Brain fog. Memory loss. The inability to concentrate for a long period of time. Does it sound familiar?
That foggy feeling in your head, lapses in memory, and even mood swings are all signs of a leaky brain.
While leaky brain sounds like something out of a sci-fi flick, it’s really the phrase that many health practitioners use to describe a brain that is no longer protected by a healthy blood-brain barrier.
The blood-brain barrier is like a net of tiny blood vessels that plays gatekeeper to the brain. When it’s doing its job, the blood-brain barrier keeps infectious microbes and toxins out of the brain.
But the blood-brain barrier is made of blood vessels, which are vulnerable to stress. They can become weak and leaky—allowing harmful microbes and neurotoxins to enter the brain.
This happens when the blood vessels are inflamed.
Inflammation is oftentimes a systemic thing. Meaning, it shows up in multiple areas of the body, usually in the same types of tissue.
Unfortunately, this means that when the gut is inflamed (and leaky), the blood-brain barrier is also inflamed (and leaky).
Recently, researchers from Sweden and Singapore teamed up and found that your gut bacteria have a profound affect on your blood-brain barrier. They discovered that good gut bacteria have the same anti-inflammatory effects in the brain as they have in the gut.
This is why I always recommend plenty of leafy green vegetables, starchy vegetables, and grain-like seeds (such as amaranth, quinoa. buckwheat, and millet). These foods all have one thing in common: Fiber.
Fibrous plant foods feed the good bacteria living in the gut, encouraging them to make plenty of short-chain fats—which act as a powerful anti-inflammatory in the gut and the brain.
Of course, don’t forget about cultured foods, like sauerkraut and kefir! They literally inoculate the gut with these wonderful, anti-inflammatory microbes.
Braniste, V., Al-Asmakh, M., Kowal, C., Anuar, F., Abbaspour, A., Tóth, M., ... & Pettersson, S. (2014). The gut microbiota influences blood-brain barrier permeability in mice. Science Translational Medicine, 6(263), 263ra158-263ra158.