A team of researchers from the University of Virginia recently discovered a direct link between the brain and the immune system, via LYMPHATIC VESSELS that were not previously known to exist in the brain.
Similar to blood vessels, which carry blood throughout your body, lymphatic vessels carry immune calls throughout your body. Recall from our post “Exercise Tips”, March 4, 2015, that the lymphatic system also has another very important function, which is to get rid of metabolic waste.
Previously, it was believed that lymphatic vessels stopped before reaching the brain. The new discovery, which detected such vessels beneath a mouse’s scull, could open avenues for understanding AUTISM, MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS, ALZHEIMER’S, and many other diseases. The lymphatic vessels may play a major role in neurological diseases that have an immune component.
It is becoming increasingly clear that our brain, our immune system and our gut microbes are intricately linked. Autism, for instance, is associated with gastrointestinal problems and potentially an over-reaction in the immune system.
Neurological diseases like multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s have long been linked to changes in immune system function, and autoimmune diseases of the gut, like Crohn’s disease, correlate with psychiatric illness.
It wasn’t always clear how such connections occurred, but now both a gut-brain axis and a pathway from our immune system into the brain have been uncovered.
In a study the lymphatic vessels were detected in the meninges, the protective membranes that cover the brain, and found to closely follow blood vessels.
The study’s lead author, Jonathan Kipnis, a professor in the University of Virginia’s (UVA) Department of Neurosciences and the director of UVA’s Center for Brain Immunology, highlighted the importance of the discovery as follows:
“We believe that for every neurological disease that has an immune component to it, these vessels may play a major role…
In Alzheimer’s (for example), there are accumulations of big protein chunks in the brain. We think they may be accumulating in the brain because THESE VESSELS are NOT EFFICIENTLY REMOVING them.”
Suffice it to say, for our purposes, that there is an intimate and essential link between the brain and the immune system and that the lymphatic system plays an important role in removing metabolic waste from the brain as with the rest of the body.
We’ll get into HOW WE INCREASE EFFICIENCY in the lymphatic system shortly.
MICROBES IN OUR GUT INFLUENCE OUR BRAIN, TOO
It’s not only your immune system that has a direct line to your brain. Your gut, which is teeming with microbial life, also communicates with your brain. This communication runs both ways and is the pathway for how foods affect your mood or why anxiety can make you sick to your stomach.
This also explains why changes in your gut bacteria are linked to brain disorders and more, including depression.
SO, YOUR ALTERING YOUR GUT BACTERIA MAY INFLUENCE YOUR MOOD.
In one study, it was reported that the PROBIOTIC known as Bifidobacterium longum might help normalize anxiety-like behavior in mice with infectious colitis.
THE INFLAMATORY CONNECTION BETWEEN YOUR GUT AND YOUR BRAIN
Your gut is also the starting point for inflammation – it’s actually the gatekeeper for your inflammatory response. You gut’s microorganisms trigger the production of cytokines. Cytokines are involved in regulating your immune system’s response to inflammation and infection.
Putting it simply, your body’s parts are intricately connected, and the HEALTH OF YOUR GUT is of utmost importance to the health of your brain and that of your immune system.
- We need to make sure our lymphatic system is functioning optimally
- We need to maintain a well functioning immune system
in order to optimize our TOTAL HEALTH; bodily and mental.
HOW DO WE GO ABOUT THIS?
The answer is in many of the previous posts; adapting a proper life style.
- What we eat
- Our activities (sports, etc.)
- Our mental well being
LET’S START WITH THE LYMPHATIC SYSTEM
Given the important role that the lymphatic system plays in our life and the fact that it doesn’t have a PUMP like our cardio vascular system to help the flow, what can we do?
I mentioned in the “Exercise Tips” post of March 4, 2015, that before I start lifting, I warm up on a rebounder.
This is an excellent way to assist the circulation of your lymphatic system.
Another great way to assist is to dry-brush before your shower.
Running (which I don’t recommend), sprinting (HIIT), and walking are also suggested ways to improve the system’s efficiency.
NOW, THE IMMUNE SYSTEM
As you know from previous posts, 90 % of your immune system is in your gut and in your microbiome.
I suggest that you re-read:
- “A Short Note on Prebiotics/Probiotics and Our Microbiome” post, dated March 24, 2015,
- “ The Parasite That Effects 250 Million Americans: Candida” post, dated September 28, 2015, and
- “ A Simple Test for Detecting Whether Candida Has Corrupted Your Internal Flora” post, dated October 5, 2015.
I can guess that most of you are thinking “Is this guy serious? Does he expect us to read that stuff all over again?”
I’ll summarize for my lazy friends:
EAT AND DRINK
Home made yogurt, kefir, kombucha, fermented vegetables, meat, fowl, fish, vegetables and low GI fruits (only in the morning)
That is, eat real food.
DON’T EAT OR DRINK
Prepared foods (in a can, box, wrapper, etc.)
Grains, grain product, sugar, artificially sweetened products, artificially flavored foods, foods containing artificial coloring, anything with High Fructose Corn Syrup in it (believe me there is a lot), anything with MSG in it, dairy and dairy products, and legumes.
That’s all I remember right now. Read the above quoted posts if you want more details on what and what NOT TO EAT.
As we are talking about the immune system, we should also mention our MICROBIOME.
Just two points:
- Mothers to be, if possible have a natural birth; C-Sections deprive the baby of being introduced to the microbes, etc., as it is passing through the birth canal. This makes them vulnerable to many sicknesses during childhood.
- Don’t shower with shampoo and soap every day. Use “good” shampoos and soaps once every 7-10 days. Just water on other days.
That’s it. See you all next week.