Michelle Eisenmann is a chiropractic doctor and has a master’s degree in clinical neurology. In this conversation, you will get an insight into why gut health matters in brain health.
05:15 From Chiropractic to Neurology
07:32 Functional Neurology
13:40 The Brain and Gut Connection
21:26 The Gut-Brain
29:19 Gut Functions
37:14 The Advertisements
47:15 What Is Leaky Brain?
57:42 Unhealthy Consumption
1:12:10 The Great Influencers
The nutritional advice was, you know, I think it was, drink eight glasses of water a day. And it’s okay if some of those eight glasses are coffee or tea, because they liquid and therefore part of that eight glasses. I made you laugh why did you laugh so much?
Because I just remember hearing that myself as well. And, you know, we know that coffee caffeine can dehydrate as well. So, it’s just funny that that was, you know, one thing that we all talked about you know drink coffee like for hydration,
It sounded like a good idea at the time. And the thing about coffee, it was probably a coffee company that gave us that information, drink eight glasses of water a day and make sure one of them’s a cup of coffee or a cup of tea. I’m pretty sure that’s how we were educated it was the corporation’s educating us.
This is the recovery after stroke podcast, with Bill Gasiamis, helping you navigate recovery after stroke.
Hello and welcome to recovery after stroke a podcast full of answers, advice and practical tools for stroke survivors to help you take back your life after a stroke and build a stronger future.
I’m your host three times stroke survivor Bill Gasiamis. After my own life was turned upside down and I went from being an active father that’s being stuck in hospital. I knew if I wanted to get back to the life I loved before my recovery was up to me.
After years of researching and discovering alone how to heal my brain and rebuild a healthier and happier life than I ever dreamed possible. And now I’ve made it my mission to empower other stroke survivors like you to recover faster, achieve your goals and take back the freedom you deserve.
If you enjoy this episode and want more resources, accessible training and a hands on support, check out my recovery after stroke membership community created especially for stroke survivors and caregivers, this is your clear pathway to transform your symptoms, reduce your anxiety and navigate your journey to recovery with confidence.
Head to recoveryafterstroke.com To find out more after this podcast. But for now let’s dive in to today’s episode. This is Episode 158. And my guest today is chiropractic Dr. Michelle Eisenmann.
In this episode, we’ll be talking about the link between gut health and brain health and how a healthy gut is important in stroke recovery. Dr. Michelle Eisenmann welcome to the podcast.
Hi, thanks for having me.
Oh my God, thank you for being here. Your Instagram is one of my favorite channels. And we’re gonna get into why in a little while. But before we talk about what made me contact you. Tell me a little bit about the work that you do.
Yes, so I am currently a chiropractor in the great state of Texas. I have a master’s degree in clinical neurology. And I have fellowship studies also with traumatic brain injury patients.
I work with the military population. Mainly I’ve worked with civilians as well. But I focus a lot of my work on blast injury, traumatic brain injury patients, I’ve worked with post stroke as well and vestibular and dizziness.
And now I have started and that I do that all clinically in a clinical setting. But I have now also started a side business for myself, called brain charge. And I have created that business because I noticed that there’s a big gap in between people going to different clinics, whether they be traditional medicine or whether they be more alternative types of medicine.
That you don’t really get a handbook after a brain injury as to how to reintegrate back into life. And quality of life really suffers from this. And although a lot of people have the sentiment of being very happy with their symptoms, decreasing after experience or experiencing certain treatments, we don’t really have that transition to going back home.
And so with that side business that I call brain charge, on purpose as a brain in charge, you are in charge of your brain. I do teach and I coach people on how to do habits, sleep, you know any supplements that they need toxins, exposure, exercise pretty much anything more lifestyle oriented so that people can get a good handle on themselves. And then just keep moving on and improving with quality of life but that’s a big gap that I saw in in every single aspect of healthcare.
So you’re a chiropractor? And then you did a master’s in neurology.
From Chiropractic to Neurology
And then how did you have the time to do all of that kind of stuff? I mean that’s too much study for one person. What led you from chiropractic to neurology, I kind of get the link, but tell me why you moved from that path to neurology?
That’s a great question. When I was younger, when I was in college, I shadowed a neurologist and physiatrist. Here in Dallas, Texas, they were very reputable. And I, my desire to help people with brain injuries really come from my mom.
She is a three time cancer survivor. Chemotherapy did a number on her and her brain too as many other cancer survivors. I have a grandfather that served in the military and had blast injury exposures.
And so I really wanted to help people like them improve quality of life. As I was shadowing these doctors, I thought that my only option was to become a neurologist or a physiatrist.
And they sat me down one day, and they said, Hey, just to let you know, if I could retrude my profession I would. That was pretty shocking to me. At the time, I was a little immature.
So I didn’t think that that was coming from a loving perspective, I immediately thought that I was like, Oh, they just don’t want me to be successful. But after I started listening a little bit more, I started realizing that there are different ways to help people, and there’s not just one singular way.
And so from there, I always knew that I wanted to go into neuroscience, I always knew I loved neurology. But that’s how I found a chiropractic. I started finding people that were doing functional neurology and these functional aspects of neuroscience that really were in tuned with quality of life, which is what I saw a decrease and from my mom, from my grandfather and myself after some experiences I’ve had as well. And that’s how I went into chiropractic really.
Funcional Neurology For Brain Health
Okay. So tell me about what Functional Neurology is, that’s a new term for a lot of people. So give us an explanation on what that is.
So there is a lot of back and forth on the name functional neurology, some people have a good connotation or bad connotation with it, I can tell you what it means to me. It’s not just clinical neurology, functional neurology is seeing different symptoms and tracing them back to the function of the brain in the function associated in that brain area localization.
Really good example of this is eye movements. So I know a lot of people are very in tune when it comes to speech or eye movements in these specific functions that are actually tied to specific areas of the brain. And so as a functional neurologist or clinical neurologist, however you want to name it, if you’re more on the rehabilitation side of neurology, something that you do a lot is pinpoint symptoms, two functions of the brain and find ways to rehab it while using neuroplasticity as a basis and a foundation for it.
Okay, that seems logical. One of the biggest issues I think that people face is that they have a brain injury, they don’t know what causes their brain injury. So a lot of people also don’t know that they can go and see a neuro psychologist, and at that neuro psychologist, appointment or meeting, they can get diagnosed with specifically what the cognitive impairments are, what the actual issues are.
