Did you know that you have two brains? One you already know is in your head, which is your brain. The other is in your stomach, which is known as your gut. Your brain and your gut are connected, literally. Your brain communicates to your gut and your gut communicates to your brain.
…but what does this really mean?
While many of us know or are beginning to understand just how important the development of our brain is to our overall health and well-being, we may not realize just how important our gut is too. For some, or few, this might be the reverse. Some may attribute their overall health and well-being mostly to their gut health and what they consume, and not so much to their brain. But really and truly, both matter and both work together!
so…how does this really work?
Parts of our body is made up of our nervous system. Commonly known as the central nervous system. This system is comprised of our brain and spinal cord. A less commonly known part of our nervous system is called the enteric nervous system (ENS). This system consists of our gut, which is formally known as the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Our GI tract begins where food is taken in through our esophagus, to digestion in our stomach and then expulsions. Our gut can function on its own reflexes while communicating back and forth with our brain. Both the brain and the gut’s nervous system consists of a network of nerves, neurons and neurotransmitters. (See: The Vagus Nerve). This is how it gets its name the “second brain”. They both work together to support our overall health.
Here is an example of how this brain-gut connection works.
Imagine yourself in a stressful or fearful situation. For some, this may be delivering a big presentation or encountering a frightening animal. In fearful and distressing types of situations, your brain’s central nervous system (specifically the sympathetic nervous system) is turned on and your body prepares for a fight, flight or freeze response. Simultaneously, your body’s enteric nervous system (comprising of your digestive system) begins to slow down in an effort to conserve your body’s energy to be used for the situation you are in. As you stand before others, prepared to deliver a big presentation, you may experience what is commonly known as a “butterflies in your stomach feeling” which is often a result of strong nervous, anxious, frightening or feelings of excitement, depending on the situation you are in. This is an example of how your brain affects your gut.
Experiencing persistent problems with your gut such as stomach pain or troubles with digestion can also give rise to feelings of stress and anxiety about the state of your body’s health and well-being, which in turn can have an impact on your mental health.
so listen up !
Taking good care of both your brain and gut is important. In such a way that is best for you. Ensuring you fuel your mental, physical, emotional and social well-being is key, so is being mindful about what you fuel your body with. Fueling your body with foods that support and promote the health of your gut is fundamental. This can include a balanced and nutritious diet that consists of prebiotics, which are foods that are high in fiber such as bananas, oats, apples berries. As well as probiotics, which are good bacteria that help to balance the organisms in your intestine and can be found in yogurt. (See: Gut Health 101)
How brain and gut health is ensured will look differently from person to person and that’s OK! It’s about finding a healthy balance, whether that’s in consuming specific foods or enjoying a SMOOV blend that’s just right for you!
This website is provided only for informational purposes and not intended to be used to replace professional advice, treatment or professional care. Always speak to your physician, healthcare provider or pediatrician if you have concerns about your own health or the health of a child.
5 thoughts on “Brain-Gut Connection”
I love that you explain the science facts about the brain-gut connection and then link it to a real-life situation. This helped me to understand it better! I make my own connection to the brain-gut relationship as when I am anxious or nervous about something, I don’t feel like eating. Last year I found out I had an interview the same day I got the invitation and I couldn’t eat, even after I finished; I ended up eating that day at six in the evening! My nervous system was so focused on my mental state that my gut gave up all of it’s feelings to support the heavy load up top! I never even thought about how the gut is a part of the nervous system! This article is my “learned something new” today 🙂
PS- I really enjoyed reading through your “The Vagus Nerve” note page you provide as a link. Your videos at the end are a great way to tie all of this new learning together! That Spotify list is on point 😉
I’m glad you were able to bring this all around full circle and make that connection. That was exactly your brain-gut connection at work! I’ve actually gone in and added a link to a podcast episode I came across the other day that discusses the vagus nerve ever better, and links it all to what we are experiencing with COVID. I hope you might get a chance to listen to it. I am so appreciative of you taking the time to read these articles and leave such thoughtful comments 🙂