The Gut, The Brain & Grains: Most people know about the brain, but haven’t heard the concept of the “little brain.” The “little brain” is the enteric nervous system which is commonly referred to as “gut instincts.” Without getting too detailed or complicated, your body essentially has 2 brains, the “big brain” and the “little brain.” The big brain is located in the skull and processes sensory information like position sense, pain, heat, cold, posture and others while producing outputs like movement, speech, coordination, balance, memory, etc. The “little brain” confines itself solely to the digestive system, tweaking the local environment of the digestive system to sense and process sensory information, interpret and produce mechanical movement of solids and liquids, mount counterattacks against foreign invaders (bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites), digest and absorb nutrients, and begin the excretion process to get rid of wastes. The “big brain” and
“little brain” can work together or work apart. Both brains provide us with checks and balances to keep us in good health; but, what happens when we ignore our “gut instincts” and eat grains?
Grains cause an inflammatory reaction in the body. This inflammatory reaction travels all over the body including to the brain. The inflammatory reaction is linked with an autoimmune process as the proteins from grains can leak out of the intestines (leaky gut syndrome). This autoimmune inflammatory reaction wrecks havoc on the body leading down the pathway to chronic disease (metabolic syndrome, diabetes, heart disease, increased cholesterol, increase triglycerides, cancer, kidney disease, liver problems, headaches, asthma, etc.). The autoimmune inflammatory reaction in the brain affects the normal chemical balance. In particular it affects the ability to produce and regulate neurohormones (hormones that impact brain function). These hormones lead to neurological diseases such as ADD, ADHD, Autism, Autism Spectrum Disorders, Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s Disease and others.
The gut (“little brain) – big brain connection is becoming of increased importance to medical researchers since the prevalence of chronic disease is increasing. Central to this topic is the myth that a whole grain, whole wheat diet is essential for your health. The truth is quite the opposite. Grains have no nutritional value. Grains can contribute to the diseases that they are claimed to prevent. Fiber can be obtained from non-grain sources such as raw fruits and vegetables.
Grains are prevalent in the standard American diet (SAD). By the way, is it any coincidence that the acronym for the standard American diet is SAD? In summary, grains wreak havoc on our body and brain. We need to rethink our reliance on grains as a food staple or else we will face the harsh realities and challenges of chronic disease. Indeed, this scenario is very SAD.