The "Second Brain" in Your Stomach
The gut is considered a third branch of your central nervous system made up of more than 100 million nerves working together to communicate through the nerve pathways to the rest of your body. The enteric nervous system (ENS) is referred to by experts as your body’s “second brain.”
Your gut health influences every aspect of your health. A recent review released by the University of California confirmed that the gut and brain share a “complex bidirectional communication system that not only ensures the proper maintenance of digestion but is likely to have multiple effects on affect, motivation, and higher cognitive functions, including intuitive decision making.”
They go on to endorse many things I’ve been saying for years about the guts influence on body inflammation, stress, emotional conditions, obesity, and eating disorders.
The Gut-Brain Connection
The brain and your underappreciated gut are a single system, working together to keep your body functions working at peak condition. There are aspects of both – duplicated chemicals, cells, and tissues – in the other. They use the same methods and nerves to communicate.
Your “second brain” has all the same neurotransmitters and just as many neurons as the spinal cord or peripheral nerves. It’s true! In fact, 95% of the body’s serotonin is found in this gut “brain!” No wonder it affects our moods, actions, and performance.
Negative thinking causes issues in the gut and the mind. Poor lifestyle choices such as smoking, excess alcohol use, and inadequate diet are also felt by both. Your gastrointestinal system becomes irritated and sluggish – and so does your brain.
They are intricately connected and what affects one, rebounds on the other.
A high stress situation immediately clenches your gut and stress causes an instant pause in the digestive functions to avert resources where they’re needed most.
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Preserving Gut Health is Good for Your Brain
How do you keep this communication system open and running efficiently? The key is knowing what feeds your gut and brain properly. Your body is unique and what foods work best are specific to you.
The modern diet is pro-inflammatory. As a result, your bowel is the real hotbed of inflammation. This causes a ripple effect of problems affecting systemic health in your organs and tissues.
Literally, if the gut is “on fire,” your entire body is under attack and ripe for damage.
Intestinal fire is the underlying cause of an amazing array of conditions. Allergies, autoimmune disease, diabetes, heart disease, mental illness, behavior disorders, and so much more are linked to a part of the body the medical community thought it had all figured out!
The Community of Gut Flora
Your gut health depends on a balance of positive gut flora. This beneficial bacteria eats bad bacteria and keeps you healthier than you can imagine. There is also bacteria in your gut that is not beneficial.
Good or bad, those bacteria share their genetic material with us. They actually outnumber our standard “human” genes. Where you and I have about 25,000 unique genes, these microbiomes have more than 10 million!
Now for the truly fascinating part: they are responsible for how you process food, absorb and utilize nutrients, how you flush toxins from your system, your metabolism, and your hormone balance.
They also dictate exactly how your body behaves. Take a moment to process that information. Those bacteria (good or bad) have the ability to control as much of our bodily functions as our own human DNA.
Planet Human…The Discovery
It sounds like science fiction, doesn’t it? A human with 25,000 unique genes picks up “hitchhikers” that don’t leave. The human body then maintains a symbiotic coexistence with these “simple” organisms that possess millions of unique genes. Those genes are shared with us and influence everything from how our body functions to how we feel!
When you see the big picture, that whole “second brain” thing makes sense!
*Post courtesy of Dr. Keith Scott-Mumby, “Britain’s Number One Allergy Detective”. Scott-Mumby has published several books in this field and been interviewed by the BBC and TV and radio stations worldwide, as a recognized expert in alternative health paradigms.
He is a professor of nutrition at the Open International University for Complementary Medicines, USA.