29 Sep Discovering the Gut-Brain Relationship
It’s easy to think that the brain controls everything in our bodies, but the gut and brain work closely together. There’s a lot of evidence that the gut enteric nervous system (ENS) affects brain function. In the ENS, there are the same amount of nerve cells as in the spinal cord, 90% of the serotonin, and 50% of the dopamine. What we eat and drink gets absorbed, digested, and moved by it.
Through the vagus nerve, the gut and ENS communicate with the brain. Contrary to popular belief, 90% of the signals sent by the vagus nerve get to the brain from the ENS. (That’s a lot of info the gut gives our brains!) It’s still able to work even if the vagus nerve gets cut (thus breaking down gut-brain communication).
So, why is our gut called our “second brain”? One of the most important functions of our body is in our gut and ENS. They turn our environment into energy. Without this operation, we wouldn’t exist. Our gut’s ability to function independently from our brain ensures that life-saving processes keep going.
You Are What You Eat—or rather, You Feel What You Eat!
The gut sends signals to the brain that affect mood. Researchers have shown that stimulating the vagus nerve can improve mood. In a recent study, subjects got intragastric infusions of saline or fatty acid solutions. Those who got the fatty acids were more resistant to sad emotions (like music and pictures) than those who got saline. The stomach/gut lining detects fatty acids. Therefore, feel-good nerve signals are sent to the brain, counteracting sadness cues.
Stressing out messes with your appetite
When you’re stressed, your gut makes more ghrelin. Ghrelin reduces anxiety and sadness. Through the vagus nerve, it also activates dopamine in the brain. However, ghrelin releases in the gut increase appetite. Ghrelin could be one of the reasons you stress eat.
The Blues and Bacteria
A study found good bacteria in the gut can modulate mice’s GABAergic system, compounding the gut-brain interaction. Gut bacteria interact with the ENS. In fact, they can send signals through the vagus nerve and the GABAergic system. There’s a possibility that good bacteria in the gut can help fight anxiety and sadness. Therefore, probiotics could be helpful for improving mood or overall well-being.
If you’re ready to begin improving your health from the inside out, having your neuroendocrine system checked is a great place to start.
Reach out today and let’s talk about what the next best step is for you and your health and wellness goals.
In case you missed it…
NEW PODCAST EPISODE
Have you ever heard the old maxim, “The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison?”
Well, it’s true.
Even the ‘healthiest’ fruits and veggies can be unhealthy for YOU.
In this new episode, you’ll learn why the inflammation that comes from food allergies and food sensitivities matters for your brain and your health.
I’m talking about food allergies, food sensitivities, INFLAMMATION, LEAKY GUT and I’m asking you: is the FOOD you’re eating making you SICK?
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