“The Belly Rules the Mind”

Recently I was in one of my favorite healthy quick food restaurants called The Chickpea in West Palm Beach. While I was belly rules mindwaiting in line I noticed they painted above the kitchen, “The Belly Rules the Mind”.  I thought as simple as that is, it was quite profound, and wondered if they had any idea how true that statement really is.

 

So I’d like to share with you just a few ways the belly literally rules the mind. I feel this is important for you to understand the connection between gut health and mood, anxiety, depression, ability to focus, and having high energy. This way when you are experiencing some of these things like anxiety, depression or brain fog, you have an idea where to look first. (Always the belly!)

I like to describe the digestive system or the gut, as the front door to every other system in the body. This is where all of our precious nutrients are absorbed and the majority of wastes are disposed. When this system is not functioning in harmony, it will affect every system from our immunity, to our joints, our liver and brain function.

Matter a fact, the gut has a direct link with the brain and communicates via one of the largest nerves in the body called the Vagus nerve. Many call the gut the ‘second brain’, and is technically known as the Enteric Nervous System.

You know the feeling in your belly you get when you are really excited? It feels like butterflies. Or when you get really nervous or scared, may feel like you are going to poop your pants! These are good examples of this connection. However, the gut actually sends more neurological signals back to the brain then the brain sends to the gut.

“The Belly Rules the Mind”    The Ecosystem Inside our Belly!

Believe it or not, our bodies are made up of 10 times more of bacteria then human cells. That’s a pleasant thought to wrap your mind around. Most of which reside in the gut, the lower part of the digestive tract. About 100 trillion of them actually, and collectively is called your microbiome. They have a lot of important jobs, like protecting the gut lining from pathogens being absorbed into the blood, keeping our immunity strong, giving us the ability to properly digest and absorb nutrients, and is critical in brain cognition.

There is an intricate balance however between the good and bad bacteria. (This is why we take probiotics). The bad bacteria feeds on sugar and creates gas, bloating, constipation and a toxic internal environment when out of balance. Do you ever struggle with strong sugar cravings? This bacteria is so strong, that it will scream for sugar, demanding it to your brain leaving you to battle unruly craving that willpower isn’t a match for.

As this imbalance escalates, the gut lining can be impaired and will start to absorb molecules that it’s not supposed to into the blood stream, like undigested food particles, toxins and pathogens. This creates an immediate inflammatory response that can quietly build up over time. Over 70% of our immune system resides on our intestinal lining to patrol this process.

When the Gut is Toxic, so is the Mind...

Why is this all relevant to the brain? The gut lining contains about 100 million neurons that communicate to the brain!

In addition to that, the gut produces more neurotransmitters then the brain does. Neurotransmitters and chemical messengers in the brain like serotonin and dopamine as well as others. They stimulate the brain for communication. Neurotransmitters control our ability to feel good and be happy verses depressed and anxious, behavior, ability to focus, deal with stress or pain and sway our moods. It’s estimated that 90% of serotonin is produced in the gut and is influenced by bacteria!

So you can imagine when the gut is inflamed, backed up with wastes and toxins and driven by the bad bacteria, how this may affect the neurons and neurotransmitters in the brain. Or even just a slight imbalance in gut microbes

Yet still, gut health is overlooked and often irritated when treating depression and chemical imbalances.  “antidepressant medications called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) increase serotonin levels, it’s little wonder that meds meant to cause chemical changes in the mind often provoke GI issues as a side effect.” States Adam Hadhazy from Scientific American.

In my opinion, the first place to look when feeling anxiety, depression, inability to focus and low energy is optimizing digestion and gut health. Remember I stated in the beginning that it is like the front door to every other system in the body.

Stay tuned for my next article “The Belly Rules the Mind” squeal, “3 Ways to Nourish to a Healthy Belly for a Happy Mind”

Let's Stay in Touch!

Join our Community and stay connected with quick healthy tips and tricks, fresh blogs, special invites and our latest Free eBook!

We value your privacy and would never spam you

If you would like support in optimizing digestive and gut health for brain health, energy, focus mood and overall wellness, I would like to invite to a no obligation ‘Healthy Gut Happy Mind Strategy Session’. Here we will privately discuss how your digestive health may be getting in the way of your ability to maintain weight, energy, focus and overall wellness, as well as plan your next step in your journey towards optimal digestion. Click on the image below to schedule your session now.

Strategy Session

 

Sources & recommended reading:

Think Twice: How the Guts “Second Brain” Influences Mood and Wellbeing
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/gut-second-brain/

That Gut Feeling by Dr Siri Carpenter in The American Psychological Association
http://www.apa.org/monitor/2012/09/gut-feeling.aspx

Gut Microbes Important for Serotonin Production by Catharine Paddock, PhD in Medical News Today
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/292693.php