Do you ever feel butterflies in your stomach? Or encounter any feelings that is not logical but feels on point, usually its known as “gut instinct” or “gut feeling.” Well, this happens because of the connection between your gut and brain.
Want to know how the digestive part is connected to the psychological portion of your body? Then first, you have to understand what these parts are. To learn more scroll down the give this article a quick read.
What is Gut and the Brain?
GUT: The gut is the second brain. It is basically the gastrointestinal system, also called the gastrointestinal tract. It is a group of organs that includes the mouth, esophagus, stomach, liver, pancreas, gallbladder, small intestine, colon, and rectum. The system helps to digest food and drink.
Brain: Central nervous system. It is the control unit of the body where all the logical things happen that make sense. It takes input from different body organs and gives output as the change in behavior as a response to the information.
These two parts and their functions are entirely different from each other. One helps in digestion while other help in making decisions, giving reactions, ability to think and other rational function. But they are casually connected with each other biochemically and physically.
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How Are They Connected?
The connection between the gut and brain is simply called the gut-brain axis.
Neurons are the cell that found in your brain. And interestingly, there are 500 million neurons in the gut too that are connected through the nerves in your nervous system. The biggest nerve is called the VAGUS nerve that sends signals in both directions.
The brain is connected to the guts chemically through neurotransmitters. They are produced in the brain and control emotions and feelings. For example, serotonin is the neurotransmitter that controls the happy feeling and also the body clock.
The same neurotransmitter is also produced by gut cells and gut microbes. A large amount of serotonin is made in the gut.
Effect of Unhealthy Gut on Brain
The gut produces about 95% of serotonin that can be reduced when the gut is unhealthy. The sudden reduction of this neurotransmitter can cause stress and discomfort.
The brain can stop functioning and shut down several processes frequently when the required amount of hormones are not provided.
An unhealthy gut can lead to anxiety, stress, depression, and other mental health problems in a human being.
ADD/ADHD is also connected to gut dysbiosis. The other brain diseases are schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s. But these diseases can be prevented by maintaining gut health.
Ways to Improve Gut Health for Better Brain Function
There are some ways that can improve gut health and help in maintaining brain function and stability.
Less Sugar and Sweeteners
Eating a lot of sugar can cause gut dysbiosis (the imbalance of gut microbes). Sugar can directly harm the good bacteria and can increase the sugar craving that can result in further damage to the gut. Eating less sugar help create a stable mood and energy level. And can reduce the chances of diabetes.
Reducing stress is the most crucial aspect of gut health, and it directly relates to your brain. It can undeniably affect negatively. Chronic and acute stressors are responsible for shifting the gut bacteria in multiple regions and habitats. Serve stress can reduce gut flora diversity, and it can also increase the amount of harmful bacteria such as clostridium and reduce good bacteria like lactobacilli.
Exercise influence the gut microbiome. It reduces the transit time in the large intestine and accelerates the gas movement through the gastrointestinal tract. It also helps to improve the gut bacteria that boost the energy level. Regular exercise can be beneficial for gut health that is directly related to brain wellness.
Get Enough Sleep
Good sleep is the solution to many physical and psychological problems. It can improve mood, cognition, and gut health. Irregular or bad sleeping habits can have an adverse effect on gut flora, and this can increase the risk of inflammation. The adults must have 7 hours of sleep daily on average.
A large population around the globe is smoking their lungs out regularly. It can increase the harmful microorganism potentially and lower the level of a beneficial one. Smoking increases the firmicutes and decreases Bacteroides.
Probiotics have the ability to ease anxiety and can treat autism too. It supports a healthy gut microbiome and can prevent other gut problems and inflammation. Fermented food such as miso, kefir, kimchi, and other fermented vegetables are great probiotics. There are some probiotic supplements are also available that can give the same result.
Although antibiotics are a great way to battle bacterial infections, overuse can cause the problem. They can damage the gut micro biota and immunity. They not only kill harmful bacteria but also the good ones. It takes almost 6 months to recover from the damage antibiotics cause to the gut.
Avoid Unhealthy Food
“Healthy food, healthy mood” is not a wrong statement. Healthy drink and food has the power to lift up the mood and can give other health benefits. While unhealthy food can satisfy cravings but on the other hand, it can harm the gut health. High calories food increases the level of bacteria related to obesity and reduces the overall gut diversity. Fried food, spicy food, food with too much fiber, and other unhealthy food can lead to different diseases. On reflex, the plan-based diet can help in balancing gut diversity.
This is how the gut and brain work together and send and receive the signal from each other. Better gut health can lead to a better mental state. Including a good diet in daily life and maintaining a health can have a positive effect on the gut and directly help with better brain function. People who want to enhance their gut health can follow these simple ways that are discussed above. This not only helps with better gut health and better brain but also with other parts of the body.