Have you ever had a gut-wrenching experience? There’s a reason they exist. The gastrointestinal tract is sensitive to emotions, anger, anxiety, sadness, etc. All of these emotional feelings can trigger symptoms in the gut.The brain can directly affect the stomach. Thich is easily demonstrated by the feeling of hunger that we get at the very thought of eating something delicious. We can also feel nausea in the gut before giving a presentation or feel abdominal pain while we are stressing. If someone jumps in front of you, you have a physical reaction, perhaps sweaty palms and a clenched stomach.
Where Does the Connection Take Place?
The walls of the digestive system house the brain in your gut, also known as the enteric nervous system (ENS.) The ENS controls digestion, from swallowing to the release of enzymes that break down the food we eat. Research on the enteric nervous system suggests that it communicates back and forth with our brain. The ENS triggers emotional shifts for people who have irritable bowel syndrome.These findings help us understand how bowel-disorder treatments such as antidepressants and mind-body therapies can improve gut health. It is not uncommon to be prescribed antidepressants by a gastroenterologist to treat gut health. Also, patients who take probiotics show twice as much of an improvement in mood compared to the placebo. With an improvement in the gut, comes an improvement of wellbeing.
Leaky- gut and Leaky Brain
Challenges, such as leaky gut are on the rise. A leaky gut can also contribute to inflammation within the body, causing the blood-brain barrier to become leaky, or permeable. This means that molecules and toxins may be able to enter the brain. In a healthy gut, the wall of the small intestine acts as a gatekeeper. It allows water and nutrients to absorb while harmful substances are kept out. Poor diet, medications, and bacterial overgrowth compromise the lining of the gut and determine what is known as a leaky gut. Symptoms vary but can include food sensitivities, allergies, arthritis, hives and more.Several foods can help to heal the gut, and thus the blood-brain barrier. These include bone broth, raw cultured dairy, fermented vegetables, coconut kefir, as well as sprouted seeds and legumes.Conditions associated with leaky-brain include:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Brain fog
- Infections of the nervous system (parasites, bacterial infections, fungal infections)
- Mood challenges (anxiety, bipolar, depression)
- Multiple sclerosis
Markers of Leaky Gut
Our brain manages several vital aspects of our body, including our thoughts and hormones. Unfortunately, there is an increase in the number of brain problems in the United States. By investing the mechanism of the leaky brain, functional medicine can begin to understand the root cause. MicroRNA-155 Research suggests that microRNA-155 is a marker for elevated inflammation. This molecule can create microscopic gaps in the blood-brain barrier, allowing toxins and unwanted substances to go through. The permeability of the blood-brain barrier forces the brain to work in overdrive and become inflamed. Brain inflammation may be associated with symptoms such as depression, anxiety, brain fog and autoimmune brain problems. This is because of the decrease in the firing rate of neurons in the frontal lobe of the brain. Homocysteine High levels of the amino acid, homocysteine, may be associated with blood-brain barrier damage. Furthermore, studies show stress, poor diet, and toxins raise homocysteine levels in the body. To reduce these levels, the body needs adequate amounts of vitamin B from food so that it can convert homocysteine to glutathione, which would behave as an antioxidant to help put autoimmune rations into remission. Homocysteine levels above 7 UMOL/L may damage the protective blood-brain barrier and are connected to autoimmune brain diseases, such as Alzheimer’s.
Natural Remedies for Your Gut-Brain Connection
a. Avoid Processed Foods A whole foods diet leads to proper digestion, compared to those who eat ultra-processed foods like white bread and chips. The prebiotic properties found in the fibers of whole foods will aid digestion and help balance blood sugar to avoid sugar and sweets. b. Eat probiotics Probiotic-rich foods, such as kefir and sauerkraut, cause your gut to thrive and also your mood. In addition, probiotics feed the good bacteria in the lining of your stomach to help support a proper immune system. c. Consider eliminating gluten Positive effects on the gut microbiome are correlated with limiting gluten intake. This is because we are not consuming grains that soak and sprout to aid in digestion. As a result, fast and convenient processing methods wreak havoc on our guts. d. Eat Healthy Fats Healthy fats such as avocado, olive oil, and nuts have antioxidant properties that protect our cells from damage. This is because have shown to improve memory and mood. Tyrosine is in the healthy fat of sesame seeds. This is an amino acid that boosts the dopamine levels in the brain to help improve mood.