How to enhance brain function

Content by: 180 Nutrition

180 Nutrition PodcastPodcast Episode #2

By Guy Lawrence


In this episode of The Health Sessions I get to hang out with Dr. Ranga J. Premaratna who has a Ph.D- Food & Nutritional Science with specialisation in Nutrition, Food Microbiology, Biotechnology.

We chat about the gut & brain relationship and simple steps you can take to enhance daily brain function.

Download or subscribe to us on iTunes here.

You can view all podcast episodes here.

  • Stu & I introduce the show and discuss…
  • our recent gut tests with Tania Flack
  • dysbiosis
  • EMF polution
  • Dr. Ranga J. Premaratna discusses… [10:12]
  • gut health relationship
  • where to start with gut health
  • glycation of the brain
  • mobile phones
  • and much more…..

Questions for the podcast?

If you would like a question or topic covered on the podcast, then we would love to hear from you. We can be reached below on:

Email | Facebook | Twitter | Voicemail

Podcast transcript with Dr Ranga

Guy Lawrence: I’m joined with Dr. Ranga. First of all, thanks for dropping by on the show, very honored to have you. I know that every time I see you I’m always constantly asking you a zillion questions. I’m picking your brains a lot. So what I want to do is just for everyone listening today is just tell them a little bit about yourself.

Dr. Ranga J. Premaratna: It’s always a pleasure to see you and answer any questions. My background is in food and nutritional science, and I have about twenty years of experience in the research field in food and nutritional research microbiology research, and about twenty-one years in clinical nutrition and Ayurvedic medicine in practice.

I see many clients with all kinds of chronic conditions, because, first of all, we live in a very toxic environment, so we are constantly exposed to environmental toxins. Stress gives us emotional toxins. We have two of them there. We are really in great trouble, so we need some solutions.

Guy Lawrence: Yeah, absolutely. We were chatting before I hit the record button. We’ve been covering the month of the gut, and I feel like I’m just constantly investigating things and trying to find out more, because the information is a little bit misguided out there sometimes. The one thing you highlighted right away was, because I said we’re now moving on to the month of the brain, we felt that was the next place to go to, and I’m still constantly learning and straight away you said that the brain and gut connection was a big one.

Dr. Ranga J. Premaratna: Yeah, brain and gut. They call the gut the second brain, because there is a neural network in the gut as well. It’s just like the brain. About 70 percent of the serotonin is produced in the gut.

Guy Lawrence: So when you say neural network…

Dr. Ranga J. Premaratna: I mean nervous system, like a nervous system in the gut, as well, same as the brain, but this one is even more extensive than the brain.

Guy Lawrence: So 70 percent?

Dr. Ranga J. Premaratna: Of the serotonin is produced, and serotonin is a neurotransmitter, so it gives us a feeling of well-being, so that’s why…

Guy Lawrence: So would that affect our thoughts?

Dr. Ranga J. Premaratna: Yeah, definitely. Yeah.

Guy Lawrence: Okay.

Dr. Ranga J. Premaratna: It can work both ways. Thoughts can affect serotonin levels. Thoughts can affect the gut. The gut can affect…

Guy Lawrence: So, if you’re thinking negatively, you could affectively be affecting the gut health.

Dr. Ranga J. Premaratna: If you’re getting angry, you’re anxious, if you’ve had a fright, it would be affecting the gut, the neuro-system in the gut.

Guy Lawrence: And then the gut has affected and then that will co-affect the way you’re feeling and your mood and sorts in the brain.

Dr. Ranga J. Premaratna: Yeah, yeah, it can become a vicious…

Guy Lawrence: Chicken and egg. Obviously there’s environmental stress, as well, and things like that that can affect a mood, but, with the serotonin, because obviously everyone, serotonin’s a big word when it comes to even depression and things like that, but if serotonin, 70 percent of it is produced in the gut, to me that makes sense then that’s where we should be looking.