And therefore, what are they related to, but often in that, at least in my experience with neuro psych assessment in Australia, the issue was that even though I had the evaluation, the report was handed over to, say, a rehabilitation hospital where they rehabilitated me but they never had the conversation with me.
Which was, these are the results, and it says that the issue with your speech is coming from this part of the brain, which has been affected and this is how it has been affected. And this is how we can retrain that to get it back, for example. There was none of that deep dive into the challenges that I’m facing and why I’m facing them and how to recover them.
So I like that functional approach that you’re talking about. I think it’s really useful, especially for caregivers who need to understand what’s going on with their loved one and don’t understand why they’re doing something or how something is happening and how they’re going to retrain it.
They know that they’ve got to do rehab, but they don’t know the purpose of rehab. They don’t know what’s behind it. And that’s, I think, another conversation that would perhaps motivate people to rehabilitate (inaudible) or their speech in a more nuanced, fine tuned kind of way I think, feels like it’s more informative.
Yeah. So that’s funny that you say that I actually really encourage caregivers, spouses, any kind of person involved, to be a part of the clinical aspect, or this more lifestyle driven online business I have, because I always say this to my clients and patients like knowledge equals understanding. And when you understand you can actually properly heal.
And I do agree with you that most of this aspect of funcional neurology really comes a lot with understanding how the brain functions, and just doing things for it. Because there’s no monopoly on health, there’s no monopoly on brain health. Everyone has a brain. I don’t know anyone that doesn’t have one. So everyone can learn how to use their brain, and especially in the brain injury community that has a specific interest in optimizing their brain function.
My brother used to tell me, I didn’t have a brain. And I had to have brain surgery to prove to him that I did.
Sounds like a sibling thing though.
Yeah, he’s wrong. You know, it’s not true Harry, I’ve got a brain. He was older than me. So it made sense that he would say that I didn’t have a braid like it was, you know, standard stuff.
So got like the younger brother stuff.
Yeah, yeah, I showed him, let me tell you. Okay, I’m loving that. So one of the big challenges, that people face is they don’t, up until recently there hasn’t been a lot of information about actually, what the brain is actually linked to.
And it’s on your head, it’s discussed in medicine, as a specialty. You know, we’re going to speak to the neurologist about your brain, we’re going to speak to a cardiologist about the heart, the gastroenterologist about gut. And it’s kind of been separated from the rest of the body, the head in a way, which I think has created misunderstanding in the general population about how they’re all linked.
Now the brain is linked to the rest of the body via the vagus nerve, and via the spine and the cerebral spinal fluid, and all those things that are necessary for the brain to actually take part in running things in our body.
I call it the supercomputer, it has the responsibility to modulate and run and send signals and messages and receive signals and messages and process them and do all sorts of things.
The Brain and Gut Connection
And one of the things that I noticed immediately, after I became unwell with my brain, was that my bowels started to really change the way that they were working I had a real problem with going to the toilet or not being able to go to the toilet or having bloating conditions and all that kind of stuff.
What’s the link between the gut and the head and why does the gut get impacted after a stroke? And after brain surgery? How is that a thing what goes on there because I’m sure there’s a lot of people that have had gastrointestinal issues and haven’t realized that they’re connected.
And that I haven’t also realized that having a bad gut situation or a difficult gut situation or an unhealthy gut is going to decrease the neurological recovery after an event like a stroke. Can we dive into that?
100% you say something really key by the way, I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of Dr. Lisa Moscone. She’s a fantastic doctor that is studying women’s brains after menopause, specifically, and she actually said something similar to that people have this understanding that the brain is like, in a box like a black box that’s separated from the rest of the body because it’s just centered in the skull.
But that’s actually not true. It is kind of like a supercomputer. It does communicate with everything. That is one of the things that I actually learned heavily in my chiropractic school is that the spinal cord and the nerves that come from the brain do communicate with the rest of the body.
It’s one of the things that got me really interested in it. But on the side note of that, you are correct in the sense that you also mentioned the vagus nerve, there is a specific link in between your brain and your gut. And there is an actual physical link.
If you’ve had a stroke, and you’re in recovery, you’ll know what a scary and confusing time it can be, you’re likely to have a lot of questions going through your mind. Like how long will it take to recover? Will I actually recover? What things should I avoid in case I make matters worse, or doctors will explain things that obviously, you’ve never had a stroke before, you probably don’t know what questions to ask.
If this is you, you may be missing out on doing things that could help speed up your recovery. If you’re finding yourself in that situation. Stop worrying, and head to recoveryafterstroke.com where you can download a guide that will help you. It’s called the seven questions to ask your doctor about your stroke.
These seven questions are the ones Bill wished he’d asked when he was recovering from a stroke, they’ll not only help you better understand your condition, and they’ll help you take a more active role in your recovery. head to the website. Now, recoveryafterstroke.com and download the guide. It’s free.
In between your central nervous system and your enteric nervous system, which is more than ever system that regulates gut motility and ghrelin secretion to tell you if you’re satiated or not, permeability is something that can happen as well. One of the things that I want to dive into a little bit more is the area from which that nerve actually comes out of is called the brainstem.
One of the things that happens often in strokes and brain injuries is first if you have a traumatic brain injury, whether it be like a physical one, whether it be translational or rotational, there’s usually always an issue in the brainstem, always. Also, if you have a stroke, sometimes you have a lot of brainstem involvement.
Even if it may be hemispheric. There is something called maybe butchering this but called diastasis or diathesis, one of those two, I’ve heard both terms. I don’t know, I knew two languages, but maybe not that one. The issue with that is that if one area of the brain is damaged, the other area that has a connection to it may also suffer damage, because it’s no longer supplying information to that area as a connection, as feedback.
I’m going to feel that I’m going to interrupt there because that’s a really key important point. So what you’re saying is there’s communication pathways through the vagus nerve, which is it’s called the vagus nerve, because I think in Latin that represents the wandering nerve, because it goes to all parts of the body, to all the organs to the eyes, to every aspect of the body.
So what happens is, there’s damage up in the brain, the communication pathways, via the vagus nerve, are interrupted, and the fact that one of those pathways of communication to that specific organ or part of the body gets interrupted, and because that other on the other side that information can’t get through. That impacts that organ.
