The Gut - Brain Connection

March 4, 2016

 

 

Have you ever heard an expression such as: “I feel it in my gut”, or “I have a gut feeling”?  Statements such as these may not be so far off.  There is emerging science showing that the brain and the gut are intimately connected.  

 

Having an unhealthy gut can lead to having an unhealthy brain.  And the converse can be true as well: having an unhealthy brain can lead to an unhealthy gut.  

 

We think of a poorly functioning brain as being forgetful, getting lost easily, or difficulty learning new things.  However, symptoms such as poor digestive function may also be a sign of suboptimal brain function, and may even be some of the earliest signs. By poor digestive function I mean symptoms such as excessive bloating and gas, difficulty with digestion, constipation, etc.

 

Very often these people have tried various medications and supplements, such as antacids or probiotics, etc. but to little or no avail.  That is because the brain-gut axis is impaired, which can decrease the digestive processes.  

 

How can this brain-gut axis be restored?  Simple home exercises, such as gargling with water, can help to restore optimal function of the vagus nerve, and the brain gut axis.  

 

Inflammation in the gut can also reach the brain.  Our digestive tracts have an immense immune system.  This immune system not only kills bad organisms, but likes to “socialize” with the good ones, as well as things like food.  Therefore it is very important to eat a diverse diet, especially diversity when it comes to vegetables.  

 

However, things such as continuous poor diet choices can through this “socialization” process off, so that the immune system becomes paranoid and starts to react to things like milk protein.  Inflammatory compounds are released, which can travel to the brain.  These compounds, called cytokines, can then signal the immune system in the brain, causing it to react.  This can cause inflammation in the brain, which is not good!

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