Have you heard of the brain-gut connection - or, more correctly, the brain-gut-brain connection ?
Did you know that thoughts and emotions are known to affect your intestinal health?
Did you also know that the state of the gut has a huge effect on your mental health?
Psychological studies show that your mind and your body have a strong bidirectional link. As your mental health declines, your physical health can wear down; and if your physical health declines, it can make you feel, mentally and emotionally, “down” or anxious.
For example, if you’re stressed, the fight/flight signal is sent to the gut which upsets and changes digestion, resulting in symptoms such as bloating, gas, reflux, diarrhoea and constipation. Stress also affects the gallbladder (bile secretion), liver function, pancreatic secretion and stomach acid secretion.
On the other hand, if the gut health is bad, it can lead to mood disorders such as depression and anxiety. The link here is serotonin - 90% of which is made in the gut. It’s both a “feel good” hormone and a neurotransmitter in the brain.
Another connection is the vagus nerve (the longest of the 12 cranial nerves) which travels all the way from the brain to the digestive system. It plays an important role in the pathogenesis of psychiatric disorders and obesity, as well as stress-induced diseases and inflammatory diseases.
Does all disease begin in the gut as Hippocrates stated? Modern medical research appears to be proving this.
Scientists have discovered that the gut microbiota (or intestinal flora) have more than a billion neurotransmitters that regulate our digestion, moods, mental health and behaviour. So much so that they have named the gut the “second brain”.
The gut microbiome refers to all of the organisms that live in or on your body: the bacteria, viruses, fungi, protozoa, and parasites plus all of their genes — one hundred trillion microbes!
These microorganisms perform various functions ranging from strengthening the immune system, generating chemicals that make you feel happy, and extracting energy from food that you eat. Restoring your microbiota restores the health of your body and mind.
Some facts about the gut.
1. The gut microbiome is a key player in the nervous system, the immune system, and the endocrine system.
2. There are nearly 2 kilos of bacteria and other microbes in the gut at any given time.
Together, these microbiota, the enteric nervous system (the “second brain”), and the vagus nerve are responsible for 80% of the signals sent from the body to the brain.
3. Your gut microbiome has more diversity than a rainforest with over 40 trillion different species.
4. More than 70% of the immune system is in your gut.
5. Your gut microorganisms aren’t all “bad guys”. For example, E.coli helps stimulate regeneration of the gut lining.
5. The genes found in your gut microbiome outnumber your human genes by 10:1.
6. Antibiotics wreak havoc on your gut microbiome. An unhealthy diet and lifestyle, plus overuse of antibiotics, are depleting the good bacteria and allowing the over-growth of the wrong type of bacteria. This makes you more prone to both physical disease and mental disorders.
7. Mounting evidence suggests that the common, underlying cause of major chronic diseases is inflammation which originates in the gut.
Inflammation occurs when there is damage to the intestinal wall. This damage can be caused by medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs - which can cause 80% of damage in 2 weeks!), aspirin, gluten, gliadin and infectious agents such as viruses, bacteria, protozoa and parasites.
Damage to the intestinal wall causes the tight junctions (or gaps) in the wall, which control what materials the intestine absorbs, to become more open. This allows larger molecules of food, normal gut flora, ‘bad’ bacteria, bacterial endotoxins and parasites to pass through, resulting in intestinal hyperpermeability or “leaky gut”.
When these larger molecules pass through the gut wall, the immune system on the other side of the wall doesn’t recognise these “invaders” and attacks, leading to chronic inflammation, which is at the root of most chronic diseases. This is a big part of why nowadays there is a big explosion of auto-immune disease.
Leaky gut can cause:
coronary heart disease
urticaria (itchy rash)
chronic fatigue syndrome
The solution to mental, digestion or immunity issues and fatigue is simple.
Learn about how to heal your gut wall, re-balance your gut flora, address lifestyle issues such as bad diet, smoking, abuse of alcohol and lack of exercise, plus learn the necessary skills (such as relaxation, visualisation, and EFT/tapping) to cope with the stressors of life.
For more information about the best services for your needs or to organise an appointment - just give us a call!