Mayer Emeran - The mind-gut connection

Author : Mayer Emeran
Title : The mind-gut connection
Year : 2016

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Chapter 1. The mind-body connection is real. When I started medical school in 1970, doctors looked at the human body as a complicated machine with a finite number of independent parts. On average, it functioned for about seventy-five years, provided you took care of it and fed it the right fuel. Like a high-quality car, it ran well, provided that it didn’t have any major accidents, and that no parts were irreversibly compromised or broken. A few routine checkups during a lifetime were all you were expected to do to prevent any unexpected calamities. Medicine and surgery provided powerful tools to fix acute problems, such as infections, accidental injuries, or heart disease. However, over the past forty to fifty years, something fundamental has gone wrong with our health, and the old model no longer seems to be able to provide an explanation or a solution of how to fix the problems. What’s happening can no longer be easily explained simply by a single malfunctioning organ or gene. Instead, we are beginning to realize that the complex regulatory mechanisms that help our bodies and brains adapt to our rapidly changing environment are in turn being impacted by our changing lifestyles. These mechanisms do not operate independently, but as parts of a whole. They regulate our food intake, metabolism and body weight, our immune system, and the development and health of our brains. We are just beginning to realize that the gut, the microbes living in it - the gut microbiota - and the signaling molecules that they produce from their vast number of genes - the microbiome - constitute one of the major components of these regulatory systems. In this book, I will offer a revolutionary new look at how the brain, the gut, and the trillions of microorganisms living in the gut communicate with each other. In particular, I will focus on the role these connections play in maintaining the health of our brain and our gut. I will discuss the negative consequences on the health of these two organs when their cross talk is disturbed, and propose ways of how to obtain optimal health by reestablishing and optimizing brain-gut communications. Even in medical school, the traditional, prevailing approach did not sit quite right with me. Despite all the studying of organ systems and disease mechanisms, I was surprised that there rarely was any mention of the brain and its possible involvement in such common diseases as stomach ulcers, hypertension, or chronic pain. ...

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