Dr. Ranga J. Premaratna: Yeah, because if you have, if your digestion is poor, first of all, from starting from the stomach, if you don’t have enough, if you’re under stress, this is how it works, if you’re under stress your stomach’s hydrochloric acid can go down. If you have adrenal stress, your stomach function becomes a lower priority, so you’re more in a sympathetic dominant nervous system matter. That means you’re not relaxed, you’re agitated, and this can affect your digestion.

Or, if you’re an athlete, and you’re doing a lot of heavy training, your digestion goes into a lower priority, so for a short period of time you’re not really capable of digesting food.

Guy Lawrence: Is that right?

Dr. Ranga J. Premaratna: Yeah, so it’s important to give it a bit of time before you eat heavy proteins. If your digestion is poor for whatever reason, then you’re not digesting your proteins properly. You get partially digested proteins going to the colon, and over there you can get certain types of bacteria breaking those proteins down and producing a group of chemicals called indos and this indos can be quite toxic to the whole nervous system.

Dr. Abram Hoffer, who is a PhD in chemistry and also psychiatrics, was called the father of orthomolecular nutrition he passed away a few years ago, and he was about 90-something, and he did a lot of research with this indos parts, for example, if you are under stress, then you produce adrenaline. Adrenaline is oxidized by some environmental toxin coming into the body or your own generation of free radicals. If that adrenaline is oxidized by something called adrenochrome that can give you schizophrenic type of reactions. So he injected a small amount of adrenochrome and got his colleagues to observe his behavior, and he went totally crazy. That was his own experiment, but he did a lot more research on this area, so he finds that.

And I find in my practice with patients, you know, with depression and anxiety, a lot of it is due to gut problems. Constipation…

Guy Lawrence: Wow. Pulling everything back you just said then it all comes back to the gut.

Dr. Ranga J. Premaratna: Yeah. So, if you can keep your digestion and elimination in good condition, and detoxification functions, it can make a huge difference.

Guy Lawrence: All right, so, what happens if somebody’s listening to this, and they might be overweight, they might have a lot of stresses in their life, you know, typical daily burdens that we have from getting up, going to work, and paying the bills, all the rest of it, and they know they can feel that, maybe that, you know, they’ve got a lot of bloat, and they’ll be signs and symptoms of digestive problems and things like that, and there’s the whole interrelationship. Where would you start? What would be the first, best advice…?

Dr. Ranga J. Premaratna: I would think the best thing is to, if you can, get a health assessment like what we do. It’s the best way, then we know where the problem is. We can isolate the problem. Is it the stomach? Is it the colon? And then treat it.

Guy Lawrence: Yeah, right, because it’s a long term approach, but the hardest thing, I’ve found, you know, in the past, as well, when I’m on my own health journey is trying to work out just where to start because everything is so much involved.

Dr. Ranga J. Premaratna: I think the simplest, I mean, based on Ayurvedic medicine, as well, the simplest thing is to start with the stomach, because everybody has problems with the stomach, if they’re under stress, so I would recommend taking some digestive enzymes, hydrochloric acids or something to start with, and, if there’s bloating, because if you just take probiotics it’s not going to help. You have to start with the origin of the problem. If it is the stomach, then combine it with some probiotics. That would be the first step.

Guy Lawrence: Somebody said to me the other day, taking probiotics on a bad gut is like sending more soldiers to a losing war. I don’t know if that’s a…

Dr. Ranga J. Premaratna: I mean, there are different approaches, my approach is work at the same time, correct the stomach, provide the good bacteria, and I find I get good results with that. There’s one way of getting rid of all the parasites and the bacteria first and then replacing the gut with good bacteria, but I find that even if you are on an antibiotic or an antiparasitic herb you still want to put some good bacteria in, so while you’re killing some of the natural good flora as well as the parasites, you need to have some replenishing those sites that are emptying.

Guy Lawrence: Okay, Fair enough. So keeping that relationship together, to improve that brain function we now know that we need to improve gut function, they’re so closely related, what foods can we bring in, and what would we eliminate to start?

Dr. Ranga J. Premaratna: Definitely, first of all, avoiding trans fats is one of the biggest things, because trans fats from the structure itself is quite different. If I were to draw it, I can show you exactly how it looks.

