Modern medicine is clearly vested in what I like to call the Las Vegas mentality. We’ve all heard that “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,” and it seems that, as it relates to medicine today, we still tend to look at illness as being uniquely related to the body system that is affected. For example, autism is thought to represent a brain disorder having to do with the development and functionality of that organ. This is despite the ever-increasing research that demonstrates significant gut abnormalities associated with this disorder. Further, a recent study has shown that giving children with asthma increased amounts of dietary fiber leads to significant improvement. This study clearly challenges the notion that asthma is specifically a lung related disorder.
The idea that dietary sugars increase the risk for such things as hypertension and the development of health threatening changes in lipid profiles is not new. But a commonly held perception has been that these health risks represented a direct consequence of the fact that increased dietary sugar consumption caused weight gain, and it was the weight gain that then was the cause of the rise in blood pressure, etc.
We are now learning that differences in the various species of bacteria that live within the intestines actually have a profound role in regulating metabolism. For example, researchers have demonstrated that when fecal material (rich in intestinal bacteria) from an obese human is transplanted into the colon of a normal laboratory rat, the animal will gain significant amounts of weight even though its diet remains unchanged.
New and exciting research is revealing a strong connection between our mood and the various bacteria that live within our intestines. This is certainly a sobering notion. Think of it: the bacteria living within the digestive system are, to some degree, involved in determining whether we are happy, sad, anxious or even depressed.
It seems self evident that consumption of sugar sweetened beverages would be associated with increased risk for type 2 diabetes (T2D). And in fact, this has been demonstrated in multiple studies. This is understandable when you consider what a powerful slug of fructose is delivered by each can or bottle of this stuff.
The blood-brain barrier (BBB) acts as a gatekeeper, protecting the brain from various toxic elements while allowing the entrance of various life-sustaining nutrients like water, glucose, amino acids, and gases that are essential for the function of the brain. It is formed by cells that line the capillaries and are connected by what are called “tight junctions,” quite similar to the tight junctions in the cells that line the gut.