Wednesday Open Thread: A New Connection between the Gut and Brain
It's Day 23 of the Year 2019 CE, meaning that it's January 23, 2019
The full headline, in the article to be cited below is:
A New Connection between the Gut and Brain
A surprising way that diet leads risks of stroke and cognitive impairment
Look at that mix and match, gut-brain connection, and diet. Gut-brain pathways have been on the radar for quite some time and consist, until very recently of endocrine (hormones and such), neurological (Vagas Nerve), and immune (cytokines). So what's all this now? Would you believe new news about old news? How about NaCl - Sodium Chloride, aka salt, as in table, sea, and all that. So, this is coming from the following article: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/a-new-connection-between-the-...
Ok, too much salt is bad. It causes high blood pressure, putting you at increased risk for heart attacks, strokes and the like. However, somewhat recent studies have shown high salt intake to be associated with strokes even in the absence of high blood pressure. As a result there have been some searching for a heretofore unknown link between salt and brain health issues. There is also a lot of work being done on the gut-brain axis and a growing knowledge that disruptions thereof can contribute to a wide range of diseases, including Parkinsons. The growth of research in this area included a couple of studies showing that high salt consumption led to serious immune changes in the gut which in turn made the brain increasingly susceptible to auto immune attacks.
Now, new research shows another connection: immune signals sent from the gut can compromise the brain’s blood vessels, leading to deteriorated brain heath and cognitive impairment. Surprisingly, the research unveils a previously undescribed gut–brain connection mediated by the immune system and indicates that excessive salt might negatively impact brain health in humans through impairing the brain’s blood vessels regardless of its effect on blood pressure.
The phrase "new research" is linked to this abstract Dietary salt promotes neurovascular and cognitive dysfunction through a gut-initiated TH17 response, here: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41593-017-0059-z#Sec12 OK, excessive salt intake can be trashing your brain even without elevating your blood pressure. Good to know if you're a hard core salt addict like myself. Isn't it nice to know that all of our processed, prepared and restaurant food is massively over salted?
Two more non-adjacent paragraphs from the article:
The researchers used mice, and found that immune responses in the small intestines set off a cascade of chemical responses reaching the brain’s blood vessels, reducing blood flow to the cortex and hippocampus, two brain regions crucial for learning and memory. This, in turn, brought a decline in tests of cognitive performance. The impairment in learning and memory was clear even in the absence of high blood pressure; they observed that the gut is reacting to the salt overload and directing immune signals that lay the basis for deterioration throughout the brain’s vital vascular complex and compromise cognitive function. While this study has only been carried out on research animals so far, the scientists believe it's likely that much of the same applies to people.
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The implications of this newly identified gut–brain connection extend to several auto immune disorders, including multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and inflammatory bowel disease, that have been shown to activate the same immune signaling pathway implicated in this study. These auto immune disorders have a high stroke risk and are linked to poorly functioning blood vessels in the nervous system. This research is also a demonstration that what we eat affects how we think, and that seemingly isolated parts of the body can play vital roles in brain health. These results motivate research on how everyday stressors to our digestive systems and blood vessels might change the brain and, consequently, how we see, and experience, the world.
I can attest to the bit about outlook, for I've always had a somewhat salty outlook on life. Nonetheless, let us not forget that salt is necessary for survival, it is simply a question of balance. According to the article, almost everybody around the globe consumes too much salt, about twice what the WHO recommend. Perhaps that's because, relatively speaking, almost everybody around the globe is part of the working class and thus:
And remember, high blood pressure needn't be present for these effects to occur:
Image is: Brain 19 by www.modup.net/
Its an open thread so have at it. The floor is yours
I will probably not participate, because, if things go right, I'll be in Mazatlan