Comprehending the Brain/Gut Connection

Our gut has been called a “second brain” for a variety of reasons. This dynamic system is comprised of more than 100 million nerve cells. No wonder it controls so much more than digestion.

Nerve cells communicate back and forth from our gut to our brain, influencing our mood, mind, and wellbeing. Doctors used to believe our moods contributed to gut problems, such as irritable bowel syndrome. Now, we realize this gut-brain axis connects both ways.

How to improve the flow of information
Trillions of microbes in our gut produce neurotransmitters that influence our emotions. Feeling depressed? It might stem from these chemical messengers migrating between your gut and brain. We produce serotonin, a.k.a. the “feel-good” hormone, and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which controls anxiety in our guts. Certain strains of probiotics, living microorganisms of yeast and bacteria, may actually reduce anxiety and depression by changing our gut’s microbiome.

Leaky gut syndrome
When our gut lining grows damaged, tiny holes allow substances, such as undigested food, bacteria, and gluten, to escape into our system, potentially harming our health. This may also cause depression and anxiety as well as autoimmune diseases, allergies, and other illnesses. Eating a healthier diet and reducing sugar, processed foods, and any substances causing inflammation might help.

Why go gluten-free?
Gluten has been front and center for many years as a possible cause of inflammation in the digestive tract and beyond. It influences cortisol and serotonin levels and may cause a bacterial imbalance in the gut, resulting in depression and other symptoms.

Chase the blues away
From constipation to bloating, our guts may trigger emotional distress in our brains. If you suffer from gut issues, anxiety, and/or depression, try an elimination diet removing sugar and gluten. Low impact exercise may also help by reducing the time it takes to pass certain pathogens. Add probiotics and healthy fiber from fruits, vegetables, beans, and seeds and let nature take its course.