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The Gut-Brain Connection

Have you ever felt “butterflies” in your stomach? Not that queasy sensation during your first date or that nervous feeling during your first job interview! I mean that sharp pain, that makes you almost jump or that chronic bloating, that just appears out of nowhere and you look down and ask yourself, “Where did that come from?” I usually get abdominal pains when I eat too fast or intake excess dairy or high-fibre products. This discomfort may be very common but it’s not fun….. for anyone.

Did you know that these feeling are actually signals?  They are in fact your body communicating with you. To be more specific, it is your “2nd brain trying to tell you something and it wants you to listen up.

The 2nd Brain

Hidden in the walls of our digestive system are marshalling neurons and supporting cells which even the number of neurons in the spinal cord. Scientists call this the Enteric Nervous System (ENS) and it is sometimes referred to as “the 2nd brain”. This independent thinker is connected through a system of nerve fibres of over 100 million nerve cells stuffing your gastrointestinal tract, from the oesophagus to your rectum!

According to the Director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Neurogastroenterology, Jay Pasricha, M.D., whose research on the ENS has hoarded global attention, the main role of this “second brain” is to control digestion, from swallowing to the release of enzymes that break down our food, and to control blood flow, from nutrient absorption to elimination.

This “2nd brain” sparks emotional shifts which are commonly experienced by people suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome, diarrhoea, constipation, upset stomach, or bloating. Doctors thought that depression and anxiety play a part in these problems. However, studies show that the reason for these disorders may also be the other way around. Researchers are looking for proof that these annoying disorders in the gastrointestinal area send alerts to the central nervous system that spark off mood changes. Taken by surprise? Let’s see how it works.

To learn how to have a healthy brain naturally,  click here.

Gut-Brain Connection: How it Works and Impacts the Mood

The link between your gut and brain is called the gut-brain axis. These two organs are physically and biochemically connected through millions of nerves. Starting to believe that your gut is directly connected to your brain? Watch this:

The gut-brain connection offers us a deeper understanding of the relationship between diet and disease, and when talking about mood problems, we are referring to mild and moderate forms of anxiety and depression

Here are a few food suggestions to improve mood and maintain a healthy gut-brain axis:

Gut Health: 7 Reasons Why It’s Important

Did you know that there are around 40 trillion chemists deep in our gut working hard to digest our meals and make essential nutrients that we can’t produce on our own? Yes, these talented creatures play a bigger part in who we are than we’ve likely ever imagined.

Now  let’s deep dive into 7 key reasons why we need a healthy gut:

1. Gut Health Affects Nutrient Absorption

How our body absorbs nutrients from the food we take is primarily affected by gut health. Human gastrointestinal microbiota, a.k.a. gut microbiota or gut flora, are microorganisms that play a fundamental role in establishing optimal nutrient absorption and utilization. These bacteria determine how well our body is capable of breaking down and absorbing nutrients.

A healthy gut helps prevent nutritional deficiencies by:

  • directly producing vitamins in the intestines for our bodies to absorb (includes Vitamin K and B-vitamins)
  • producing fuel for intestinal epithelial cells to maximize nutrient absorption
  • breaking down non-digestible food components into molecules that increases energy in the body

To learn more about about Nutritional Deficiencies, click here

2. Gut Health Affects Our Toilet Habits

Its a thing that everyone does but no one wants to talk about: Poop. It may be the most uncomfortable conversation to have, but let’s face the truth: Your poop tells you a whole lot more about your gut health! When talking about toilet habits, your “usual” is whatever is usual for you. Puzzled? You’re not alone.

Millions of people around the world are dealing with bowel-related problems. Toilet habits may differ from one person to another, but it’s ideal to know how important our gut condition is when it comes to healthy living.

Check out these  9 Surprising Foods that Make You Constipated.

3. A Healthy Gut Keeps Us Safe from Infections

It’s surprising to know that a healthy gut microbiota not only kills bacteria living in the intestines but also helps us get rid of infections in the rest of our body. Studies show that healthy gut microbes have the power to increase the function of the whole immune system.

A healthy gut increases our ability to fight off different types of infections including:

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4. A Healthy Gut Blocks Systemic Inflammation

Systemic Inflammation refers to the condition where our immune system produces infection-fighting chemicals although there isn’t an infection. In the long run, these chemicals damage our healthy cells if released uncontrollably and may lead to different chronic diseases

 If you want to know how to fight inflammation naturally, click here.

5. A Healthy Gut Defends Autoimmune Diseases

When our immune system identifies a normal molecule in our body as a foreign invader, it starts beating up and striking any cell that contains it. This condition is called autoimmune disease. During this immune-system misfire, our bodies produce proteins called autoantibodies that ambush healthy cells.

A healthy gut helps prevent many autoimmune diseases. This is where eating the right foods are so important. As the saying goes, “you are what you eat”.  Look for foods and recipes that increase your gut health. For example:

  • Yoghurt
  • Turmeric
  • Miso
  • Kombucha
  • Probiotics
  • Peas
  • Brussel Sprouts

Having a healthy gut helps minimize the number of foreign bodies that our intestinal immune cells encounter. Want to learn how to boost your immune system and gut health? Watch this video :

6. A Healthy Gut Prevents Heart Disease

Does gut health only affect our immune system? No! It also has a large impact on our cardiovascular health. A healthy gut leads to a healthy heart.

7. A Healthy Gut Protects Our Brains

Possibly the greatest benefit of having a good gut health is having a good brain health. About 100 trillion bacteria are living and working inside our gut. And guess what? The most impressive role of these good guys is surprisingly in the brain!

About 90% of serotonin (a feel-good hormone) is produced in the gut. It helps regulate our mood and improve our state of happiness.

If you want to learn how to boost your happy hormones, click here.

The Bottom Line

Your gut does have feelings, doesn’t it? The gut-brain connection is no joke. We may not be able to determine our genetics nor the authentic composition of our gut bacteria, but we can control what types of food we eat so that our gut, and in turn our brain, harvests the full benefit.

Happy eating!

Want some delicious recipes for your gut and brain? Click here

Please note: This article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Results may vary from individual to individual.

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