10 Reasons to Strengthen Your Brain-Gut Connection
In the last few years, there has been mounting research focused on the role that gut balance plays in a balanced mind. As just one example, The National Institute of Health (NIH) has spent millions on the Human Microbiome Project that studies the various ways that microbiome impact health and disease, as well as supporting a 2014 Mental Health research program aimed at understanding the microbiome-brain connection. The results so far are promising: multiple studies link a strong gut-brain connection (or what scientists refer to as the “gut-brain axis”) to improved mental outlook, mood swings, and focus.
Of course, you only have to ask someone with constipation how their mood is to know that this research is really just confirming what Hippocrates declared two thousand years ago: “all disease begins in the gut.”
10 ways balancing your gut-brain axis helps balance your state of mind:
- Your gut has its own nervous system (commonly known as the “Second Brain”) that operates and reacts independently from the brain. (See Dr. Michael Gershon’s The Second Brain: A Groundbreaking New Understanding of Nervous Disorders of the Stomach and Intestine)
- The gut sends more signals to the brain (via the vagus nerve) than the brain sends to the gut.
- A healthy gut helps ensure you absorb the micronutrients that fuel your brain and balance your moods.
- Healthy gut bacteria have been linked to a more balanced mental state; while unhealthy bacteria have been linked to mood imbalances, brain-fog and irritability.
- You have ten times more gut bacteria than you do cells in your body.
- Neurotransmitters are produced and live in your gut, including the majority of your serotonin.
- Approximately 70% of your immune system lives in the mucus lining of your gut, acting as the first line of defense for the majority of toxins.
- A strong gut-brain axis has been linked to balanced eating.
- Data indicates that people with mental health issues are more likely to have digestive health issues.
- The foods you eat directly impact the health of your gut lining, the absorption of nutrients, and your state of mind.
This interconnectedness between the brain and gut plays a fundamental role in appetite, energy, mood and digestion. When any of these four health factors (or “brain-gut balance pillars”) are out of balance, the others tend to follow.
For example, when you are going through a stressful few days, you may notice you are more likely to eat erratically, have digestive issues, and not sleep well. Likewise, when you have eaten too much sugar or caffeine, you’ll probably notice increased distractibility, gut complaints, and energy swings.
Supporting any of the four pillars helps balance the other three. When you sleep well, exercise, and eat well, your digestion will be better, and so will your mood. To maintain gut-brain balance and live a stable and thriving life, these four pillars have to work in tandem.
Luckily, there are a few simple steps you can take to help support your brain-gut connection: Absorb plenty ofmicronutrients to help balance your mind and digestive tract (learn more: the health buzzword that’s here to stay), support healthy gut bacteria with probiotics and prebiotics, take care of your gut lining with whole foods, healthy fats, and amino acids like L-glutamine, avoid foods that you don’t digest well, and stay hydrated.
Taking care of your gut is key. You aren’t just what you eat: You are what you absorb.
Nadia Tarazi, MBA, MA, CPCC, is an Executive Coach and Founder of MicroNourish®. Nadia developed the MicroNourish System after dramatically improving her own focus, digestion, and relationship with food through micronutrition. The premier system includes micronutrients and digestive formulas designed to target brain and gut balance for inner balance, mental clarity, and calmer eating. Nadia curates the online magazine, You Are What You Absorb®, which features experts sharing practical advice on good nutrition and mind-body balance; she also developed the mobile app, ThinkPal®, which generates coaching questions to help people get unstuck.
This article first appeared in Red Orbit on April 8, 2015. You can read the original here: http://www.redorbit.com/news/health/1113367392/10-reasons-you-should-strengthen-your-brain-gut-connection-040815/