We have two types of fat molecule structures. One is called cis structure. One is called trans. Transat’s structure is very different from the other structure, so if you have trans fats, the fatty acids getting into the membrane, it distorts the membrane, so the membrane fluidity goes down.

Guy Lawrence: And trans fats, for anyone not knowing what a trans fat is, a typical trans fat could be?

Dr. Ranga J. Premaratna: Any oxidized fats from the margarine…fast food…

Guy Lawrence: Fast food, basically, cookies, chips…

Dr. Ranga J. Premaratna: Yeah, exactly, anything that is heated, you get trans fats.

Guy Lawrence: Margarines a big one. They frustrate the hell out of me. You always see the low-fat spreads, you know, this is healthy, it’s got olive oil and all this, and, it’s like, oh, leave it alone, eat butter, right?

Dr. Ranga J. Premaratna: I would recommend butter, as long as you don’t overdo it.

Guy Lawrence: Right.

Dr. Ranga J. Premaratna: And things like avocado, you know, general fatty foods that…

Guy Lawrence: I was reading and, maybe, I don’t know how much you know about this, but I was reading that the brain is housed by 50 percent cholesterol, I think, or 60…

Dr. Ranga J. Premaratna: I don’t know exactly what it is, but they say the brain’s nervous system, neurons, are high in fatty acids. First of all, the neuron, the cell, has to be insulated by myelin sheath, and myelin sheath is fat, so you need to have high levels of fats to insulate the brain tissue.

Guy Lawrence: So you need high levels of fat to protect the brain tissue. I’m just thinking, logically does that mean we actually need to be consuming the right fats daily?

Dr. Ranga J. Premaratna: Yeah, the right proportion of fats.

Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Fish oil?

Dr. Ranga J. Premaratna: Yeah, fish oil, definitely, DHA. See, now we can get the fish oil actually from the seaweed, because fish get it from the algae and convert it to EPA and DHA, but you can get the direct algae-derived DHA that’s for the brain. Your brain is very high in DHA.

Guy Lawrence: Is that right? Okay. Fascinating. Next thing I wanted to touch on as well about the brain was glycation.

Dr. Ranga J. Premaratna: We have a term called AGEs, advanced glycation end products it can, for example, cataracts, if you look at high, cataracts happen because of a process like when you bake bread, so you have that crust formation. Same thing happens with amino acids reacting with sugars.

Guy Lawrence: And just to pull it back slightly, because I’ve been reading up on it so I sound really intelligent when I spit out a word like glycation, but I know it’s not thrown around that often. Can you just explain a little bit about what that is, because that was a term I first heard about five years ago on glycosylation. The glucose synthesis reaction, and that fascinated me ever since, so I might let you explain that.

Dr. Ranga J. Premaratna: Glycosylation is a reaction between sugars and amino acids, so, for example, glucose and an amino acid, so that reaction creates…

Guy Lawrence: They’re your protein…

Dr. Ranga J. Premaratna: Protein, so when you’re baking, for example, when you’re baking a bread, you have the sugar in the bread, you have the proteins in the bread. When they react at a temperature with oxidation, you create that crust, so the same kind of crusting happens in the eye. Same thing can happen in the brain. The brain tissue is very sensitive to oxidative stress.

Guy Lawrence: So, we’re made up of protein cells, does that mean that could effectively happen to our body? Joints. Tissue. All those things, or is it more…

Dr. Ranga J. Premaratna: More sensitive areas I would think for more damage, but other areas also could have glycation. Where there is oxidative stress is there, amino acids are there, sugars are there, the reaction can happen.

Guy Lawrence: Right, okay, so you spoke about the aging of the brain, so was that an acronym?

Dr. Ranga J. Premaratna: AGEs is advanced glycation end product, so it’s an acronym for that process.

Guy Lawrence: Okay.

Dr. Ranga J. Premaratna: So, glycation end products are these.

Guy Lawrence: So, essentially, your brain is crusting.

