Many of us have experienced a “gut instinct” or the feeling of butterflies when nervous or excited. People dealing with unexplained digestive issues may come to find a correlation between anxiety or excessive stress and their discomfort. In these cases, your brain may be receiving signals from its partner-in-crime: the brain in your gut.
Recent research about this “second brain,” also called the enteric nervous system or ENS, is reshaping our understanding of the relationships between digestion, emotions, overall health, and mental processes. If you’re curious to learn more about the brain in your belly, Seed and Soil Wellness offers a glimpse into the complex layers of the gut-brain connection.
What Does the Gut Brain Do?
While the big brain in your head can calculate a tip for your waiter or create a list of April intentions, your gut brain doesn’t work quite the same way. The ENS communicates with your brain through 500 million neurons, your hormones, and the vagus nerve, which controls messages to the gut, heart, lungs, and other vital organs. The gut brain directly contributes to your body functions in the following ways:
Plays a vital role in the production of serotonin
Communicates with the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis through the vagus nerve to trigger stress or relaxation
Slows down or speeds up digestion
Releases enzymes to breakdown food
Controls blood flow for nutrient absorption and elimination
Home to 100 trillion microorganisms, the microbiome of the gut is an incredibly complex and intelligent system within the body that plays a role in immunity, inflammation, and pain.
Information is constantly exchanged between your gut and your immune system, so distress in your digestive system can lead to both physical and emotional stress on the body. Gut microbes help control what is passed into the body and what is excreted.
If bad pathogens are able to pass through a compromised gut barrier into the blood, the immune system will switch on and cause an inflammatory response, which may lead to a large handful of other disorders including depression, dementia, and schizophrenia.
Are you struggling from mood disturbances, anxiety, or digestive discomfort? You may be experiencing gut dysbiosis, but there is a way to heal! Call Dr. Damon today to take the first step on your path to wellness – 727-282-4368.
How Do Stress and Digestive Challenges Intersect?
For decades, researchers thought anxiety and depression lead or contributed to problems such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and other bowels issues like constipation, diarrhea, bloating, cramping, and nausea. However, recent studies have revealed the challenge may be the other way around.
Pain and stress are the body’s protective mechanisms triggered by the sympathetic nervous system’s “fight or flight” response. While acute stress can be beneficial by helping u