The Brain-Gut Connection: A Science-Based Approach to Balancing Your Happiness
What is the Gut-Brain Connection?
The gut-brain connection is the communication pathway between the central nervous system (CNS) and the enteric nervous system (ENS). The CNS consists of the brain and spinal cord, while the ENS consists of nerve cells lining the gastrointestinal tract. Together, they make up what’s known as the neuroendocrine system.
The gut-brain connection is a two-way street. It starts in the gut, where 70 percent of your immune system lives. When you eat something that your body doesn’t agree with—like processed foods or foods that you’re intolerant to—your immune system kicks into overdrive to fight off the offending substance. This can lead to inflammation, which has been linked to every major disease. So, if you’re eating a diet that promotes inflammation, it’s no wonder that you may feel tired, anxious, or even depressed.
The brain-gut connection refers to the trillions of bacteria living in a symbiotic relationship with the human body. The word microbiome describes this collection of bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other microorganisms living in our gut.
The gut-brain axis, also known as the enteric nervous system, describes the communication between your gut and your brain. It turns out that 90% of serotonin, famous for its role in anxiety, happiness, and sleep, is made in the gut, not in the brain!
So, what does this mean? It means that changing how you feed your gut bacteria can lead to changes in your mood!
Your Brain Is Hardwired to Your Gut!
The gut-brain axis describes the communication between the brain and the gastrointestinal tract. This communication is bidirectional, meaning that it can work in both directions.
For example, when you are stressed, your body releases stress hormones that travel through your bloodstream and gut. This causes your gut to secrete certain chemicals that can affect how you feel and behave.
This connection between the brain and gut is so important that people who suffer from chronic stress often have troubledigesting food properly and may experience bloating, constipation, or diarrhea.
· Stress can cause digestive problems by increasing our sensitivity to pain signals from our guts.
· If you suffer from chronic stress or anxiety, you may also experience heartburn, indigestion, or acid reflux.
· These conditions are usually caused by increased stomach acid secretion due to abnormal muscle contractions within the digestive tract.
The condition of your gut can also affect your mood and mental health. For example, people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are more likely to experience anxiety and depression than people without IBS. Researchers believe this is because of an imbalance in the gut microbiome—the trillions of bacteria that live in your gut. An imbalance in gut bacteria has also been linked to Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and even anxiety and depression.