Correct. Very, very correct. And, that happens within the brain itself. And with that communication highway as well. This is what how we were talking earlier about eye movements with similar function in that areas of the brain that are involved in eye movement are then having issues and difficulties potentially with the nerve or the muscles that supplies to move them.
It’s the same school of thought when you’re talking about the gut. Now, here’s the super interesting part about it. That is very different from eye movement, when we’re talking about the gut. There is bi directional feedback in between your brain and the gut.
Which means and I love saying this if your brain is on fire your guts on fire, if your guts on fire, your brain is on fire, I actually took a little bit of notes here on the side from specific studies that talk about this just to quote a few, but it says, you know, most studies on gastrointestinal dysfunction after a TBI focused on the upper gastrointestinal tract, including delayed gastric emptying, and esophageal reflux.
We also talk about how we show decreased motility in the small intestine, decreased intestinal contractility activity, which can actually be an issue with voiding. And something else that I wanted to talk about is, the microbiome is now being observed through the gut, to activate the vagus nerve back, as well.
So I know that’s a concept that, at first, it’s difficult to understand, because we’re thinking microbiome, we’re thinking more chemical orientation of things versus nerve, which feels more physical orientation of things. But that is where these worlds collide.
And so then you have inflammation, which is just a fancy word to say we have an immune response in our body, that can be propagated through different pathogens, toxins, micro organisms, mold, toxicity, parasites that can then influence back up through the vagus nerve and give incorrect or correct feedback to the brain.
The Gut Brain
Yeah, it makes complete sense to me, I’ve spent a lot of time since about 2012 looking into this and learning about it and seeing what I can find online about it. And we’re starting to talk, the medical community starting to talk about the gut as the second brain.
And a lot of people don’t realize that the gut has neurons, it has about the same amount of neurons as a dog’s as a cat’s brain, which is several 100 million. And therefore, if you just take that little bit of information and get curious about what could that mean, to me, when I heard that what it means is it has a level of intelligence.
And that’s the part that refers back to those comments that we make in our conversations such as you know, I’ve got butterflies in my stomach, or I followed my gut instinct, or I didn’t have the guts to do this. And in those moments of conversation, if you ever catch yourself talking about your gut, in your conversation, it would be good to step back and go, Okay, why am I saying that?
What does that actually mean? What am I trying to elicit here? Is it some kind of a spell that I was under? How did I get to that point where I’m using part of my body to describe in a sentence that describes how I was feeling like, the other conversation that we have sometimes is, I’ll wear my heart on my sleeve, we say stuff like that I followed my heart.
But what does that even mean? Did the heart guy for a walk? And you thought you’d follow it? What does that mean? So I love the fact that science is moving in that path of describing the gut as more than just a tube where stuff goes in and poop comes out. It’s not that at all, it is such a bad it had been given such a bad rep, you know, all these years.
But the reality is, is that what’s in your gastrointestinal tract is in fact, not in your body, because it’s supposed to be extracting nutrients, and getting rid of the waste. But the permeability, which is something you touched on a little bit ago, actually is starting to allow some toxins in some ways to enter into the body causing challenges like rheumatoid arthritis, causing challenges, like, all sorts of things.
And, a path to healing some of those conditions is healing the gut. At the same time, if you’re healing your gut, you’re actually healing your brain. So let’s talk about what permeability is, what happens to the gut that makes it permeable. How that also interferes with those signals. And let’s give people a bit of an understanding of why it’s important to take nutrition seriously. And to stop eating certain foods after stroke or after some kind of a neurological condition.
Yeah, so that’s great. That’s what I feel like a lot of people have heard the term leaky gut. So I love and hate those words. Love the fact that it’s becoming common knowledge, hate the fact that sometimes we have an association to it that may be incorrect.
So what I want people to understand is that if you look at my fingers right now, and you think of them as the internal lining of your gut, this is the protective barrier that you have in between your absorption of good nutrients and the toxins that can then flow out.
Well, we have these tight junctions that are regulated by, you know, different channels and tight junctions literally in between every single cell that forms the gut lining, and things like and I’m not anti medication, just let you know, but things like consistent and overuse of antibiotics, potential birth control, that processed foods, high fructose corn syrup, all of these undigestible types of materials, even products we use in our skin.
Yeah, that can all really affect our gut lining. And especially after a brain injury, which the bi-directional feedback through the vagus nerve may not be going as well, that influences our gut microbiome. Now, what really harming it so now we’re seeing how lifestyle factors and brain injury factors can cause just a perfect storm into these tight junctions to start opening.
And these zonulin channels are no longer very good. And that’s why it’s called leaky gut because things can leak through. And what happens is, as things leak through that they’re not supposed to, the most common ones talked about are gluten and casein, for dairy and wheat, which is why it’s usually recommended to avoid and may not be a forever thing for everyone.
But some people depending on your antibody response, like TPO antibodies or surveiller antibodies, you may need to that makes an immune response. And then you start seeing things like abdominal distension, then you start seeing things like constipation, diarrhea, now it no longer becomes just a secular brain, you know RA, eye issue, brain issue, now all of a sudden, we have a connection and with everything, lo and behold, everything works together.
The whole system gets impacted and thrown out of position. And, and if anyone has ever had a gut issue, and let’s just say it’s a diarrhea incident, you can’t think straight or you’re thinking about during that incident is to make sure that you’re somewhere where you can extract that stuff out of your body.
And hopefully that is a toilet somewhere where, you know, it’s safe to do so and private, right. But if you’re out in public, and you’ve got that going on, and you know, you need to find the toilet and you can’t get that think about how hard it is to actually operate your brain in any capacity in any other way other than to find some way to extract that stuff from the body without you know, having to stop somewhere inappropriate to do that.
When the gut is involved in dealing with an issue bloating or constipation or something like that, it impacts the way the brain works. It impacts what you can do. It impacts how you think it impacts your booth, it impacts everything. And it’s a real great way to counteract mood dysfunction to counteract energy levels to support all the things that we need to get better after a neurological event.
And people miss it. They miss it because of that conversation that we had earlier where head is separated etc. And they don’t understand deeply that it’s connected with the head and the heart through the vagus nerve. And they don’t understand any of those connections, and they don’t understand how the gut helps to support the immune system.
And it also helps to create neurotransmitters, the ones that we need in our head to feel good, you know, like dopamine and serotonin. So can we discuss a little bit about some of the things that the gut does that people have been associated with good health and good mood and good neurological function? What are some of its core tasks that it does other than take food processor, get the nutrients out and then expel the waste?
