The Secret Gut-Brain Conversation You’re Not Privy To
Our body contains a super-highway, the vagus nerve, the connection between the entire digestive system and the brain. Emerging research has highlighted that this “gut-brain axis” consists of two nervous systems: the central nervous system (housed in the brain) and the enteric nervous system (housed in the gut).
The bulk of communication in this enteric nervous system super-highway runs south to north – the brain receives a ton of information constantly from our gut and other digestive organs to make sure things are running smoothly.
And when it’s not, we can experience disruptions in mental and cognitive health and function. Here’s why:
- 95% of serotonin is produced in the gut (mostly by both our own cells)
- Certain probiotics (“good bacteria”) can produce feel-good neurotransmitters including serotonin and GABA in the gut
- Lactobacillus rhamnosus strains especially have been found to support GABA production, which is calming to the brain – and to our overall mood! (See ya, anxiety!)
When issues crop up in our intestines, specifically involving an imbalance in the microbiome, or our microbial residents, the enteric nervous system transmits signals to the brain (Danger! Danger! Inflammation! Imbalances! Help! Do something!) in order to elicit an appropriate physiological response. A “send in the troops” type of response.
We can help our bodies out, support our mental health, and decrease the number and intensity of warning messages by establishing balanced gut microbes. This, in turn, will promote concentration, cognitive function, mood regulation, and various other aspects of well-being.
And if you’ve been reading this newsletter for the past few months, you’ll know that I’m about to promote the wonderful probiotic-growing qualities of prebiotics! This is one of the most important things you can consume for mental health. You can read more about eating them in your regular diet here.