Neurological deaths and diseases like dementia are on the rise worldwide. Increasing evidence suggests that non-genetic factors, like our diet, play a major role in the development and prevention of these conditions.
By Greg Maguire
Recent studies suggest that about 70-90% of the risk factors for chronic disease are within our exposome. The exposome encompasses all of our environmental exposures throughout life. These exposures include interactions with chemicals that can happen in a variety of ways, for example through our diet. The exposome has also been shown to be critical to the development of neurodegenerative disorders.
What causes neurodegeneration?
In a recent review article published in Reviews in the Neurosciences, scientists from California discuss how a number of neurodegenerative diseases have few if any genetic underpinnings, but rather seem to be diseases of environmental exposure that originate at the level of translation or post-translational modification of active cellular proteins. That is, they are influenced by the environmental chemicals that are interacting with the protein-making processes within our bodies. Translation is the initial making of the protein, whereas post-translational modifications are changes in the initial protein structure, occurring throughout the lifetime of the protein and modifying the protein’s function in some way.
Our exposome comprises all of the chemicals that we breathe, ingest, absorb and produce ourselves, such as the stress related molecule, cortisol. Of those chemicals in our exposome, the most easily controlled by our own behavior are those in our diet. Just how important to our health are those molecules that we eat and drink? The results from experimental, epidemiological, clinical, evolutionary, and comparative zoological studies suggest these molecules are critical to lifespan and healthspan (the length of time that you are healthy, as opposed to just alive).
Good old fashioned food
Consider that early man, as well as a closely related great ape, the Chimpanzee – whose DNA shares 96% homology to our own – eat a low fat, low protein, predominately vegetable diet with large amounts of fiber. Not only do the nutrients of the vegetables feed our brains, but the fiber that is contained in the vegetables and fermented by bacteria in our guts provides metabolites, such as the short chain fatty acids propionic acid and butyrate, which also feed our brains. And feeding our brains with vegetables will do so without creating neuroinflammation whilst properly regulating our immune system. In contrast, our modern diet, replete with large quantities of fat and lacking sufficient fiber, will induce neuroinflammation and disturb the bacterial content of the gut (dysbiosis) increasing our risk factors for neurodegenerative diseases. Moreover, this dysbiosis will lead to errors in post-translational modifications of proteins, causing the proteins to become dysfunctional and to self-replicate and spread throughout the nervous system, which can have devastating effects.
Ultimately, according to the scientists from California, eating a low-fat, plant based diet with adequate amounts of fiber will increase our ability to feed our brains, reduce neuroinflammation, and prevent the induction of protein dysfunction and its spreading phenomenon that eventually destroys the brain.
Read the original article here:
Mia Maguire & Greg Maguire: Gut dysbiosis, leaky gut, and intestinal epithelial proliferation in neurological disorders: towards the development of a new therapeutic using amino acids, prebiotics, probiotics, and postbiotics, 03.09.2018.