We have all been there, had a nervous sensation before speaking in front of a large group of people, or a “pit” in the bottom of our stomachs as we started a new job with a new employer. These “gut feelings” actually have a connection to our brains. It is believed there is a second brain within the gut to handle digestion and other functions. Scientists are continuing to discover how this “second brain” and the microbiome affect our emotions, state of mind, and relation to a variety of illnesses, diseases, and conditions.
Our Feelings and Our Gut Have you ever felt so stressed out you sought comfort in a pint of ice cream or some other sugary, salty, or deep-fried food or snack? If so, this is just one aspect of our guts and brains talking to each other. When we become overly stressed, it leads to anxiety. This triggers the body’s natural “flight or fights” response and releases adrenaline into our systems. Along with the adrenaline, another hormone, called cortisol is released. Cortisol tricks the gut into thinking it is hungry, even though you are not. Until the stress is reduced and brought back down to more manageable levels, the body continues to release cortisol. For someone, who is highly stressed, this can result in overeating, or what many of us refer to as “stress eating,” as a means to address the stress. Our Mood and Our Gut Besides stress, other emotions and moods we experience have a direct link to our guts. For instance, if we are overly excited, we are full of energy as the gut works to release energy and burn calories. On the other hand, if we are feeling sad or depressed, our gut functions can slow down or could cause the gut to become upset where we have a “sour” or “burning” feeling in our gut, or experience nausea. Conditions of the Gut Many types of gastrointestinal medical conditions, like GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), gluten intolerance, dairy intolerance, and food sensitivities are believed to be directly related to various types of disorders some people suffer from including anxiety, autism, depression, and ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder). In people suffering from these conditions, the makeup of their gut microbiome is different, compared to people without these disorders. Fortunately, there are natural remedies available to help change how the microbiome functions and restore order to the gut and improve its connection with your brain. To start, you also want to aim to incorporate these three power foods to rebalance gut function and microbiome. Probiotics:
These foods contain pre & probiotics to promote healthy gut flora and prevent the overgrowth of harmful or unwanted organisms. They also assess proper digestion and bowel formation. Bitters:
Arugula & dandelion
These foods, because of their bitter properties, promote natural gentle cleansing of the body via liver stimulation and stimulate your rest and digest nervous system for proper digestive function Cleansing:
Processed meats, prepared foods, sauces, etc
Avoiding processed foods and following a healthy, non-processed diet will change the functioning of the microbiome and gut. As an added bonus, you reduce your risks for diabetes, obesity, and other conditions. Of course, the best place to learn how to address concerns over your own brain-gut connection is to schedule a visit with a qualified health professional. Schedule a consult with Dr. Courtney Holmberg, ND to learn how naturopathic medicine can rebalance your gut for good. Book online or call 647-351-7282 today!