How a Happy Gut Lends Itself to a Happy Brain

If you’ve ever received a CRP (C-reactive protein) test, you’re probably aware of the correlation between systemic inflammation and dozens of diseases and illnesses. If your CRP reads high, it means inflammation levels are high where the body is in a reactive state all the time. As a result, cooling this constant internal flame has become a significant focus on preventative medicine. 

Inflammation is your body’s response to try to find something: your body trying to heal itself. It signals healing agents to go to the injured part of the body. With systemic inflammation, your body is on fire and can’t heal and repair itself correctly. It can stay localized as many of us struggle unknowingly from gut dysbiosis. Our lifestyle, environmental toxins, and diet can influence this state. Unfortunately, we often eat foods that create a fight response internally as our body treats the offending foods like an invasive threat. 

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On his weekly podcast, Lucas Rockwood interviewed Jimmy St. Louis, the Cognitive Health and Wellness Institute founder. CHI focuses on gut health to reduce inflammation to lower the likelihood, and symptoms of autoimmune and neurodegenerative diseases, heart conditions, chronic low-grade conditions like hypertension, cancer, and others. 

Jimmy played football for the NFL’s Tennessee Titans and was recently a member of the 2016 United States Rowing Team. However, through rowing, he inadvertently found his passion for cognitive health. Rowing anywhere from 60 to 80,000 meters a day for four to six hours, he noticed a different mental strain than football. 

After a career without significant brain injuries, he discovered the link between cellular repair and the brain’s ability to get oxygen. Then, feeling helpless when his grandmother passed away from Alzheimer’s, he was inspired to understand the gut biome and the connection between inflammation and neurodegenerative illnesses.

Your gut bacteria form a soil-like environment for digestion


St Louis urges us to think about our gut bacteria like a garden. When we look at the human genome, the human microbiome contains three pounds of bugs living inside your body. However, we are also aware that microbiota are different for different people. For example, a person from the Mediterranean and someone of the same age from Osaka would have similar DNA, but the internal garden would be different because of their environment.

People are often tempted to buy a supplement from a health food store, but in thinking of the gut as a garden, you can’t just throw some nitrogen on it and expect to have fertile soil. St. Louis wants to dispel the myth that Alzheimer’s is strictly genetic, and if you are genetically prone, you’re going to get it. Instead, he suggests that these diseases build up over time by not caring for our bodies and everything we put into our mouths. 

Why modern foods and lifestyles leave many of us imbalanced


Most people don’t realize they’re not eating healthy. If it’s organic, it’s healthy, but that’s not necessarily the case. If people believe they’re eating healthy, they’re not armed with that knowledge to help to improve their overall health. That superfood may very well not be beneficial for you. You can eat the kale and drink the juices, but if you’re not aware, your body will continue to fight against yourself and your habits.

Autism, early-onset dementia, or mild cognitive impairment have been linked to systemic inflammation. Over time when you put the wrong things in your body, you develop a bacterial imbalance in your stomach. At some point, that imbalance begins to permeate the gut lining and enter your system. Later on, the blood-brain barrier meant to protect your brain from the rest of your body can lead to protein plaque build-up and eventually to a stroke or Alzheimer’s.

It’s never too late to make necessary changes, but there is no quick fix

Regardless of age, you can slow that aging process. Still, preventative care is challenging for anyone at any age to think about, especially something as invisible as neurodegenerative disease or cognitive decline. We Americans tend to look for a quick fix, but if we want to live better, not just longer, we need to bridge that gap between the quality and length of life. We should want to feel great until that final day. No one wants to be stuck in a nursing home. 

Unfortunately, people start to decline very quickly when a diagnosis happens, and it just feels like it’s just only a matter of time. It’s often a triggering event like a personal health crisis in their fifties or sixties with either a heart attack or type two diabetes diagnosis that brings about awareness. Old habits do die hard, but you can start to create some new healthy habits that won’t take as long as you think. Even after two weeks of dietary changes, you might not crave things you did before. In fact, it might not make you feel good to even think about them anymore.


While many people default to whatever their GP recommends during a routine checkup, most only visit their GP every three or four years. People can opt to do a gut test to indicate what should and should not be eaten. Even poor habits building dysbiosis over time can all be reversed. 

Finding motivation

Some people have felt lousy their whole life. They didn’t feel good when they were in their twenties, and when they’re 42 or 62, there is the possibility of feeling better than when they were 22. St. Louis looks to empower people who have never looked after their body, diet, or fitness and are willing to witness a radical transformation often available for unfit middle-aged people. With health, it doesn’t take forever to start feeling better.

You might feel too far gone, say suffering from type two diabetes or carrying 50 extra pounds. However, one good meal or one good day can make all the difference. So put effort into your diet and embrace the opportunity of feeling better than ever by just choosing one of St. Louis’ programs. They are easily adaptable, the food selection is good, tailored to your gut requirements, and you’ll notice changes more quickly than you’d imagined. 

