You may be hearing info about connections between the brain and the gut, and you’re wondering what the excitement is all about. Here’s a gut-brain axis primer.
Not that long ago, the idea of a gut-brain super highway would have sounded like the stuff of a late-night science fiction movie—but, in fact, it’s quite real, and it’s actually a two-way highway. The gut talks to the brain and the brain talks to the gut, creating what’s called a “bidirectional link.”
Here are a couple more helpful definitions:
- The brain is part of the central nervous system (CNS).
- The gut is part of the enteric nervous system (ENS).
With the gut-brain axis, there are direct and indirect pathways between the two parts of the body, with help from other systems, including the endocrine, immune, and autonomic nervous systems. Communications between the CNS and the ENS take place both physically and bio-chemically.
Here’s what else plays a significant role: your body’s microbiome, which are all the microorganisms in your body. Prof Rob Knight, from University of California San Diego, told the BBC: "You're more microbe than you are human."
Originally it was thought our cells were outnumbered 10 to one.
"That's been refined much closer to one-to-one, so the current estimate is you're about 43% human if you're counting up all the cells," he says.
But genetically we're even more outgunned.
Microbial medicine is in its early stages, but some researchers think that monitoring our microbiome will soon become a daily event that provides a brown goldmine of information about our health.
At a high level, that’s the definition of the gut-brain axis. If you want to take a deeper dive into the physiology of how this works, there’s a guide at PsychSceneHub.com. And, although this has only become a topic of significant discussion over the past several years, it’s really nothing new to you. Seriously!
Butterflies in Your Stomach
In a sense, you’ve probably been aware of the gut-brain connection all your life, and just not given it much thought. You know that fluttery feeling you can get in your gut when nervous, right? Well, this is an example of how your closely brain and gut are connected and how quickly they can communicate with one another.
So, the next step—that your brain can affect the health of your gut, and vice versa—likely feels much more logical now. In fact, the degree of your mental wellness can be affected by bacteria in your gut. To help, we’ve provided a mental wellness assessment that you can conveniently take online.
This assessment is based on the Profile of Mood States questionnaire (POMS) that has been research-validated and used for nearly two decades to measure stress levels, mental wellness, and biochemical balance (or imbalance) in research study subjects in a range of clinical trials.
You can also find more information in our in-depth report on gut health and anxiety.
Gut-Brain Axis and Helpful Foods
Certain foods are especially beneficial, with Healthline.com sharing this information: “A number of foods such as oily fish, fermented foods and high-fiber foods may help increase the beneficial bacteria in your gut and improve brain health.”
Plus, to optimize gut health, it makes sense to eat the right foods in the right combinations. Hardy Healthy Gut provides insights into how to prevent digestive problems by strategically pairing foods, avoiding combos that slow down digestion or cause enzymes to cancel one another out.
Free Mental Wellness Assessment
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. The gut-brain axis research adds to the body of knowledge showing the need for a holistic health approach, including physical and mental wellness alike. As the next step, we invite you to take our free assessment today.