Yeah, so that’s, that’s great. I mean, one of the things But I really already touched on that, for me is the most important one is the aid in being able to create neurotransmitters. That’s honestly neurotransmitters is a fancy word for saying hormones. They’re just a different area of the body so we have named them something else.
But being able to have that ability of being satiated, of being happy of maintaining energy levels, when it comes to mitochondrial health, I think is the number one thing that we can talk about our guts specifically about your mitochondria are really the building blocks of everything that we do.
And I don’t think people understand how important constipation diarrhea specifically are as a sign of mitochondrial health, that comes directly from gut health in itself. So might, what people need to understand is that in order for your nerve cells to actually function properly, they need to have specific things, one of them being glucose, which comes from an absorption of nutrients.
So I think that and I was talking to someone about this the other day, too, there has just been such a mess marketing model out there in the world, that for a specific point in given time, I didn’t even realize, and I, you know, have done this, I used to drink a cherry coke a day.
And I used to not really understand how that really affected me because it just was a normal thing. I never thought about what I was doing to my gut. Now that I understand the difference into it, I can actually feed it things to give me proper mitochondrial function, which is the number one thing other than a neuro transmitters.
But I think people need to understand how important it is to feed yourself healthy. Because if you don’t have good mitochondrial function that immediately goes into brain fog immediately goes into fatigue, immune susceptibility, autoimmune disorders, and so on really.
Yeah. You drink Cherry Coke, used to drink a Cherry Coke a day, one can of coke a day. And two, and three and four and one liter and whatever, you know, it didn’t ever stop, it was just the go to it was always the thing that we got. And I haven’t had one for I don’t know how many years but if I drink a little bit, every once in a while, and I’m talking about a little bit, I feel it entering my body.
Like I feel it entering my blood, my veins, I can actually feel it coming through. Which is something that I find really strange and bizarre, because I never noticed that before. But now I noticed it if I have a high fructose drink or sugary meal or something like that, I immediately notice it and I can feel it going into my brain. It’s such a strange thing to notice.
That’s my favorite part about this stuff, though. It’s, you don’t know until you know, you really don’t. And your brain will not understand what life is like without it. Because I hear that often too, with people that leave gluten for a long time that do have gluten sensitivity or non celiac gluten sensitivity.
They say well, now I eat gluten. And that’s a big issue that I have noticed to push back on. Well, now I gluten and now I would get symptoms I didn’t used to get before. No, no, you were chronically chronically inflamed before. And now your brain knows what that side of health is of less inflammation. So now you notice the difference between it.
That’s such a profound statement that you just made. If I took a piece of sticky tape and stuck it on your forehead, and it was there for 20 years, it would just become part of your forehead, you wouldn’t know the difference. It was always there. And you would look at it and go yeah, it’s always been there. I mean, if you haven’t noticed it, or it doesn’t bother me, it doesn’t get in the way.
And then one day you take it off, and that part of your skin is a different color to the other part of your skin because it’s never seen the sun. And then you notice it. And that’s basically what it’s like. And it’s like, well, there’s a bit of skin under that piece of tape. What is that doing there? It’s always been there and I’ve never noticed that before?
That’s the kind of analogy that I use to explain that. It just takes a moment to remove something. And then you start to see what’s really going on underneath what is really happening. And with food sensitivities is exactly what you said. I had food sensitivities my entire life. I just didn’t know that there were food sensitivities because my mum described that differently.
She called me sensitive. She said my stomach is a little bit off that type of thing. She always downplayed it because they that my parents never wanted to conclude that their food, which was all healthy, my mum never ate out and she never made us let us eat out and any of us suppose she wanted to conclude that her food was healthy food.
And it was quote unquote, healthy. But some of those foods didn’t agree with me and one of them was gluten. 100% didn’t agree with me and wheat used to bloat me. And then on top of that, I used to drink sugary, high fructose corn syrup drinks. And I was just throwing so much stuff in there that were causing that were running amuck and causing problems that I couldn’t pinpoint which one it was because I never really paid attention to the order in which a symptom occurred.
I didn’t realize that our I had a really soft, fluffy white piece of bread. And then I had a coke. And then something happened. I always blamed it to the thing I had before that, because I never saw bread as problematic when it was looked at and thought this thing could be impacting my health.
How do you conclude that every time I’ve ever heard somebody speak about bread, though I spoken about it in an ad, which was about how amazing it was, it was as soft as anything. And, you know, you could have eaten a sandwich or you could toasted or you could do this with it, and how can this thing be terrible for me?
But in fact, it was and removing them from my diet, not only decrease the inflammation and help me lose weight, it also led me to switch my brain on my brain so I call it like it probably switched on. And it was one of the key things that I think progressed my recovery.
Now, when I say progress, my recovery, it didn’t make some of my deficits go away. But it made the rest of my brain operate to be able to overcome those deficits, where the deficits are still there. They’re noticeable. But they are not at the front of my mind as being oh my Lord. I have a deficit, I have a deficit. Thank you. I see you’re clapping. Tell me why you’re clapping with those statements?
Because this is exactly why I started the online business that I’m doing. Because people and I don’t mean this to dog on people at all. If anything, I think people are the victims in this situation. I think large corporations tend to include different advertisements that also provide misinformation.
That brainwash Pun intended people literally into thinking that health and lifestyle are secular. And that’s, not true. And for you to say, hey, it didn’t tear me. But it gave me the ability, something that’s in my control, to do. And that’s an empowering, that is so empowering, to know that you were able to do something for yourself to be able to overcome certain aspects of your life.
Well, that’s what I was saying in the beginning of the podcast too is that some people don’t realize that after they leave a clinic or a treatment, or a rehab facility or a hospital, what they do at home, can really severely undo or worsen some other factors, or it can really give them that boost that you just perfectly explained right there.
They don’t realize that they’re going to undo the good and go back to the harm that they were creating for the body themselves in the past, but now, it’s actually more serious harm that you’re creating, because you’re intervening in the recovery of your brain health in a negative way.
And you have to be responsible for the part that you play, and that’s the only way you take control back of your life. And it’s not only what you consume food wise, it’s also what you consume. on social media. It’s what you consume, on the television on the news.
Because if you’re consuming things that make you stressed, and stress you out, that is also impacting your body in a negative way, and it’s impacting your brain in a negative way. And it’s impacting your gut in a negative way. We know that stress impacts the gut, if you’re having a very stressful moment, I can ask you to describe how you feeling in the gut and you’ll say it’s tight, it’s full of knots, all sorts of things.