Do you still want to drink alcohol or go out to dinner? He doesn’t suggest cutting those things out as mental health also plays a role. The point is to create a sustainable path so you can pick a program and not have to give up all the pleasures in life. Columbia Health Institute was created to introduce dietary changes, reduce systemic inflammation, and improve cognitive health scores to help prevent the early onset of neurodegenerative illnesses. It’s never too late to change course. 

How to do intermittent fasting

Intermittent fasting is a phenomenon worldwide, and it has become one of the trends in health and fitness. This eating plan is a regular schedule that you can follow to implement your diet and manage your weight. 

With the promise of astonishing results on your health as you change the time you eat, CEOs and celebrities champion intermittent fasting for its health and weight loss benefits. Some studies demonstrate how this plan helps in repairing the body. But, how effective is it, and how do you do intermittent fasting, right?

In this blog, Cognitive Health and Wellness Institute discusses the different facets of intermittent fasting and how it could help you live a quality life. 

What is intermittent fasting?

intermittent fasting

A diet approach that has formed a significant number of followers, intermittent fasting, or IF focuses on the time you eat rather than what food you eat. 

IF is when you don’t eat for a period every day or week. The schedule depends upon the approach that you can commit to observing regularly. There are several ways to do it suitable to your preference and lifestyle. 

Mark Mattson, PhD, a neuroscientist at John Hopkins, studies intermittent fasting and believes that the body has evolved in its ability to go for several hours or even longer in a day without food. Before they learned how to farm in prehistoric times, humans were natural hunters who could last long without eating. They had no choice at that time. They had to exert energy and time to look for food; otherwise, they’d have to wait.

How does intermittent fasting work for the body? When you don’t eat for several hours a day, your body drains sugar stores that prompts you to burn sugar. Mattson calls this process metabolic switching. This phenomenon happens when fasting signals your system to change its energy source from glucose in the liver to ketones from fat cells. 

How to do intermittent fasting

Fasting has been a thing even in the past, without us knowing. Up to this day, it is an integral part of many religious practices, cultures, and traditions worldwide. 

You can do intermittent fasting in different ways. The method varies based on the fast days and the calorie allowance you need for your body. The idea is to abstain from eating for a set number of hours and only eat on your allotted window. 

Some studies claim that intermittent fasting may help in fat loss, better health, and longer life. Its proponents believe that this approach is more attainable than the traditional, calorie-deficit diets that are difficult to sustain in the long run.

Intermittent fasting schedule and method

These are the different ways to do intermittent fasting:

The 16/8


The 16/8 method is when you fast for 16 hours and only eat in the 8 hours window, called 16:8, or the Leangain diet.

This method may work for individuals who have begun with the 12-hour eating window but did not see any results. Females usually do the 14 hours, and men the 18. People in this fast typically begin their window at noon and end at 8 p.m. Of course, this isn’t the only way to do this. You can adjust it on your schedule. 

A study reveals how mice with a feeding window of 8 hours prevented inflammation, diabetes, liver disease, and obesity. They even ate on a calorie surplus and did not have a problem. 



The Eat-Stop-Eat diet is when you fast for one or two days a week, which means no food for 24 hours. While on this method, you can still drink tea, water or other calorie-free drinks that won’t break your fast. 

When you are not fasting, you can eat on a usual time pattern. The Eat-Stop-Eat IF only reduces your caloric intake, but it won’t limit you from eating any types of foods or even take into account your macros. 

Fasting for 24-hours may be challenging and extreme, especially for beginners. There are instances when you might experience irritability, headaches, or fatigue. When your body has adjusted, the side effects may eventually lessen. 

If you wish to transition to this eating pattern, you should’ve at least started with the 12 or 16-hour method so that you can adapt to fasting for an extended period already. 

The 5:2


The 5:2 pattern refers to the days when you eat and don’t.

This type of intermittent fasting is when you eat five days a week without thinking of your calorie intake and fast for two days by going on a deficit of a quarter of your requirement. It is 500 calories less for women, while 600 for men. 

If you’re having a hard time tightly committing to an eating pattern, you should consider the 5:2 approach as it is less extreme and will allow your body to cope with the schedule. Studies suggest that people are more likely to stick with this routine than stricter diets. 



The 12:12 method is when you restrict yourself from eating for 12 hours. This is known as the easiest approach for the fasting stage is short compared to the other IF methods. You’re also sleeping eight hours a day so you’ll only have to wait for four hours for your first meal if you choose this kind of schedule.