Dr. Ranga J. Premaratna: Yeah. Memory, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, all of the, the whole range of neurodegenerative conditions can come from this oxidative stress affecting the brain.

Guy Lawrence: Is that simply from having too much glucose in your diet?

Dr. Ranga J. Premaratna: Sugar, yeah.

Guy Lawrence: Sugar in your diet. Pretty simple, I mean, like you said. When people ask me about what’s the first thing, I always say, to eliminate from your diet, I always say sugar and then things that have an impact on blood sugar levels in your body, as well, so processed flours, things like that then.

Dr. Ranga J. Premaratna: Yeah, anything that breaks down into sugar very quickly has that response.

Guy Lawrence: So, would it be fair to say then if somebody is suffering depression or memory loss or forgetfulness or anything like that then…

Dr. Ranga J. Premaratna: Definitely. Cut down the sugar, have the high-quality fats, make sure your digestion is good, and make sure your elimination is good. Then, if your bowels are not clearing things because the liver detoxifies releases these toxins into the gall bladder. The gall bladder with bile, so bile is used to emulsify fats, so when the gall bladder releases bile into the small intestine, it actually emulsifies fats, so it makes it into smaller and smaller droplets so the pancreatic enzyme, the lipids, which breaks down the fats, can access those and break down the fats into fatty acids, otherwise you won’t absorb all the good fats, so…

Guy Lawrence: So why do they take people’s gall bladders out?

Dr. Ranga J. Premaratna: Yes. That’s because they don’t look at the problem. The problem is in the liver, not the gall bladder. If the constitution of bile is not good, then it can make gallstones, so the problem is what is coming into the bile that’s coming from the liver. If the liver is toxic, the liver enzymes are not detoxifying properly. You get toxic stuff going into the bile into the gall bladder causing problems in the bile constitution.

Guy Lawrence: Yeah, right.

Dr. Ranga J. Premaratna: So, I think most all gall bladder operations are just the wrong…

Guy Lawrence: Approach, yeah.

Dr. Ranga J. Premaratna: And then you end up with a bile duct being attached to the small intestine, so all the toxic bile drips every day into the small intestine, not like before where it’s stored for a while and then released when food is there. So it’s coming straight and can cause a lot of problems through the colon, you know, toxins can cause cancer. Yeah, it’s a real…

Guy Lawrence: Scary, actually. The other thing I wanted to cover as well, and I know you’re big on this, is source, and, obviously, you mentioned about how they influence the gut and things like that. Environment. Do you think that it affects, because you’ve got EMF pollution, and, obviously, daily stress and things like that.

Dr. Ranga J. Premaratna: I mean stress, because we are taking in information from our eyes, our ears, nose, tongue, five senses bring information in, and how we react to that information depends on our past. What we have packaged as programs, so you walk into a room, and you see a color that you don’t like, that can stress you without you even knowing. If you hate, say, yellow color, and you see a yellow room. Immediately your muscles start to contract because you have taken that information in, and your mind has reacted with, “I don’t like to see this,” and the muscle starts to contract.

Stresses like that happen all the time. Sounds. Maybe you’re hearing a sound without even knowing that you don’t like, you react, so basically what happens is our past packages up information and programs what creates the present moment’s reality.

So, if you can, what I recommend is stop, pause, take a couple of minutes, step aside, focus on your body, relax a little bit, take some breaths. Simple techniques like that can make a big difference to take that moment from the sympathetic dominance tape that your flight or fight response to a parasympathetic dominant, then you have a relaxation response.

You slow down, you relax, and you can summon that up promptly. Your digestion improves. Your elimination improves. Your scintillation improves, so, meditation is what I recommend.

Guy Lawrence: Meditation, of course. How much? How long?

Dr. Ranga J. Premaratna: I recommend short, three minutes, three minutes here, three minutes there. Before you come to work, spend two minutes, three minutes doing a simple…

Guy Lawrence: I mean, meditation is a, not a buzzword, but it’s a word that gets thrown a lot, yea, meditate, but, you know, how would you describe it. What exactly is it?

