Article by Serena Peck
Graphic design by Sherry An
Have you ever heard of the notion that our gut microbiome is considered its own organ? While this may still be debated, it is undeniable that a healthy gut microbiome is important for our health like any other organ. Personally, I never paid too much attention to this topic, and never learned much about it in school. However, I have always suffered from gut issues and recently they became particularly severe. So, I figured why not read this book?
In Brain Maker, Dr. Perlmutter takes the reader on a journey explaining how our gut microbiome is connected to our brain and how a healthy gut is necessary for neurological protection—a subject that has often been neglected. Some topics covered in this book include the effects of diet and environment on our gut, disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), allergies, obesity, autism, and depression in relation to the gut microbiome, as well as prebiotic and probiotic foods. Brain Maker may seem like a heavy read with complex topics, but Dr. Perlmutter integrates patient stories and anecdotes to ease the reader into the content.
The book begins with Part I discussing what the gut microbiome is and how the state of our microbiome is key for health. For me, this was something I was somewhat familiar with, but it was a very well written overview and did touch upon new evidence I had yet to explore. Chapter One caught my attention as it takes the reader through different scenarios regarding the importance of our microbiome—even from the moment we are born! For example, Dr. Perlmutter describes that in the U.S., a third of infants are born by c-section and are thus exposed to antibiotics received by the mother. This results in the infant having a five-fold increased risk of allergies, triple the risk of ADHD, twice the risk of autism, 70 percent increased risk of type-1 diabetes, and a predisposed risk to many more disorders as well.
Later in Part I, the book describes dietary, lifestyle, and environmental effects on the microbiome. Dr. Perlmutter lists how ailments most often found in North America (obesity, ADHD, diabetes, chronic fatigue, allergies, etc.) are a byproduct of the Western diet which can predispose us to disease. This had me thinking about my own life and what may be contributing to my unhealthy gut. I grew up on the Western diet, and as I mentioned, I have always suffered from gut issues. Could this be why?
Thankfully, not all hope is lost. Part II and III cover diet, prebiotic, and probiotic foods. Dr. Perlmutter gives explanations on what makes a food prebiotic or probiotic and lists examples of how to introduce these into your diet for improved gut health. Personally, I found this quite helpful and thus began slowly introducing these types of food into my diet.
Overall, I think this book is an interesting read and can be a steppingstone for people to do their own research in this area. Brain Maker is written not as a scholarly publication but as a very powerful introductory source. It is also written with such enthusiasm that it was hard to put down. After reading this book, I began further educating myself on gut health and the microbiome to make changes to my diet for the better. I open the invitation to you. Perhaps you will find something useful by reading this book, or like me, you may find some answers about your own health.