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Wellness Guide

The Other Brain in Your Gut

The Other Brain in Your Gut
You know that “gut feeling” you get sometimes? It’s a lot more significant than it seems.

Our brain and the central nervous system are responsible for most of our behavior, disorders, thought process and more. However, your gut houses what’s known as the “second brain” that directly influences your daily wellbeing far more intimately than one would assume.

The “second brain” in the gut is a system of neurons that make up the gastrointestinal tract known as the enteric nervous system (ENS) and is the gut’s equivalent of the central nervous system (CNS) in the brain. Our ENS communicates closely with our CNS through a highway of nerves called the vagus nerve that blankets all of the major organs in the body from the brain down to the large intestine. Information communicates freely through the vagus nerve, which influences the state of your brain in relation to the other organs—specifically your intestines. This explains why when we feel stress in our brain, it can cause an upset stomach, constipation, or ulcers.

Your gut serves the body as one of the main physiological stress response areas. You’ll notice this in action when you have butterflies in your stomach or a turning feeling when you are triggered emotionally. These gastrointestinal movements and reactions are directly tied to emotion, mood and everything related to them. It goes to show that the ENS has a direct effect on our moods, some mental illnesses, and of course, digestion process. Moreover, did you know that the ENS can operate independently from the brain to process digestion? This just shows how powerful our second brain in the gut really is.

Do you deal with depression or other mental ailments? The mind-gut connection plays a rather large role during such mental states. The gut is actually responsible for producing 95% of the body’s serotonin—otherwise known as the happiness hormone. When prescribed antidepressants, most commonly SSRI’s (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), the medicine is used to supplement serotonin to raise the lower levels found in depressed individuals. More often than not, taking SSRI’s leads to bowel aggravation because it can lead to too much serotonin being present in the gut. With a surplus of serotonin in the bowels, it can cause irritable bowel syndrome—a disorder which affects 2 millions Americans—as well as other gastrointestinal problems. As you can see, this direct connection between gut and mind goes beyond the typical digestive process.

Combat the internal battle of poor emotion, moods and severe mental illness by taking care of your gut. This can be reflected as a result of good diet—going out of your way to consume gut-positive items which promote its health. It can also be elevated with certain routines or exercises, such as Belly Button Healing for self-healing. Aside from these, you can seek out specific supplements at natural health stores or online—just make sure to do your research. The more we learn about the gut, the more it’s clear that it does a large portion of the heavy lifting, making it nearly as important as the brain for carrying out daily functions. As you experience the connectivity between your brain and gut, the relationships will become clearer and you’ll be able to navigate through the ups and downs of each. Remember: if you take care of your gut, you take care of your brain too!
Written by Austin Adams
Austin is a writer and creative mind who loves movies, books and anything artistic. Video games are one of his favorite pastimes, along with working out and staying active. He likes to try and maintain a healthy lifestyle, but also loves the experience of trying new food and drink. He's sort of a walking contradiction.
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