Everything that we think and everything that we have been taught is that the brain is the most significant organ in our body. It is, without our brain we would not be who we are today. We think our brain is in charge though, sending messages via nervous systems, to the various parts of our body.
Well, here is some news for you. It may not be our brain. It may actually be our gut. This way of thinking has been going around for a while now but is gaining momentum, hugely.
As far back as the 1800s it was thought that the waste in your colon could lead to infection and disease, especially mental illness, depression and psychosis. Very often patients who had mental breakdowns were treated with colonic purges or bowel surgeries.
The medical world started thinking differently though and traditional medicine, or the way that medicine is practiced today, took over. But now, studies have shown how your gut is intricately connected to your brain. Mental health is very much connected to the microbes in your brain. As the Scientific American reported:
‘Scientists are increasingly convinced that the vast assemblage of microfauna in our intestines may have a major impact on our state of mind.’
Not only is the gut connected to the brain but it has been found that embedded in the wall of the gut is the Enteric Nervous System, which works independently of the brain as well as in conjunction with it.
The ENS contains almost 500 million neurons and these neurons are what makes your gut have instinct. We all know what gut instinct is. They are feelings. They respond to environmental threats or emotional and physical threats that send information to our brain and affect our mental health. The communication between the two brains, the brain and the gut brain, runs both ways and is the pathway for how foods affect your mood.
Starting to make sense that chocolate makes us feel good?
Fatty foods can make you feel good because the fatty acids are met by cell receptors in the gut lining that sends warm and fuzzy feelings, nerve signals actually, to the brain. But the gut brain connection is more than just comfort food or butterflies in your stomach. Again, as the Scientific American reported:
‘The gut brain axis seems to be bidirectional. The brain acts on gastrointestinal and immune functions that help to shape the gut’s microbial makeup, and gut microbes make neuro-active compounds, including neurotransmitters and metabolites that also act on the brain’.
Experiments were done on mice. Germ free mice which have no micro biome at all, have altered behavior and a different brain function. Mice without microbes in their intestine were unable to recognize other mice around them.
That is a huge finding! Microbes may communicate with the brain. Apart from keeping us mentally healthy, maybe they keep us social. Microorganisms in the gut during infancy permanently alter gene expression. Through gene profiling and research, they can see that the absence of gut bacteria altered genes and changed pathways involved in learning, motor control and memory.
Gut bacteria are closely tied to the brain. They are tied to the way the brain develops and the behavior that comes from this. When you hear somebody talking about ‘that gut feeling’ it is not just a feeling. IT IS REAL. Our gut acts like a brain. Our gut is a brain. The other thing people say is ‘check your gut instinct’. It is not just instinctual that our gut tells us how to feel or how to act. It is a real messaging system. It is connected to the brain and the nervous system.
Look after your gut environment
This is now the new thing to do. Make sure your gut is healthy. Be consistent in your eating. If you keep changing your diet, you throw your whole gut out of sorts. Put healthy foods in your gut. Eat raw and organic. Feed your gut the microorganisms that it really needs to function. It is not only about your body health here. It is about your brain health. Gut macrobiotic influence the levels of serotonin that are released from our bodies. Serotonin makes us feel happy. So many anti-depressants or anti-anxiety tablets work by changing the levels of serotonin in your body. But, look after your gut, and you look after your mental health too.
A natural health care practitioner or an enlightened medical doctor, will now talk to you about your gut when you are ill. Mentally and physically. There are supplements, natural supplements that you can take to increase the health and wellbeing of your gut. Take control of your mood and your weight and your health by taking control of your gut.