Healing the Gut-Brain Connection: What you need to know
If you’ve ever “gone with your gut” to make a decision or felt “butterflies in your stomach” when nervous, you’re likely getting signals from an unexpected source: your second brain. We use these expressions for a reason. Hidden in the walls of the digestive system, this “brain in your gut” is revolutionizing medicine’s understanding of the links between digestion, mood, health and even the way you think.
What is Gut (intestinal) health? Why is it good for general wellbeing? How is the Gut and Brain connected? What is the role of the gut microbiome? Why does stress affect our stomach so much? How can we improve our digestion?
The gut-brain connection refers to the communication network that exists between the gastrointestinal tract and the central nervous system. Recently, there has been a growing body of research suggesting that good gut health has been shown to be connected to a healthy brain and nervous system. Hormones, neurotransmitters, and immunological factors that are released from the gut can send messages to the brain either directly or through other neurons.
Our digestive tract contains various types of microorganisms, including bacteria, archaea, fungi, and viruses called the gut microbiota, gut microbiome, or gut flora. When the gut microbiome is disrupted, it can lead to a range of health problems, including digestive disorders, autoimmune diseases, and mental health conditions. Therefore, maintaining a healthy gut through a balanced diet, regular exercise, and stress management is essential for overall health and well-being.
Your gut health is crucial to your overall health and can affect both your body and brain.
About the Gut Health
What is Gut or intestinal health?
Our digestive system – A functionally correct digestion that facilitates the supply of nutrients to the body, as well as the proper excretion of waste generated. It also ensures the balance of the gut microbiota or gut microbial environment, which has important functions in our body: metabolism, energy, moods, protection against other pathogenic germs and their proliferation in the intestine, strengthens the immune system, etc. Also, the gut is responsible for producing around 70 – 90% of the body’s serotonin, which is mostly found in our bloodstream. Serotonin plays important roles in the gut and metabolism, but it can also stimulate nerve endings that connect directly to the brain.
Why is good digestive health so important for our overall well being?
The digestive system is interconnected with the rest of the body, especially the central nervous system and the immune system, so good digestive health is reflected in good general health. I like to say that it is the digestive system that, in a way, balances the body.
What is the gut microbiota or gut microbiome?
The microbiota can be defined as the set of microorganisms present in a defined environment of our body. In this case, the microbiota located in the intestinal tract, for example, would be referred to as the gut microbiota.
The microbiome is the diverse population of trillions of microbes that live in your body. This part of your body controls how healthy you are both physically and mentally.
The microbiome consists of thousands of different types of bacteria, archaea, fungi, and viruses both ‘good’ and ‘bad.’ A healthy microbiome favors beneficial bacteria and prevents too much ‘bad’ bacteria which could harm your health. The system of communications between the gut and the brain is often referred to as the gut-brain or gut-brain axis.
What are the functions of the microbiota?
First of all, it has a metabolic and digestive activity. It also has a protective role against pathogens and is a decisive factor in the development and maturation of the immune system.
How can we improve our gut health and prevent digestive problems?
In general, by leading a healthy lifestyle. We should increase the consumption of prebiotic and probiotic foods, learn to manage stress, exercise and encourage adequate rest, among other healthy habits.
How WG can help prevention and treatment of the Gut Health be approached?
At Wellness Garden (WG) we are aware of the consequences that not caring for the Gut Health and its effect on our health and well-being and that is why we have created a specific programs where we try to offer an innovative and multidisciplinary service of prevention, guidance and treatment of disorders that involve a digestive and microbiota imbalance, as well as the various psychological and organic disorders that generate these dysfunctions. Explore the Gut Health programs and their benefits with our specialized expert partners.
Food & Gut Health
What foods are suitable for promoting good digestion?
Foods that are anti-inflammatory and non-irritating for the digestive mucosa contribute to maintaining a healthy intestine and, therefore, good health. Vegetables, garlic, onions, asparagus, fruit, cereals, pulses, seeds and healthy fats like olive oil, coconut oil etc.. should not be missing from our diet.
How do coffee, alcohol and drugs affect gut health?
Alcohol and drugs can irritate the intestinal mucosa and lead to an imbalance in the gut microbiota (dysbiosis). Among the factors affecting the microbiome of our digestive system, scientists highlight the role of drugs. The intake of drugs such as antibiotics, laxatives, female hormones, antidepressants and antihistamines alters the composition of the gut microbiota. Studies have shown that coffee has a positive effect on gut microbiota, as it has a prebiotic effect. Coffee contains soluble fibre, mainly arabinogalactans and galactomannans.
Immunity & Gut Health
What is the relationship between the gut and the immune system?
The two are a mirror image of each other. A weak gut is conducive to a weak immune system, and vice versa. The effect is therefore two-way: the damage to one leads to damage to the other.
Emotions & Gut Health
Why do emotions have such a strong influence on the digestive system?
We can consider this area as our second brain. Our emotions or thoughts are communicated with the gut. Nowadays we talk about the gut-brain axis because of these implications. Our emotional condition affects our digestive health and vice versa.
End note from WG Team
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