Brain Maker by David Perlmutter is a fascinating look on how gut bacteria impacts our health.
- Your gut bacteria has a tremendous effect on your health and (mental) well being
- Avoid antibiotics unless necessary needed
- Eat more fermented food
Bacteria in Our Gut Make Us Fat
The type of bacteria we have in our gut can influence our overall health.
There are two major types of bacteria:
And while we don’t know what’s the best ratio one should have, we know that they act very differently and that having too many or too little of them can cause issues.
Perlmutter says that researchers found that Africans have more bacteroidetes while Westerners have more calorie-extracting firmicutes.
He implies that having more firmicutes may partly explain the higher incidence of obesity in the West.
Gut Bacteria Can Cause Brain Damage
An upset gut with gut bacteria imbalances can cause:
- ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder)
Healthy Gut Reduces Stress
An experiment had 3 groups of people eating for four weeks either:
- Two servings of yogurt with probiotics a day
- Yogurt without probiotics
- No change in diet
At the end of the four weeks period the group eating probiotics showed a significantly reduced excitability to external stressful stimuli.
This is a similar effect that meditation has on your brain!
How to Take Care of Gut Bacteria
And now finally to the good part. What can we do to protect and take care of our gut bacteria?
Avoid fructose, gluten and toxins. Fasten and only take antibiotics when strictly needed.
Unluckily it’s not easy to avoid all toxins from man-made chemicals and it’s not even easy to use antibiotics.
Chemicals are used in abundance to grow crops and many industrial producers use antibiotics to make live cattle grow bigger and fatter.
To you it means you should try to eat from local producers as much as possible (read The Omnivore’s Dilemma)
Food to Avoid
And avoid the following food:
- Processed food
- Sweetened food
- Less carbs (pizza, pasta, white bread)
- Ice cream
Food to Eat
- Turmeric (full of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant)
- Coconut oil
- Healthy fats (avocado, olive oil)
And eat fermented food such as:
- Yogurt (unsweetened!)
- Black tea
Real Life Applications
Doctors prescribe antibiotics too easily. Sometimes even for ailments they have no effect on (such as cold or flu)!
Antibiotics are useful, but only take them when it’s really needed.
Get a Priobitics Chaser
If you need antibiotic, get a probiotics drink right after.
Chlorine is harmful to your gut microbiome. You might want to consider a filter to apply to your tap water.
Take Care of Your Gut!
Avoid plastics and eat more fermented food. It can have the same effects of meditation (!). But more studies needed there.
Correlation is No Proof
The author says that since Africans have more bacteroidetes than westerners, that could mean that firmicutes are at least partially responsible for obesity.
That’s typical induction reasoning fallacy and it’s not science to me.
Intriguing But Not Scientific
Brain Make introduces a new captivating idea, but it’s not the result of a comprehensive look at the overall science.
Take it as an interesting subject and as the source of new good ideas, but not as the current state of research literature.
This “con” was inspired by a Yale review of Brain Maker.
Mind Opening Look on Health
Brain Maker is mind opening and swings open a new door in my health research: it’s not just the food you eat, but it’s also who processes that food in our body (the micro-organisms in our gut).
Tremendously Helpful Information
A lot of the information in Brain Maker finds direct application in our lives.
For example I was thinking of giving up yogurt to avoid diaries but I’m not so sure anymore right now.
David Perlmutter is a rather controversial doctor writing on nutrition and I was expecting a bit of the same from Grain Brain.
There is indeed an overlap between the two books, but I find Brain Maker even better.
I can definitely recommend Brain Maker to anyone looking to improve their health or to understanding their bodies better.