Digestive Health: Exploring the ‘Gut-Brain’ Connection
Digestive Health: Exploring the ‘Gut-Brain’ Connection: It is well known that signals from our brain impact our stomach or gut. Think back to a time where you were extremely worried about a looming presentation and then felt butterflies in your stomach, a lump in your throat and noticed a change in your bowel movements. This is a demonstration of how your digestive system automatically responds to emotions experienced. However, have you ever wondered if these same signals can travel in the opposite direction, so that your gut can communicate to your brain and impact things like your emotional state? It appears that our gut is smarter than we anticipated and is in fact, commonly known as our ‘second brain’.
Our gut is smarter than we anticipated and is in fact, commonly known as our ‘second brain’. Click To Tweet
How our Gut Impacts Emotion
Just as our brain is composed of many tiny cells (neurons), our digestive tract is also composed of numerous neurons. They are constantly sending and receiving messages. Interestingly, our gut is lined with over 100 million neurons- this accounts for a greater number of neurons in our gut than in our spinal cord! Now you can begin to appreciate the potential for information delivery from your gut.
Within our gut (as well as our brains) neurons can produce hormones and chemicals, which directly impact our moods. Serotonin is a hormone paramount in mood control and plays a role in depression treatment. Interestingly, serotonin is found predominately in our gut! Therefore, when medications work to increase serotonin in our brains, this may not help to increase the serotonin in our gastrointestinal tract, which may account for poor treatment results. Evidently, the foods we eat impact our gut flora and the chemicals released in our digestive tract. So stay in tune with your body and notice the differences, physically and emotionally, when eating whole grains, vegetables and fruits versus eating processed convenience foods.
Bottom Line: Our gut is truly smarter than we ever imagined!
Let’s listen to what our ‘second brain’ is saying. Nourish the body with foods that build a healthy digestive tract and produce feel good hormones! Last, remember to keep stress in check since it plays a negative role on various bodily systems. By understanding the relationship between our gut and brain, we can appreciate how our body is interconnected and how we can be nourished by the foods we eat.
Remember to keep stress in check since it plays a negative role on various bodily systems Click To Tweet