Guest Post By Emylee John
Have you ever been so happy that you feel butterflies in your stomach? Maybe, it was that first feeling of love or getting your dream job or winning an award.
Or, have you been in a situation that makes you feel nauseous? Why does this happen? Is our gastrointestinal tract sensitive to emotion?
Yes it is.
The reason for this is the hundreds of emotions your brain feels.
Whether it’s anxiety, anger, sadness, happiness, or joyfulness, these emotions trigger the gut.
The brain has a direct effect on the intestines and the gut. For example, when you smell good food, saliva released in your mouth. Similarly, intestinal juices is secreted before you eat.
Note- This is a guest post and the views and the sources are her own.
The Connection Between The Gut And The Brain Goes Both Ways.
If your stomach is upset, you will feel stressed and anxious. Having a heart-break or feeling depressed can disrupt some functions of the digestive system.
How is this connection formed between the brain and the gut? The brain and gut is connected biochemically and physically in several ways including:
Gut microbes primarily connect the gut and brain. The high number of active microbes that live in the gut makes chemicals that regulate some functions of the brain.
They also produce essential short-chain fatty acids(SCFA) such as propionate, butyrate, and acetate. These short-chain fatty acid are produced by digesting fiber molecules, helping to reduce appetite and alleviate stress.
The Vagus Nerve
The biochemical communication between the gut and central nervous system is called the gut-brain axis.
The quality and quantity of the food that you eat processes certain emotions and regulates mood. You may have heard eating chocolate uplifts your mood.
Let’s understand how this works:
Once you eat, the digestion starts in the mouth, which then goes to the stomach and then the small intestine. After the ingestion, these particles come in contact with the finger-like projections known as villi.
Villi is lined with a single layer of epithelium, and this consists of different cells. Enteroendocrine cells are one among those specialized cells, which secretes various hormones upon interaction with food.
It ‘s been discovered that these cells send signals via vagus nerve. They sense the environment and react to it.
They sense thermal, mechanical, and chemical stimulus from the food you eat, the nutrients obtained through food, and the bacterial byproducts in the gut lumen.
These vagal neurons carry the sensory information to the brain stem, linking the signals generated by the intestine to the brain.
And with the help of the neuropod cell, the vagus nerve acts as a conduit for the food in the gut to influence brain functions within seconds.
This connection also serves as a portal for the gut pathogens to reach the brain. This research is a new-laid foundation for designing different therapies to treat gut disorders related to the gut-brain signal.
Experiments showing this communication:
- According to research conducted in 2011, Dr. Cryan and his team found when specific probiotics were introduced in healthy mice they showed more relaxed behavior than the mice in which probiotics weren’t introduced.
- Also, probiotics contain a neurotransmitter called GABA that helps in treating anxiety naturally.
- This helps in learning about the gut bacteria, which influences the brain and the supporting treatments and therapies.
Foods That Help The Gut- Brain Connection
Amino Acid- rich foods: A amino acid known as tryptophan converts into the neurotransmitter serotonin. Foods which contain tryptophan include eggs, cheese, and turkey.
Antioxidants rich foods: There are many antioxidant foods that are rich in polyphenols. These polyphenols are chemicals obtained from plants. Some polyphenol-rich food include cocoa, green tea, olive oil, and coffee.
And research suggests that dietary polyphenols protect the nerves from neurotoxins, inflammation, and enhance memory and cognitive functions.
High Fiber foods: Green vegetables, fruits, whole grains, seeds, and nuts are some high fiber foods. These all are good for your gut, as these all contain prebiotic fiber, and this fiber helps reduce stress.
Fermented foods: Fermented foods are those which contain lactic acid . These alter brain activity. Some of the foods included in fermented foods are yogurt, cheese, kefir, sauerkraut.
Omega 3 foods: Omega 3 is a type of healthy fat that is found in our brain in very high quantities. These also increase the good bacteria in your gut and, in turn, cut the risk of brain disorders.
Along with these foods, maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle is essential for maintaining a robust mental and physical health.
Emylee is a wellness lifestyle writer and loves sharing her thoughts and personal experiences related to natural remedies, yoga and fitness through her writing.
Emylee now writes for How To Cure. She connects with others experiencing health concerns and helps them through their recovery journeys through natural remedies.