The gut microbiome refers to the microorganisms, primarily bacteria that live in the human gut. A large number of these microorganisms play an important role in maintaining good health. However, if the beneficial gut bacteria balance is disrupted, it can lead to many health issues.
A gut microbiome or intestinal microorganism imbalance has been linked to digestive problems, skin issues, weight gain, autoimmune diseases, and mood disorders. Yes, we said mood disorders.
The gut microbiome is also known as a second brain. Studies have repeatedly confirmed that there is a strong correlation between gut and emotions.
Moreover, if there are excess unfriendly bacteria or other organisms in your gut, you may experience high levels of inflammation. It can lead to mood swings, brain fog, anxiety, fatigue, and depression.
Are you familiar with the fact that many studies have shown that an irritable bowel, which affects approximately 60 million Americans, can lead to an irritable brain? That’s not all, a bloated stomach can also contribute to a bloated and inflamed brain.
The Gut-Brain Connection
Namely, everyone has 2 nervous systems, including central nervous system, which is composed of your spinal cord and brain, as well as enteric nervous system (ENS), i.e., the intrinsic nervous system of your gastrointestinal tract.
In addition, both are developed from similar tissue during fetal development. In other words, one part turns into the central nervous system, whereas the other develops into the enteric nervous system. Both systems are actually connected through the vagus nerve. It is the tenth cranial nerve, which runs from the brain stem all the down to the abdomen. Research has shown that the vagus nerve is the primary route used by the gut bacteria to transmit information to the brain.
Furthermore, the ENS acts completely independently. It is responsible for regulating a large number of functions in the human body. The ENS coordinates muscle cell contraction, thus ensuring that everything moves in the right direction. It causes the gut enzymes and hormones to be released from cells to support digestion.
Additionally, the ENS has also an ability to promote blood flow. Therefore, when the food is ingested, it can get to where it is supposed to go. It also regulates the inflammatory and immune cells in the gut.
All this happens in the background and then it is communicated back up to the brain through the autonomic nervous system. In short, everything that occurs in the gut is actually communicated to the brain through the ENS. For instance, in case the gut is inflamed, stressed out, or has very few probiotics, it tells the brain about it.
This means that you should heal your gut in order to heal your brain. You can achieve it by healing your gut-immune system.
A Healthy Gut-Immune System Leads to a Healthy Brain
The immune system and gut are inextricably connected. About 60% of your immune tissue is found in your digestive system. Your gut is usually the first entry point for pathogen exposure like viruses and harmful bacteria that trigger disease. As a result of this, you should keep your gut-immune system healthy to prevent the development of a wide array of ailments.
To explain you more deeply, your gut-immune system is responsible for letting in only the good stuff, such as food in the form of vitamins, minerals, fats, sugars, and amino acids, as well as keeping out all the bad stuff, such as undigested food particles and harmful bacteria.
However, in case the function of your gut-immune system is disrupted, then your immune system will get activated and begin to react to toxins, and foods in your gut. It will lead to inflamed mood and brain.
It can also cause your bloodstream to absorb toxic molecules, thus getting them to your brain. Specifically, liver failure patients often go crazy since their bodies are not able to cleanse and detoxify the toxins and poisons from their gut bacteria.
In such a case, most people cleanse their intestines by taking prescription antibiotics.
But, all the medications you take can damage your entire gut ecosystem. That’s not all, your gut ecosystem can also be damaged by the regular consumption of junk food, sugar, low-fiber food, long-term use of antibiotics, acid-blocking and anti-inflammatory drugs, and chronic stress.
In case the protective functions of your gut are compromised, a wide array of ailments can occur. Namely, intestinal permeability can cause your immune system to go into overdrive. In addition, it can mount an unnecessary response against harmful bacteria, gluten, and undigested food particles that have passed through the permeable holes in the gut lining.
It is good to know that food intolerances are one of the early warning signs of leaky gut. In case it is left untreated, it can result in immune abnormalities, autoimmune diseases and many other health problems. Some of these health problems include Crohn’s disease, colitis, inflammatory bowel disease, fibromyalgia and muscle pain, arthritis, migraine headaches, psoriasis, eczema, scleroderma, thyroiditis, chronic fatigue, Graves’ disease, type-1 diabetes, Addison’s disease, lupus, etc.
Over time, it may also lead to bad mood, anxiety, brain fog, depression, multiple sclerosis, OCD, ADD, Alzheimer’s disease, autism, etc.
Here Is How to Keep Your Gut Flora Healthy to Support Your Brain Health
Dr. David Relman from Stanford has been examining the ecosystem’s DNA of bugs present in the gut. Moreover, he has concluded that the bugs found in your gut could play a more important role in supporting your overall health than your own DNA fingerprint. According to Dr. Relman, you can also support your brain health by maintaining a healthy gut!
Here is how to keep your gut healthy:
- Eliminate all common allergens, such as dairy and gluten.
- Avoid eating processed and junk food, food low in fiber, and sugar.
- Avoid consuming foods or drinks that contain artificial sweeteners.
- Consume fermented foods like sauerkraut, yogurt, kimchi, tempeh, kombucha, and kefir.
- Take probiotics. They are the friendly bacteria, which normally live in your gut.
- Take digestive enzymes.
- Avoid taking pharmaceutical medications for long periods of time. Namely, you should take steroids, antibiotics, acid-blocking and anti-inflammatory drugs only if necessary.
- Follow a whole-food diet that includes lots of high-fiber foods such as whole grains, seeds, nuts, beans, vegetables, and fruits.
- Hardy, Cullen. ˮThe Gut-Brain Connection: Altering Your Diet to Improve Your Emotional Healthˮ;
- Gershon, Michael. ˮThe Second Brain: A Groundbreaking New Understanding of Nervous Disorders of the Stomach and Intestineˮ;
- Mayer, Emeran. ˮThe Mind-Gut Connection: How the Hidden Conversation Within Our Bodies Impacts Our Mood, Our Choices, and Our Overall Healthˮ;