Monday March 2, 2020
You’ve probably heard the old adage that “the way to someone’s heart is through their stomach.” But did you know that the way to a person’s stomach may actually be through the brain?
For several years, researchers have focused on the close connection between your brain and your gut. This goes beyond that feeling of a “gut instinct.” This is actually a health connection that can cause you serious problems if left unchecked.
Let’s look at three ways your brain and your gut are connected and how this can impact your overall bodily health and well-being:
- Vagus Nerve — Your brain is connected to different parts of your body through nerves. Although there are several nerves traveling from your brain to your gut, the vagus nerve is one of the largest.
This connection works on multiple levels. For instance, if you are stressed out and worrying, the vagus nerve has trouble sending signals to your brain. This has been connected to gastrointestinal problems. If you have severe problems such as Crohn’s disease or irritable bowel syndrome, then it may be because the nerve is not functioning properly.
Ultimately, if your vagus nerve is not functioning properly, you could have a reduction of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates stress by helping you feel happy.
- Gut Microbiome — While microbes such as bacteria may not sound like something you want in your body, the reality is that billions of them exist, particularly in your gut.
The bacteria found in your cecum, a section of your intestine that is called the gut microbiome, can actually be helpful. Some of the microbes are used in digestion, especially when it comes to processing milk and fiber.
Other microbes assist with other functions of the body such as your nervous system and immune system. If there is a breakdown in your gut microbiome, then toxins and even food particles may escape through the lining of the intestine and enter the bloodstream, leading to potentially serious health problems.
- Leaky Gut — A third area of concern has the portentous title of “intestinal permeability,” but most people know it as leaky gut. With this, the lining of the intestine becomes permeable, meaning that bacteria and other particles can pass through, especially at junctures, to enter the bloodstream and be carried to the rest of the body.
Leaky gut has been linked to a variety of health issues ranging from migraine headaches, fatigue, joint pain, food sensitivities, and fibromyalgia. These can also have a great impact on your mood as the pain and discomfort play heavily on your emotions.
One of the most important things you can do to take control of your health is to see the connection between your mind and your gut. Problems in these three areas have been linked to physical issues as well as mental and emotional ones that can hurt you in many ways.