The idea is to stop yourself from eating just whenever you want and have a regular meal schedule that you’ll religiously observe. For example, if you had your last meal at 8 p.m, your breakfast the next day should be at 8 a.m. This is the simplest kind of IF, and it’s friendly for beginners who are just diving into fasting.

Warrior Diet


Ori Hofmekler, a health and fitness author, developed the Warrior Diet. This eating pattern extends the fasting, leading to a shorter feasting time. 

Hofmekler created the Warrior Diet in 2001 after observing his colleagues at the Israeli Special Forces. Afterwards, he explained how we could improve how we feel, eat, and perform when reducing our food intake and tapping our survival instincts. 

Anyone who follows this diet would undereat for 20 hours and feast on whatever they want at night. He encourages eating healthy, organic and unprocessed food, though. The author also devised the plan based on his own experience and not strictly on science. 

Meal Skip

When you are in a meal skip plan, you don’t have to stick to an IF pattern like the time you have to eat. As the name implies, you simply skip meals when you are not hungry. 

Spontaneous meal skipping may vary from person to person. Some people quickly hit starvation mode every few hours, while few can handle themselves without eating for an extended period. You should know your body well and what it can manage. 

With meal skip, the idea is simple. Only eat when you’re hungry, and skip breakfast, lunch, or dinner when you are not starving. It’s listening to your cues and differentiating the line between hunger and craving. This method is appropriate for people who are busy cooking their food. 

Is intermittent fasting for weight loss?

intermittent fasting

Research shows that calorie restriction, which happens in intermittent fasting, can increase lifespan. Moreover, it improves the human body’s tolerance to many metabolic stresses. Hence, intermittent fasting aids in enhancing your immune response and changes in your metabolism.

With all this said, the physiological effects are often seen in people who do intermittent fasting, typically losing between 7-11 pounds after close to 3 months. There are other studies, however, that indicates there is no direct correlation between weight loss and intermittent fasting. For example, some individuals suffering from obesity don’t find intermittent fasting effective compared to other diet approaches.

The critical thing about intermittent fasting is when you eat. Weight loss happens when you restrict yourself from meals for a certain period. During this strict time window, your calorie intake naturally decreases, contributing to weight loss.

Additionally, when you restrict eating only during this window, your insulin level drops. This hormone, insulin, is responsible for managing blood sugar in your body. When your insulin level drops, your body burns fat more, which aids in weight loss. 

There are many factors to consider here. Health risk factors may come about when you deprive yourself of particular food at specific amounts of time, for instance. Worse, unhealthy habits may arise, such as overeating when you are in your time window to eat.

Does intermittent fasting work?

A study in the United Kingdom reveals that eating plans such as IF is effective in losing weight, compared to the complicated diets that most people try yet fail. 

The focus of IF is changing your body composition with weight and fat loss. 

When you restrict your eating time, you limit your caloric intake, which causes you to lose weight. IF also increases norepinephrine levels to boost your metabolism. Doing so will pump up your body to burn more calories throughout the day. 

It is typical to see people losing their fat and lean mass in the middle of a weight-loss journey, including their muscles. However, some studies reveal that you are most likely to lose only one to two pounds of lean mass in IF. There are even times when you won’t at all. 

Research suggests how IF is in preserving lean body mass compared to other diets that have nothing to do with fasting. Thus, if you are lifting weights to build muscles, you shouldn’t worry because IF won’t be counterproductive to your exercise.

How safe is intermittent fasting?

The science behind IF is still new. A ton of research is conducted to back up its claims, including its health benefits, dangers, and long-term effects on the body. 

This eating plan is safe for the right people. Health professionals note that IF is not dangerous; however, it isn’t for everyone. It isn’t for anybody pregnant or breastfeeding, under 18, or with certain health conditions like diabetes. Experts don’t recommend it for individuals who have suffered from eating disorders, as fasting may harm their situation. 

Ask your doctor

Like any dietary plan, before getting into it, make sure you check with your doctor first. As mentioned above, fasting intermittently can significantly reduce insulin resistance and lower blood pressure. If you have other health risks, this isn’t something you should immediately jump into, especially without medical advice.

Is intermittent fasting for you?

intermittent fasting

Intermittent fasting is good for your gut because you’re helping your gastrointestinal tract repair itself during the fasting period. When this happens, your body uses your stored fat as fuel. Hence, you’re burning fat rather than just storing it in your body cells, which is good for metabolism. 

IF is good for you if you combine it with regular exercise, and you don’t overeat during your time window. Also, it would help if you had a good variety of foods to enjoy a healthy, balanced diet all the time. If you have a weight goal, you should plan how many calories you need to cut down each day.

However, it really shouldn’t be about counting calories. When you’re eating more fruits and vegetables, for example, you’re naturally getting lower calories. If you have diabetes, on the other hand, it might not be a good idea to fast unless you have the green light and supervision from your doctor.