Dr. Ranga J. Premaratna: It is awareness. It’s three things: intention, attention, and awareness. So you have awareness, you have intention to focus the attention on something, could be a breath, could be a mantra, could be a body. Sustain that awareness for a short time.

Guy Lawrence: So it’s trying to keep your mind focused on the one…

Dr. Ranga J. Premaratna: One of three things.

Guy Lawrence: So, instead of sitting there with your eyes closed, daydreaming about what you’re going to have for dinner, you should be just actually thinking about the breath.

Dr. Ranga J. Premaratna: Yes, you can focus on the breath and how it affects the body, so relax the body, it affects the breath. When the breath because more subtle, then we finally fix the body, so it works as a mutually promoting response.

And it keeps going down deeper and deeper. The body relaxes, you need less oxygen. So your not-even-air starts to reduce, then you find that the breathing becomes very subtle, very deep, and it’s a simple thing to do.

Guy Lawrence: Yeah, right, wow. Electromagnetic fields are the other thing I want. You hear a lot about EMF pollution, especially in the big smog. We live in a city. Does that affect our mood?

Dr. Ranga J. Premaratna: Definitely. First of all, it affects our nervous system. The nervous system is ran on electricity, electrons flowing. Electrons when they flow create a very subtle electromagnetic field, so if any electromagnetic fields that are not in harmony with our own body subtle level, it will disrupt our nervous system, and then it disrupts our thinking.

Guy Lawrence: And our emotions. So it would simply, by having power points on and being in that environment and things like that.

Dr. Ranga J. Premaratna: In this room there would be about fifteen walls going across our body, and you can use an earthing pad of something that’ll neutralize it. There are other things that you can use to reduce the effect of it, yeah.

Guy Lawrence: Yeah, I actually bought a Q-link, and all my mates have given me so much stick about this when they see it hanging around my neck, but I just tell them to look up EMF, you know. You hear stories as well, you know, even within the bedroom, you should, you know, turn all your power points off, make sure your phone is turned on flight mode.

Dr. Ranga J. Premaratna: Yeah, very true. I mean, one of the biggest things that I notice is the car. The newer the car, the higher the electrical field coming off your engine, the electronics. I was exposed to that for about six months from my car, and I started getting these pains in my legs and tiredness, and I had to come and do some reiki and energy work to relieve, and I realized it because I tested it. I have an instrument that I can test, and it was toxic to from up to my wrist, and I have tested other cars which go beyond the car, it’s expanding outwards. The newer the car, the more electronics, the higher the electromagnetic fields.

Guy Lawrence: Is there any way we can do something to the car that would help that at all?

Dr. Ranga J. Premaratna: It’s hard to do that, but what you can do is, you have to chain the effect on your body, so wearing a Q-link is something like that or maybe certain herbs and other vitamins that can reduce the toxicity damage.

Guy Lawrence: And what about people on mobile phones all day?

Dr. Ranga J. Premaratna: Extremely dangerous, yeah, especially the brain, because all the electrical activities happen in the brain, and you’re really feeding this high intensity, but I’ve measured some of the electrical feeds from mobile phones. Some phones are not as bad as some.

Guy Lawrence: Right. I generally just wear the headset, I mean, because I’ve viewed the air tube in headset as well. I bought some, but they actually didn’t fit my iPhone.

Dr. Ranga J. Premaratna: I can test, because it’s quite easy to test this. When the phone rings you can see, I can test it, so right now there’s nothing happening.

Guy Lawrence: Yeah, because I’ve got it on flight mode.

Dr. Ranga J. Premaratna: See, like this, you can see that power point. Laptops are terrible, especially. People put it on their lap, as they call it, laptops, very high fields. From the keyboard, there’s less underneath. If you’re using a laptop, it’s best to put it on a table…

Guy Lawrence: That’s just goes without, family jewels down there. Yeah right, I’ll bear that in mind, you know, when the time comes, because I sit there with my laptop…

Dr. Ranga J. Premaratna: Because now schoolchildren are given laptops, like my daughter, you know, everybody has these laptops. They’re all putting them on their lap.

