Match Made in Health: Understanding the Connection Between the Brain and the Gut
The human body is the epitome of craftsmanship. Every part, every organ works with one another to keep you vital and active. When you think about what two things work together, you think the obvious – the brain and spinal cord, the foot and the ankle, the mouth and the esophagus, and so on. However, the human body is much more complex than we think. Recent studies have linked the connection between the brain and the gut, and how poor gut health can lead to poor brain and body function. By understanding the relationship between the brain and the gut, you can then work on improving your digestive health.
What is Gut Brain Axis?
Think about the old school switchboard operators. Each time someone picked up the phone, an operator gave them a direct line to the person they were trying to call. This concept is the same way your gastrointestinal system works, it’s one huge switchboard that gives other systems a direct line to talk to the brain.
Gut-brain axis is a biochemical signal responsible for the transmitting communication between the brain and the digestive system. Biochemists, neurologists, and gastrointestinal specialists are concluding that the relationship between the gut and the brain can influence anxiety, depression, and chemical imbalance, thus affecting your mood.
Gut-Wrenching Is No Longer Just a Saying
When something traumatic happens or witnessing an injustice, it’s likely you said the phrase “This is so gut-wrenching.” It may sum up what you’re feeling at the moment, however, it’s not just a saying, it’s the real thing.
A recent article in the Harvard Health Publication revealed that the direct line between the brain and the gut is evident and one can’t function without the other. The gut will have a physical response anytime it receives a trauma signal from the brain. A person could have an upset stomach bloating, diarrhea, or constipation as a reaction to the signal the brain, and not a physical problem in the GI tract.
Go back to the switchboard analogy. When someone is trying to reach another person, and the operator can’t get through, if it’s urgent matter, the person trying to call will ask the operator to keep trying.
Imagine that everyone trying to make phone call couldn’t get through to the other person,they would continue to ask for a line. This would put stress on the operator and the switchboard.
Apply that same concept to the gut and brain connection. When the brain is experiencing trauma, stress, or exhaustion, signals that the GI system is sending to the brain either aren’t being responded to or have a slow response time. When the tract tells other organs that there isn’t an answer, they pick up the pace by sending demand signals to the GI system to get in touch with the brain.
How to Make the Relationship Work
Just like human relationships, the relationship between the gut and the brain has to be rock solid for it to work and that’s where you come in. Consider yourself the marriage counselor that gives the gut and the brain tools to better improve their relationship.
Keep your gut health in check by eating a high-fiber, moderate protein diet, physical exercising, and mindfulness exercises like yoga or meditation. It’s important to maintain your body’s weight so you’re not adding extra stress on the digestive tract. Also, your brain needs a break which means getting plenty of rest and reducing the stress (I know-easier said than done) . Start with some deep breathing exercises.
Too much or too little of something can wreak havoc on your body. Maintaining balance and focussing on keeping your gut and brain sync with one another encourages longevity and limited trips to the doctor.