Do you find yourself experiencing “butterflies” before giving a presentation or that sinking feeling when something goes wrong? These sensations are the result of brain and gut communication through an intricate system known as the gut-brain axis.
What you eat affects the bacteria that thrive in your gut, which in turn has an effect on both your mental health and mood. Discover more about the connection between gut bacteria and brain health and learn how to keep it optimal!
Researchers have recently discovered that digestive symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhea and constipation can be controlled by your brain. This is due to stress hormones influencing gut bacteria and their flora within your digestive system – when under stress your body releases cortisol into your bloodstream to prepare your body to fight or flee an attack or threat; this hormone then impacts on which gut bacteria thrive and ultimately alters the structure of your digestive system.
Scientists recently identified a two-way communication network known as the gut-brain axis, and its discovery has revolutionized our understanding of how the brain and gut interact. A study published in Nature Communications used vibrating capsules to detect neural responses associated with gastrointestinal sensations; this method may provide an effective clinical method for studying this complex connection; which might explain why your mind, which resides safely inside your skull, appears so deeply affected by what goes on deep within your belly.
The gut is very sensitive to emotion, which explains why just thinking about an exciting event can give rise to butterflies in your stomach and feelings of dread or anxiety can cause your muscles to tighten up and contract. Your brain communicates with the gut through chemical neurotransmitters which deliver messages between brain and stomach and vice versa.
The enteric nervous system, often referred to as your second brain due to its position lining your digestive tract, contains neurons and neurotransmitters similar to those found in the central nervous system. It is especially significant since it communicates with vagus nerve, which controls many body functions including heartbeat and stomach movements as well as informing your brain when you need nutrients or food.
Additionally, gut bacteria help produce or produce many neurotransmitters which transmit messages between your brain and gut as well as between your gastrointestinal tract and the rest of your body. A diet rich in fiber can help promote an ideal environment for these bacteria to flourish in.
Anyone who has ever experienced nerves before a public speaking engagement or digestive issues during periods of high stress knows that our gut microbiome is highly reactive to emotion. That’s why feelings can trigger digestive issues–thus giving rise to terms like “butterflies in the stomach” and “knots in the gut”.
Researchers have established an association between depression and the composition of our microbiomes. For instance, an inadequate number of bacteria in the digestive tract can make us overreact to stress, as well as hinder their ability to convert tryptophan into serotonin for serotonin production – thus having a direct impact on mood as well as psychological conditions like PTSD.
Diets that encourage beneficial gut bacteria growth can help both prevent and treat depression. A diet rich in high-fiber foods and plant-based fats (such as those sourced from soy) are the cornerstones of creating a balanced microbiome; in addition, these ingredients promote short-chain fatty acid production which has beneficial effects on brain and gut health.
Scientists have recently discovered that our gut bacteria communicate with our brains via nerve signals as well as chemical signals which affect how our bodies operate. This two-way communication may explain why emotions like fear, anxiety and depression are associated with digestive issues like IBS or bowel inflammation.
Stress has an immediate impact on how the digestive tract operates and can lead to physical responses such as nervousness before giving a presentation and nausea following it; these feelings are real physiological reactions to stress in your GI system that manifest physically as changes.
A diet rich in probiotics and prebiotics can support healthy gut-brain axis functioning. When selecting foods high in polyphenols like cocoa, green tea, olive oil, or cocoa; they will be processed by gut bacteria into short-chain fatty acids that boost both gut microbiome health and cognitive performance. Yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut or more fiber may also contain prebiotics for digestive health purposes and improve gut bacteria production of short-chain fatty acids that support cognitive performance and cognitive functioning.