So we have to become involved. After brain surgery. We already physically evolved because of this thing that happened in our head. But then we’re also going to become spiritually emotionally and more knowledgeable. We have to shift all at the same time but not together.
But one thing at a time. The thing that you’re Become aware of right now, the thing that triggered you in this podcast episode might be the one thing that you just start off, do that focus on that, learn about that, understand how that’s impacting you, and then take the next thing that comes up in your journey.
And then focus on that. And slowly, slowly, you add all those little bits of pieces of the puzzle together. And now instead of creating an environment that can cause harm, you’re creating an environment that can cause wellness.
And that’s what I did, I was responsible for part of my issue with my head, which was a bleed from an arteriovenous malformation, I was responsible for part of that, because my lifestyle didn’t support keeping that faulty blood vessel as healthy as possible for as long as possible.
My lifestyle included smoking and drinking, and included a lot of stress and consuming foods that were not appropriate for good health. So shifting that and doing the opposite of those things meant that now I was actually contributing to good health. And I was supporting my brain from healing.
And I was supporting my blood vessels, so that they’re all strong and healthy for as long as I possibly can. Because I didn’t want to be responsible again, in the future, or play a part in another bleed or another health condition, I got away with this one, a beauty. As far as I’m concerned, I could have been dead, but I’m not. So I’m not going to be the one who contributes to my disease, or my ill health on my death in the future. That’s the way I see it.
I just I love that, that is 100%, exactly how I feel about it to you just you have a part to play in it. And why not? If it’s under your control who you going to trust with your help yourself. So that’s really good.
And it’s under your control. Because you can do it from home, it doesn’t cost anything, all you have to do is transform the type of food that you eat and understand that what you’re doing is nourishing your body. It’s like a car, we put terrible fuel in our car, it’s not going to get the result that we want, it’s going to stop working, and it’s not going it’s going to blow smoke, and it’s not going to sound right.
So we have to operate that car with the fuel that was intended to go into that car. So that operates optimally. And then through the year, we have to replace things we have to replace the things that were out. But most importantly we have to change the oil. If we don’t do that, it won’t run optimally.
So we spend in Australia, anywhere between, you know, 20 and $150,000, or $200,000 on a car. And no one I know has spent $200,000 on their health. You know, and they have a great looking car, and they get it washed every week and they get it polished and they clean the tires and the wheels, and if it gets damaged, they get it repaired and all sorts of things.
And I don’t know anyone that spent $200,000 on their health, except the people that are sick. And now have got no other option but to spend money that they would rather have put into a car. And I’m one of those people because just being at home for the seven or eight years before I was able to fully get back into work.
If I’m being conservative, if I’m being conservative, it cost me half a million dollars. Just being at home. And that’s not what it would have cost if I was in a medical system like you guys have in America, which meant that the insurance runs out a certain point in time. And then I’m stuck with a massive bill. I’m lucky in that part. So I can’t believe how expensive it is to actually have a neurological issue.
It is, it’s so expensive to to get to that part. Which is why I love when people like you were talking about the things that you can do at home because I mean you sunlight, if there’s some like outside that UV rays, those are good for you those, you know what you decide to put in your mouth, like how much water you’re drinking.
And I know it can be super overwhelming because they’re I love talking about the Simplicity’s and the complexity. I said what are you doing what Simplicity’s and the complexities of brain injury because very simple things lead to help in very complex situation, which is where some of that miss connect and some of that urgency doesn’t really come through to sometimes.
I feel like that people look at it and they’re very overwhelmed, there’s environmental toxins, and mold, and you know, the physical side of the brain injury and the micro organisms and the food and the toxins in it. There’s just so much But if you really take a step back and look at it, you can do simple changes that make big effects. Now, where I see that some people can be successful with it depends on their level of urgency that they feel to enact on those simple things.
Yep, I feel that some people feel also powerless to actually change because they don’t know where to start. So knowing where to start for them, is the most important thing. And like you said, the start place could be I’m going to the sun in the morning, and I’m sitting there for 10 or 15 minutes every day.
That’s it, not long enough to get cooked by the sun, but just long enough to feel the warmth, and to take in those ultraviolet rays through your eyes, because they’re going to support your sleep. For one, they’re going to support your vitamin D levels, which is a hormone for two.
So if you just know that going into the sun helps you sleep, and then also helps your vitamin D levels. That’s it, that’s an intervention, you’re really doing more than most people. So congratulations. That’s all you need to do. It takes you however long it takes you to get outside, and then 15 minutes in the sun on a daily basis and you’re done.
We, also spoke about auto immune responses because of leaky gut. But there’s also such a thing as leaky brain. And let’s talk a little bit about leaky brain. And, and then also see if we can explain how it’s linked to leaky gut and what the two things are and how to resolve both of those things.
So I know that resolving leaky gut starts with the nutrition, taking out those inflammatory foods, taking out things that are not digestible, like gluten, decreasing the amount of sugar for me was also decreasing caffeine, it was also taking out alcohol. And it was also decreasing dairy or taking out dairy.
And when I say taking out we can swap a lot of those foods, so that people don’t feel like they’re missing out on for example, a coffee with their friends, if they used to drinking full fat, cow’s milk in their coffee, they might have an almond, decaf coffee.
What Is Leaky Brain?
So that they can go through that process of having a coffee with their friend and in Melbourne, Australia. That is very, very important part of our culture, having coffee, and being with our friends. So you can swap things out. But how do we get to the point of healing the brain from leaky brain? And Firstly, what is leaky brain?
Well, that’s actually very interesting that you say that, because I think there are two different kinds of leaky brain going around the world right now. So leaky brain can be an a.k.a also for cerebral spinal fluid leaking out of the brain as well. So not to confuse that with what I think you’re saying leaky brain being more of a blood brain barrier issue.
Thank you very much exactly what I was talking about. Yeah, the blood brain barrier being penetrated.
Yes. so the issue with the blood brain barrier is that we’re starting to see and a lot of people are starting to realize that just how the gut can have permeability, the brain can also have permeability, and there was an old school of thought, to think that nothing could actually penetrate that fortress.
That’s actually not true. So the same thing that happens with the gut when we’re talking about inflammation, and these inflammatory mediators and this inflammatory cascade and response, the same thing happens with the brain. And so we have these epithelial cells that are part that are connecting different neurons or nerve cells to different vasculature.
