, know the advantages. Because the fruit is in season, it will be in abundance and, therefore, cheaper. It is more likely to be picked at it’s peak and packed with flavor and nutrition. When you are eating strawberries in January, know that they were harvested half-way across the world – prematurely. Then sprayed with chemicals to keep them from ripening during the long voyage to your local grocery store. If you MUST have things out of season, frozen is the next best thing. Frozen produce is picked in season and flash frozen to preserve as much of the nutrition possible. Continue reading this blog post at M Center’s website.
View the entire episode of Focus on Atlanta