Guy Lawrence: It’s the technology and information age.

Dr. Ranga J. Premaratna: What happens to the reproductive system constantly exposed to this radiation? So whole generations of people can have menstrual problems and all kinds of stuff just from that.

Guy Lawrence: Wow. Yeah, right, that’s actually scary when you start to think about it, isn’t it? The last thing I want to cover as well, exercise. Surely, it’s a stress release and beneficial.

Dr. Ranga J. Premaratna: Yeah, definitely. I’m not an expert on exercise, but you…but it definitely does release it, because the fight or flight response is a stress response. If you do something active in the muscles, you’re going to disburse that adrenal and cortisol that had been increased.

Guy Lawrence: Yeah, right, of course. So, look, just to recap and tie it all together, trying to think of what we’ve just covered.

Dr. Ranga J. Premaratna: Started with the gut, then we covered diet.

Guy Lawrence: Get the gut checked, obviously, true relationships vital. Serotonin is 70 percent, you said, produced in the gut, which is incredible, so maybe, if you are, taking a, because you can take tablets, obviously, and encourage serotonin release from the brain. It might be worth getting the gut checked out instead, you know, in conjunction with that, I suppose. So, then once the gut and digestive tract is working, we talked about the removal of sugars.

Dr. Ranga J. Premaratna: Yeah, glycation, reduce glycation. Is the brain…

Guy Lawrence: The brains function as well. Trans fats is another big one, removal of trans fats, and then increase good, natural fats, quality fats. What else is there? We covered, so there’s glycation or the, obviously, the pollution, EMF, start having a look around in the environment you’re in, all the electric points.

Dr. Ranga J. Premaratna: Yeah, power points, especially near the bed or work areas.

Guy Lawrence: I did meet a guy once that said something about, they were selling these bamboo squares. I can’t remember. I’ll look into it more, and I’ll make up a link on the blog.

Dr. Ranga J. Premaratna: So far there are only two things that I know can change these household electrical fields. One is a product that can be plugged into the electrical sockets, and I’ve checked it; it drops the electrical field down to, normally it should be under thirty, and it drops down to thirty. So you can buy those things, but you have to test the house first and see what the level is and it drops it down, so there are ways of removing the field.

Guy Lawrence: And the Q-link, that’s why I wear it, and I’ll get my mates to listen to this, so they’ll stop giving me so much…

Dr. Ranga J. Premaratna: Yeah, okay, yeah.

Guy Lawrence: And, of course, yeah…

Dr. Ranga J. Premaratna: Mind.

Guy Lawrence: Meditation, even three minutes a day.

Dr. Ranga J. Premaratna: Yeah, things like tai chi, reiki, anything, yoga…

Guy Lawrence: Focuses the mind.

Dr. Ranga J. Premaratna: And exercise, yeah.

Guy Lawrence: Absolutely, and, if you want kids, no laptops on the laps, and mobile phones, use a headset, and, of course, a bit of exercise, which we always promote. Look, really, really appreciate your time. Thanks, Dr. Ranga, and I’m sure we’ll be recording more of these sessions in the future. Thank you.

Dr. Ranga J. Premaratna: All right. Thanks a lot, Guy.

Guy Lawrence: Cheers.

Dr. Ranga J. Premaratna: All right. Take care.

180 Nutrition

This article was curated by 180 Nutrition who were founded in March 2010 with the goal to offer the very best in natural health supplements and resources. The passionate team are aligned with leading health and wellness professionals including nutritionists, naturopaths, functional medicine and exercise specialists. They regularly connect with... Read More

Want More Articles Like This?

Sign-up for the 180 Nutrition mailing list to receive the latest news and updates.

I agree to 180 Nutrition Pty Ltd Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

2 Replies to “How to enhance brain function”
Chris says:

I love the podcasts, the sound level on this one was very low, however the transcripts are invaluable to gather the info correctly.
I love them,keep it up.

180nps says:

Thanks Chris… Appreciate the feedback. Yeah not happy with the sound myself and currently looking into a decent microphone for podcasting 🙂


Comments are closed.