And they can actually become permeable as well, leaving things to cross the blood brain barrier, whereas they usually normally don’t. And what I need people to understand is that it’s not only a physical response that can promote this blood brain barrier linking, it can also also be a chemical response, that you’re altering and inducing in your in your body.
So there is a lot of talk and research about things like this, and we can go crazy, thinking about what leaks my brain? what doesn’t leak my brain? But if we’re gonna take a step back and really go into it and try to do the best thing for our brain is this. There’s only two real principles when it comes to food.
It’s either inflammatory, or anti-inflammatory. Really, that’s it. So if you’re trying to help yourself, through the gut to help your brain, that’s a good way to do it. And also, if you’re trying to help yourself through the brain down to your gut, we need to ask how well are you breathing? What’s your oxygen intake? Are you exposed yourself to mycotoxins.
Those are things that I can actually cross the blood brain barrier. You know, even certain things like different foods there are berries are actually known to cross the blood brain barrier without it being permeable or destructive, and can actually decrease oxidative stress in our brains.
So that’s what I was saying more on, like the simplicity vs. the complexity, because these sound like really big words and really complex mechanisms. But we are designed really, to have everything influence us. And so what activities are you choosing to do is watching TV, like you said, going to be inflammatory or anti inflammatory?
Or food inflammatory or anti inflammatory? Our aerobic capacity if you’re going to exercise? Is that exercise why are you doing the exercise? Are you doing it to check it off the list and say, I moved today? Or are you doing it with an intention behind it? And so intentionality comes a lot with with brain health.
Is a 40k. marathon supportive of your health or not supportive of your health? Yes, it’s a great thing to tick off and say that you did. And it’s a great personal achievement accomplishment. But at some point, perhaps it’s, you’re doing too many marathons per year, and it’s impacting your body in a negative way, whether it’s your joints, or whether it’s your muscles, I’m not sure what your tendons it potentially could be a negative thing.
Also, you spoke briefly about breathing is part of the breathing that you’re doing, including breathing in chemicals via a cigarette, is that an optimal way to support the brain? It’s definitely not. And we know that about cigarettes now. And also alcohol, I know that alcohol can interfere with the gut, the balance in the gut, because alcohol, just by its nature, it kills bacteria.
So if you put a lot of alcohol in your gut, you’re impacting the bacteria that’s in your gut, and you’re throwing the balance off, and then the gut balance, if it’s getting impacted by dairy at the same time, and if it’s getting impacted by gluten at the same time, well, it’s going to bounce back from three different types of things on a regular basis that are happening to it to put the balance out to throw the balance out.
So I love what you said that there’s two types of food, there’s either inflammatory food, or there’s anti inflammatory food. And there’s another little thing that people can do is they can do a little bit of research on a computer, and find out whether the food they’re eating is inflammatory, or anti-inflammatory.
And if it’s inflammatory, or has the tendency to create an inflammatory response, there could be something that you swap out for something that is not inflammatory. I previously interviewed a nutritionist and a performance coach, a husband and wife team.
And I called the interviews the fun five series. And in those interviews, we took out the fun five, and unfortunately, they are fun foods, but we had to take them out. And they are dairy, gluten, alcohol, caffeine, and sugar. And like you said at the beginning, because I really want to bring this back to the beginning part of the conversation was some of those things may be better if you took them out permanently.
Like no alcohol, in my opinion, okay, it’s just my opinion. So don’t want anyone to get annoyed about that. But some of them might be temporary, especially when you restore the balance, and you give your gut heaps of time to recover. And therefore you’re giving your brain heaps time to recover. I didn’t drink alcohol for at least I’m pretty sure was about two years minimum after my stroke.
And then I had another episode and what I’m talking about drink again, I only maybe drank a bottle of beer a year or something, you know, like I wasn’t really back at drinking, but I had a drink of alcohol. And then I had over three years I had all my bleeds and surgeries.
So I always reset every time something else happened, it always reset. So for a good five years, maybe I had a couple of bottles of beer in the whole amount of time. And I really noticed how it made me feel when I drank it. It made me feel like I was having a stroke.
So I started to associate this terrible feeling with it rather than it being good. And everyone else is enjoying it at the table. I’m drinking it and doing it just for them. And I’m not enjoying it and I’m feeling drunk after half a beer. And now I’m the joke of the table and I’m playing to say Hey guys, I’m already drunk, I’m on one drink one day, and I can’t do this anymore.
And I have to stop. And you know, they have a little bit of a giggle at me. But it’s the excuse that I play on so that I don’t have to drink anymore when I’m with my friends. Now, they know it’s linked to my brain, so that they’re not terrible friends, I try not to hang out with people who are going to give me a hard time for not drinking alcohol.
They know that it’s linked to my issue, my neurological challenges. So they kind of give me a break now. But it was a bit of retraining on their part, and also retraining on my part, so that I could actually make the decision to stop doing that. And then I knew that I had to have a conversation with them about the importance of me stopping and doing that, bring them on board with me.
So that they wouldn’t offer me drinks and then feel bad that I would say no to them. Because I don’t know why people get offended when you say no, I’m not drinking, I don’t get the whole concept. But some people take it as a what you’re not, I’m offering you a drink, you’re not going to take my drink, come on, let’s drink. I don’t get that.
Some people don’t understand boundaries. And I think that after a brain injury, that’s the one number one thing you really need to be getting really good at is establishing boundaries in our relationships, to not to harm it, but really to just show them hey, this is where I’m at.
You can come meet me where I am. And we can both be comfortable with everything. But yeah, people do get very upset when you don’t drink because I’m like that, too. I don’t really drink. I really don’t. It just in my personal opinion, it’s a lot of sugar.
It’s a lot. It’s number one is a lot of sugar on dehydrated, after I drink it, it affects my cerebellum, I have issues with my balance already as it is, which then in turn can affect your autonomic nervous system. My heart rate goes like crazy and I have an aura ring that every time you take maybe a glass of something I’m recovering for the next week. So to me the risk does not outweigh the benefit.
Absolutely not we don’t realize the impact that it has. And of course we don’t because it’s like that sticky type. We used to do it so often that we didn’t associate the way that felt with a negative connotation. We just it was normal. That’s what happens when you drink. It makes you feel like that. And it was like, wow, okay, that doesn’t. We never, never jumped from that’s how it makes me feel to oh my God, that’s how it’s making me feel.
