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Gut/Brain Connection

“Does public speaking make you “feel nauseous”?

I told you last week that I would expand on the curious and exciting topic… “The Gut/Brain Connection” ….so here goes!

Let’s say we walk into a restaurant or a kitchen where the aroma of cooking food meets us (Hey Texas BBQ!) our body goes into action! Our stomach starts to release gastric juices even before we take our first bite!

When we feel hungry our stomach can tell our brain to FEED ME (by way of the vagal nerve). The vagal nerve (part of the parasympathetic nervous system) is a two-way highway between the brain and the gut or more precisely, the large intestines that has the ability to “talk” to each other. It has also been labeled as a “sixth sense”. Science now calls the gut the “second brain”. This two-way communication also involves the immune system.

Most of us think our brain is in charge….”nay”, says the gut…we are! In fact, the gut sends far more information to the brain than the brain sends to the gut! The main and very important role of the gut is to direct the digestive process….from swallowing to releasing gastric juices and enzymes that break down food, to blood flow, to nutrient absorption and elimination.

The gut (microbiome) can directly impact your mental health as well. Research shows that people who have IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), constipation, diarrhea, bloating, pain, and upset stomach experience big emotional shifts such as depression and anxiety. There is evidence that irritation to the gut may send signals to the central nervous system that trigger mood changes.

Stress is tied to our gut too. The fight or flight reaction to stress causes the digestive process to halt and the body will then use that energy to “run from the tiger” as it were. When we are stuck in that pattern of chronic stress response, the body becomes chronically inflamed. Chronic inflammation is the root of many serious health problems. Chronic stress also alters the gut microbiome which in turn can alter behavior.

There are important neurotransmitters such as serotonin of which about 80% is made in the gut. Serotonin plays a key role in mood, sleep, digestion, and bowel movements! Low serotonin may lead to constipation and high levels may cause watery stools.

This complex interrelationship of the “Gut/Brain Connection” is one important consideration when looking at health issues.

Would you like direction to help your gut health symptoms?

As a Functional Health Coach, I offer tests to help discover the health of your gut. Please schedule a “Discovery Call” here:

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