What if I told you that your gut is your second brain? Your gut and brain communicate through your nervous system, immune system and hormones. When you’re in “fight or flight” mode, your gut stops or slows digestion. This is to save energy for self-defense. “Butterflies in your stomach” result from being excited or nervous. Similarly, gastrointestinal issues can make you anxious or depressed.
What Is Your Second Brain Made Of?
Your gut includes your esophagus, stomach, small intestines, large intestines, gallbladder, liver and pancreas. There are 39 trillion viruses, fungi and bacteria living in these organs. These harmful or beneficial cells comprise your microbiome.
How Do Your Brain and Gut Communicate?
Your brain is connected to your gut through the vagus nerve. Neurotransmitters and hormones pass messages back and forth. Together your brain and gut control your mood, immune response, heart rate and digestion.
Why Is A Healthy Diet Important?
Because your gut is your second brain, it is important to eat a balanced and nutritious diet. A plant-based diet with few refined carbs and little or no red meat is optimal for your microbiome. Eating vegetables, fruit, whole grains, lean meats and fish is beneficial. This will ensure that your microbiome is healthy and diverse. Avoiding processed foods, sugar, soft drinks and fried foods is best.
A nutritious diet is important for your immunity. Your microbiome regulates your immune response. When your gut is happy, there is positive feedback to your brain. When your gut is upset, it can cause negative thoughts and emotions.
How Can You Make Sure Your Second Brain Is Happy?
Make sure to include prebiotics and probiotics in your diet. Prebiotics are foods which help the good bacteria in your gut grow. They include onions, garlic, bananas, asparagus, tomatoes, apples and berries. Probiotics are beneficial live bacteria found in certain foods. These foods include apple cider vinegar, miso soup and yogurt.
Prebiotic and probiotic supplements are also available. Antibiotics kill both the good and bad bacteria in your microbiome. For this reason, it is important to use them only when necessary.
Why Is a Healthy Microbiome Important?
Eating a balanced diet and limiting antibiotics can prevent gut inflammation. Why is this important? Your microbiome determines whether you become anxious, depressed or tired. It also determines your response to pain. New research focuses on the link between your microbiome and heart disease, Alzheimer’s, autism, Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis.
What you eat affects your gut and your brain. Relaxation techniques, such as exercise and meditation, also benefit both your gut and your brain. Stress, anxiety and depression can begin in either of your “brains” and be communicated to the other. Physicians are treating mental health and gastro-intestinal illnesses in more and more interconnected ways.
Your gut and brain work together to regulate your health and wellbeing. Together they control your mood, energy, metabolism and immunity. While it is becoming more and more apparent, we have always known it. That’s why we say “it takes guts”, “follow your gut” or it was a “gut-wrenching” experience.
For optimal health, you need to listen to your microbiome as well as your mind. Working together, your brain and gut are a most powerful source of well-being. The Fitness Coaches at Golden Home Fitness can help tailor a diet and exercise program that works best for you. For your free in-person or virtual workout click here.
__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________Hopkinsmedicine.org; mhanational.org; frontiersin.org; health.harvard.edu; my.clevelandclinic.org; sciencefocus.com; sciencedirect.com