Unhealthy Consumption And It’s Effects on Brain Health
I’m feeling different than I feel when I’m not drinking. And that never happened for me, I never had that conversation in my head. It’s interesting, the conversations I have in my head now that are Wow, really noticing that that is really impacting me. And I don’t want to feel that way anymore. I feel like a matter of control. And I put this thing in my mouth. And that’s making me feel out of control. So take control back for me was simple. Don’t put that thing in my mouth. Alcohol crosses the blood brain barrier very rapidly and easily, doesn’t it?
Correct? Yeah. It does cross the blood brain barrier. And the effects that I think it has on some people are just not great for kinji cells on the cerebellum, for example, are not easily reconstructed, on like other nerve cells. And so if you specifically have an injury to the cerebellum, I highly recommend people to not do certain activities that will harm their cerebellum, like alcohol consumption, for example.
But it does and it just decreases. You know, in tying it back to what we were talking about with the leaky brain and leaky gut. Alcohol specifically, not only does it also harm your microbiome, but it also can dehydrate you. So if you don’t already drink enough water per day, now you’re constipated.
Now you have bad your body, your brain and your body are starving for water because our brain is what I think the statistic is around 80% average, made out of water. you’re starving yourself out of water, you’re drinking sugar or you’re screwing up your microbiome and you’re decreasing oxygenation to your breath.
Yep, I hear. I’m remembering now somebody that I heard in the past. The new nutritional advice was, you know, I think it was in a drink eight glasses of water a day. And it’s okay if some of those eight glasses are coffee or tea because they are liquid. And they are therefore part of that eight glasses. I made you laugh alot. Why did you have so much?
Because I just remember hearing that myself as well. And, you know, we know that coffee caffeine can dehydrate, as well. So it’s just funny that that was, you know, one things that we all talked about about you drink coffee like for hydration.
It sounded like a good idea at the time.
Yeah, I mean, I’m a coffee lover, I’m from Puerto Rico. So it’s a big cultural thing yes.
It sure is. And the thing about coffee, it was probably a coffee company that gave us that information and released that, drink eight glasses of water a day and make sure one of them’s a cup of coffee or a cup of tea. I’m pretty sure that’s how we were educated it was the corporation’s educating us on how amazing their cigarette was, or how, how amazing their inflammatory breakfast cereal was, and all that kind of stuff.
It’s hilarious that we take that information in the cheapest, most inefficient way for the most efficient way for us is we sit in front of a TV, we’ll let them program us. And then we resist, resist, resist the change the shift from what we were taught all these years from these advertising campaigns, we resist it, some people to the extent with to the extent where it ends up killing them, and food can kill us, as well as nourish us and keep us healthy.
We’ve seen what cigarettes can do. And I used to smoke. So I’m talking as an ex smoker. But my friend, one of my friends who was dead against that, but probably, you know, was the only one who had the guts to say so every time he saw me put a cigarette on my mouth to say that things are going to kill you one day.
And I was like, yeah I’ll worry about it then, he was saying that when I was in my 20s. And at 37, only 17 years later, that thing almost nearly contributed to killing me. And I didn’t realize it was going to come around so quickly. And I probably regret not listening to my wise 20 year old mate at the time, he never put one in his mouth and never considered putting one in his mouth.
But the cigarette ads that I saw the cool people smoke, let’s say we’re all hanging out a beaches or throwing a beach ball around, or they were with the sexy chicks. And it was like, this is the thing for me, this is what’s missing in my life to enhance my life to that level to make me feel sad, amazing. I was so stupid. But that’s alright, I forgive myself for that.
And I’m learning now in my 40s hopefully I’m going to become a little wiser. When I’ll be able to be around for longer, then, you know, 40 odd years, I have lost a couple of friends at the in their 40s. And at least three people that I know in their 40s. And all three of them was smokers.
And they had heart attacks. It’s a bit ridiculous that they’re not around simply because they picked up something and put it in their mouth. And I’m talking about cigarette because everyone understands that and nobody’s gonna say to me yet but cigarettes up as shown on some studies to improve health.
That’s kind of, we need to get to that point with those foods that are inflammatory where people know that know that. I am consuming that I do know it’s inflammatory. I’m doing it from my own free will rather than being programmed and trained by a corporation to consume something I shouldn’t be consuming.
So if I can encourage people to do anything is get curious about what is inflammatory. When we consume it and what isn’t inflammatory when we consume it. It that noninflammatory stuff. And just by doing that, and knowing nothing else, and not going into any time or effort to understand the complexity of what you and I just discussed.
Just do that. And you’ll be impacting your brain health, your gut health, your heart health, your mood, in a positive way, your sleep in a positive way. All these things. It seems so simple and counterintuitive. Why can’t we just be able to do it Doctor Eisnmann?
Why we can’t do that. I really think it’s because of cultural beliefs. It’s about what we’re exposed to. As something that I really want to talk a little bit about is you said earlier something about you know the things we’re exposing ourselves to, when I go into deep thought I look to the bottom left.
And what I need people to start visualizing in their brain is that every single time we expose ourselves visually auditory with any kind of sense, that creates a synaptic response in our brain that does create a synaptic response and that is neuroplasticity.
Aeuroplasticity doesn’t care whether what your synaptic response is a good or a bad response. It just knows, hey, Michelle is exposing herself to this frequently with this amount of intensity, it means we need to create a neural pathway for it.
And so that’s where I think that a lot of the issues come from is culturally, we’ve created, maybe passed down generationally on how we eat, how we do things, which creates a neural pathway response. And then what we’re exposing ourselves to, because like you said, I saw these commercials.
And these were the cool guys, these were the guys that were doing had the chicks and all that stuff. That’s what was missing from my life. That then happened to you because of one exposure that happened to us from exposure to exposure to exposure to exposure, which is then why your brain has been recognizing, yes, in order for an association, happy faces missing link need to do this desire, dopamine reward, then you start doing the activity, reward, reward reward.
But what people need to do also is take heart, that healthy foods can be really good to, you know, yeah, surround yourself with people that are wanting to create change in their lives. As opposed to if you are a person who is trying to combat brain injury, and you are not currently surrounded by a community or guidance right now, to help you with that you are setting yourself up for failure.
