The gut-brain connection

The gut-brain connection
Ever had that “gut feeling” something wasn’t quite right? That’s your brain and gut interacting, a real phenomenon that occurs through the vagus nerve, the longest cranial nerve in the body that runs from the brain, down the spinal cord to the gut reaching out and touching most organs along the way.

The enteric nervous system of the body connects the brain with the stomach through a pathway of over 100 million nerves of which the vagus nerve is at the centre. This specific part of the nervous system, also referred to as the gut-brain axis, controls both our “gut-brain” and our “big brain”.

How the gut-brain axis works

The gut-brain axis is a bi-directional pathway that keeps the brain and the gut in constant contact with each other, sending signals when either the brain or the stomach is upset. This means that emotional distress can upset your digestive system and an upset digestive system can cause emotional upset.

The gut and brain communicate through chemicals synthesised by the brain called neurotransmitters. The key neurotransmitters adrenaline, noradrenaline, dopamine and serotonin influence body functions such as nutrient absorption, the body’s immune system as well as healthy gut flora, also known as the microbiome. 

Many neurotransmitters responsible for maintaining our mental health are actually produced in the gut by either gut cells or by the gut microbes. In fact, the gut produces 90% of our serotonin, also known as our “happy hormone”[1] as well as more than 50% of dopamine, our “pleasure-seeking hormone”[2].  There’s also around 400 times more melatonin, our “sleep hormone”, in the gastrointestinal tract than in the pineal gland[3], the main gland responsible for producing this sleep-loving brain chemical.

Given these overwhelming statistics, it’s no surprise that when our gut microbiome is out of balance, this can have a direct effect on both our mood and sleep.

Supporting the gut-brain axis with diet

A healthy diet plays a significant role in the health of the gut, with a healthy microbiome directly tied to healthy dietary patterns including frequent amounts of high-fibre fruits and vegetables, healthy fats including those high in omega-3s, as well as quality protein sources.

Nutrition also influences the communication along the gut-brain axis, further affecting the links between the gastrointestinal tract and the nervous system.

Healthy gut happy you

A healthy gut is a priority if you’re looking at ways to manage your overall general health and wellbeing. Probiotics are a beneficial way to help restore beneficial gut flora to help get an imbalanced gut back on track. Probiotics are living bacteria that can survive the digestive process and the highly acidic environment of the gut and colonise in the intestinal environment where they exert their affect.

Herbs can also be beneficial for overall gut health, supporting the healthy mucous membrane linings of the digestive tract while also soothing any irritated tissue and supporting healthy digestive system function.

Herbs of Gold Gut Care is a comprehensive herbal and nutritional formula supporting gastrointestinal health. Gut Care Gut Care contains Aloe vera and Licorice to maintain healthy mucous linings in the digestive system, Calendula, traditionally used in Western herbal medicine as an anti-inflammatory to help relieve mild gastrointestinal tract inflammation as well as L-Glutamine and zinc, supporting healthy digestive and immune system function.

 

To compliment this product, consider Herbs of Gold Probiotic + SB. Providing a combination of probiotic bacteria and Saccharomyces boulardii (SB), Herbs of Gold Probiotic + SB helps maintain healthy intestinal flora and digestive system function. The probiotics in this product have been chosen for their ability to survive stomach acid and therefore reach the intestines, where they colonise.

 

[1] Banskota, S., Ghia, J. E., & Khan, W. I. (2019). Serotonin in the gut: Blessing or a curse. Biochimie161, 56–64.

[2] Chen, Y., Xu, J., & Chen, Y. (2021). Regulation of neurotransmitters by the gut microbiota and effects on cognition in [….]. Nutrients13(6), 2099.

[3] Bubenik G. A. (2002). Gastrointestinal melatonin: localisation, function, and clinical relevance. Digestive […] and Sciences47(10), 2336–2348.

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