Did you know that what’s going on in your Gut could affect your Brain

“Brain that stays in Gut” is giving a new dimension to our understanding of digestion, mood, health and disease onset.

Why do we stop eating food when we are full ?

Why do we feel sick or get vomiting sensation on the morning of an important exam ?

Stressed or Anxious, one feel butterflies in stomach. Feeling nervous or going through nerve wrenching moment, stomach growls and rumbles. Well – thoughts happen in brain, but stomach acts. The gastrointestinal tract is sensitive to emotion.  Anger, anxiety, sadness, elation — all of these feelings  can trigger symptoms in the gut. It’s  just not the troubled brain can send signals to the gut, but gut too sends signal back to brain. Scientists were shocked to learn that about 90 percent of the fibers in the primary visceral nerve, the vagus, carry information from the gut to the brain and not the other way around. Vagus nerve, originates with the dorsal motor nucleus in the medulla and extends through the abdomen to the viscera.

Gut Our Second Brain

Gut Our Second Brain

Our Gut has its own branch of the nervous system called the enteric nervous system that can function on its own, even if it is disconnected from the brain. The enteric nervous system, the second brain consists of sheaths of neurons embedded in the walls of the long tube of our gut.  The second brain contains some 100 million neurons, more than in either the spinal cord or the peripheral nervous system. It actually arises from the same tissues as our central nervous system (CNS) during fetal development.  The ENS supervises the processes of digestion and stays in close contact with, and is heavily influenced by, the central nervous system (the CNS) which comprises the brain and spinal cord. The ENS and CNS also use many of the same chemical messengers or neurotransmitters including acetylcholine and serotonin.

 “Brain that stays in Gut” is giving a new dimension to our understanding of digestion, mood, health and disease onset. 

” Our two brains — the one in our head and the one in our bowel — must cooperate. If they do not, then there is chaos in the gut and misery in the head — everything from “butterflies” to cramps, from diarrhea to constipation.”–  Dr. Michael Gershon

Do you want to get happy? Take good care of your Gut

95 percent of the body’s serotonin is found in the bowels. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter responsible for regulating things in the body like mood, appetite, and sleep. The right amount of serotonin in the brain ensures relaxed and positive feeling. Drugs that alter serotonin levels have important clinical uses such as in the treatment of depression, nausea and migraine.

Mental Health is lot dependent on Gut Health

Gut health has been linked to neurological and neuropsychiatric disorders. Disturbances in gut health have been implicated in multiple sclerosis, autistic spectrum disorders, and Parkinson’s disease. Even age-related gut changes have a say in Alzheimer’s disease. Cell damage in the gut signals the beginning of Parkinsons disease, and cell death in the brain come only at late stage of disease. Constipation, defined as fewer than three bowel movements per week, is perhaps the most widely recognized gastrointestinal symptom of Parkinson’s disease. Studies have shown that this symptom often begins before motor symptoms are diagnosed. In one study, researchers found that having a bowel movement less often than once a day indicated a risk of developing Parkinson’s four times higher than average. There is now research that is dubbing depression as an inflammatory disorder mediated by poor gut health.

Could a psychologist help me with my bowel problem?

The Drugs used to treat brain ailments can be used to treat Gut problems

Stress-reduction and depression therapy is now used to prevent and treat gastrointestinal disorders. So don’t be surprised if depression drug is suggested when you complain of  Inflammatory Bowel Disorder. Low-dose tricyclic antidepressant therapy has been found to be effective in treating moderately severe functional symptoms in patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

What types of psychological treatments are available to patients with bowel disorders?

Psychotherapies may help ease persistent gastrointestinal distress or at least help people learn to cope with such symptoms. These treatments include Relaxation therapy, Cognitive behavioral therapy, Gut-directed relaxation training. Biofeedback is another painless process recommended for patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disorder. In biofeedback, the physiological responses of the body, which are usually not noticed by the patient, are sensed with the electrical sensors and computer. Soon  patients learn to influence the responses and manipulate physiological events and eventually their gastrointestinal symptoms reduces.

There is growing awareness within the scientific and medical communities on strong connection between the status of the intestinal environment and the function of the central nervous system. The best part about  developing an understanding on gut-brain connection is that we could alter our daily lifestyle choices to improve mood disorder conditions, depression and brain ailments.

21 thoughts on “Did you know that what’s going on in your Gut could affect your Brain

  1. So true, the more I learn about the gut and how it’s connected to everything else, the more I’m striving to keep my gut (and that of my family) healthy! It’s so important to our immune system and overall well being!

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