Because everything is currently designed. Right now we’re not, I’m hopeful that that will change in the future. But it is currently not designed for brain health. And so what you’re exposing yourself, your brain will literally believe whatever you tell it or whatever it sees. So that’s why it’s so important to really be mindful as to choose as to what we expose ourselves to, because it will create a synaptic response.
It’s so powerful that it can override the feedback from my lungs when I was inhaling the cigarette, the feedback from my lungs when I was coughing when I was feeling lightheaded or terrible in the morning and had to clear mucus and all that kind of stuff out of my chest and my throat and all that type of thing. It was that strong that it over wrote that response.
Yeah, I know you’re coughing up a lung, but think about the chicks that you’re going to have. I know you’re coughing up a lung, but think about how good you’re going to look at the beach when you’re running around, throwing a beach ball around the place. It was such a weird thing that for more than 20 years I smoked.
By the time I got to the age of 37, I had smoked for more than half my life. And it was it was never once considered to be something that I needed to stop at all. It never once entered my mind. And we used to talk about it from time to time and i would say i in it. I’m not ready to stop yet. I’ll stop later on down the track. Anyway, I did stop later on down the track.
And I stopped for a very dramatic reason, and I never thought it would be that dramatic. The reason I stopped I thought I was just going to stop when I felt like when I had enough. But I wasn’t even being an avid fan myself at that point where I’d had enough. I love what you said about neurological pathways, and neuroplasticity because it’s so true. It’s whatever we focus on, we get.
So if we have behavioral patterns that keep us in a bad mood, if we have behavioral patterns that don’t support recovery, we’re implanting behavioral patterns that are going to make recovery in a better mood, harder and harder to achieve. And with somebody sometimes people hear about positive response to neuroplasticity, but there’s also negative neuroplasticity.
That’s how I describe it to people. And just be aware whether the plasticity that you’re creating is a positive version or a negative version. Similar foods are the foods inflammatory or non inflammatory. Now, not to say that you’re not going to, from time to time, create a negative neurological response by doing something two or three times but having awareness that I’m doing that, and that’s not a good outcome.
I don’t want to be doing that going into the future. Let me stop that now early on, so that it’s easy to stop and let me shift that behavior. So it’s easy now that I don’t have to worry about undoing that behavior later. So, this has been a fascinating conversation, it’s really lovely to get somebody on the podcast who deeply understand these topics and can speak to them.
I know we only touched the surface because these are not one hour topics. These are very deep dive type of discussions. But we’ve broken it down very simply so that at the end, we said, if you just go outside and get some sun, that’s going to get you a good response in your sleep, and your vitamin D levels, immediately 10 15 minutes in the sun. And then we also said, if you just learn which foods are inflammatory, and which are anti inflammatory to do that, you’re going to impact positively the whole system. Isn’t that amazing?
Yeah, it can be just as simple as that. And then from there from some of these people, that feel okay, well, I do that already know, I already eat all the anti inflammatory foods, well, then that is just a stair step into working with someone to try to figure out a root cause for something. So for those people that may feel discouraged about that, because they feel like they’re already there. Just know that that is just the starting point. That’s not the end point.
That’s it. And you’re doing good work already, you’re supporting the person who’s going to help you take it to the next level. So on that note, where could people find out a little bit more about you or get in touch with you from?
Yes, so honestly, right now, the best way to reach me is through my Instagram page. We talked a little bit about it. It’s The Brainfluencer. There’s a reason and a rhyme for that name. And I guess people are just going to have to go to my page to figure it out. But yeah, that’s the best way to reach me right now.
I really use Instagram as a tool and a medium of communication with people. And until then, I’m working on a website, and I’m working on some other things to be a little bit more accessible. But as of right now, that has turned out to be one of the best tools I’ve ever had.
The Great Influencers On Brain Health
Yeah, your influence your, your, your real call doctor is when you’re going to be influenced in the brain space. I mean, cuz the Kardashians have already got influencing people on that other stuff already done. So there’s no point doing that anymore. Your your Instagrams, really very cool, I’ll have the link so people can find that easier.
If they go to this episode on recoveryafterstroke.com. They’ll be able to get to your links, but you post some real simple things. You know, you’ve got a photo of the brain that changes itself by Norman Doidge.
Yeah. Have you met Norman? You have well, I need you to help me meet him as well, hopefully online, but we’ll talk about that later. And then we can also you’ve also got another book out there, how to feed a brain. So one of my favorite authors, Dr. Datis Kharrazian , my absolute one of my most favorite authors, because he knows the link about thyroid disorders and brain health, brain fog, and I had a thyroid disorder, which was impacting my brain health and my brain fog after brain surgery.
And I thought that the fatigue was as a result of the brain surgery. And it had been 18 months or so. And we discovered that through his work, I discovered that in fact, the condition was a thyroid condition. And I went and got that resolved. And I decreased my level of fatigue.
So I was being impacted by fatigue by these two pathways, that brain injury and my thyroid at the same time. And the thyroid issue only became apparent after the brain issue. And Datis Kharrazian is an absolute genius in the way he describes things to simplify it down for people like me, who at the beginning of the journey, you don’t know the words and you don’t know how to absorb this information.
And I also see Dr. David Perlmutter’s name on that book, as well. Wow and Dr. David Perlmutter, was one of the first books I read, which was, I think he wrote Eat Fat Get Thin. Or was that Mark Hyman? Dr. David Perlmutter wrote Grain Brain.
Grain Brain yeah, that’s the one he wrote.
Yeah. And, Dr. Mark Hyman wrote Eat Fat Get Thin. So just by going to your Insta page, people actually going to be able to see things there that are really helpful and beneficial tools that they can buy, have delivered to their home and if they’re reading kind they can read them if they have neurological problem.
They’ll find those books. So if they have reading issues, they’ll find those books on audio as well. I’m pretty sure they’ll be able to get them on Audible or something like that. And it’s a really great Instagram, it was what made me reach out to you because very few people post about the link between gut and brain.
And I think that’s the next place to take the conversation. It really needs to go there. I can’t stress how important it is. And on that note, I’m going to stop talking about it because we’ll be here forever. thank thank you so much for being on the podcast. I really appreciate you sharing your your knowledge with us.
Yeah, I appreciate you here too. And honestly, I love talking to you. So that was really fun for me too.
Thanks so much for joining me on today’s recovery after stroke podcast. Do you ever wish there was just one place you could go to for resources, advice and support in your stroke recovery?
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