Did you know that your gut is extremely powerful over your brain? The gut-brain connection (also known as the gut-brain axis) affects your health much more than you know. Scientists are still researching the phenomenon, but there is a lot that they do know about the connection.
Many scientists have begun calling the gut your “second brain,” since your gut communicates with your brain in a multitude of ways including via neurotransmitters, hormones, and our immune system. There also is a way you can take our gut-brain axis into your own hands and take control of bettering your gut and brain health. Now that’s some food for thought! Keep reading to learn more about the gut-brain axis, how it affects your nervous system, and ways you can change your gut health.
The Gut-Brain Axis
The gut-brain axis is the communication pathway between your gut and brain. Your digestive system and brain are essentially connected physically and chemically in your body. Inside of your gut, you have microbiota, which is a community of about 1,000 types of bacteria. Some of the bacteria are healthy and help us fight disease and improve your gut health, while other bacteria can be harmful, fostering disease and unhealthy cravings. According to Medical News Today, each of us has a microbiota, unique to us, that aids in digestion, energy, transfer of vitamins, behavior, and intake of nutrients.
The Nervous System and Gut Relationship
The vagus nerve is the biggest nerve in the body. Among other things, it connects your gut and your brain, regulating digestion and processing information from your brain to your stomach and intestines. One study suggests that the vagus nerve is extremely important in our gut makeup. The study also shows that the relationship between your vagus nerve and gut can affect your stress levels.
Do you know those gut reactions you experience? The ones where you can just feel the butterflies in your stomach or you just “have a feeling” about something that affects your emotional state? Well, just as our brain connects to our autonomic nervous system to allow smooth digestion, it also connects your emotions and feelings you experience through neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are also produced in your gut and act as messengers, sending signals throughout the body and affecting your behavior. According to Jolene Park CN, CHC, RYT 200, 80% of serotonin, the chemical that regulates your mood, can be found in a healthy gut.
Obesity and Food Addiction
As we have explained, your gut microbiota is responsible for a number of actions produced by your brain and gut. The microbiota is extremely powerful in your eating behaviors as well. It is responsible for hunger and satiety signals that are produced from your gut to our brain. As scientific studies suggest, your gut microbiota has been associated with your brain’s structure, which shows distinct differences in the structure of those who are obese and those who are lean.
How May Xen Affect Unhealthy Cravings?
Xen was invented by a top surgeon and accomplished inventor who was passionate about enhancing people’s lives through wellness technology. Xen delivers gentle electrical signals to your vagus nerve, stimulating it and promoting a deeper state of relaxation. Vagus nerve stimulation may lower stress and help you replace unhealthy cravings with positive thoughts, making it easier to avoid the negative things you crave.
Foods That Promote a Healthy Gut-Brain Axis
According to Uma Naidoo, MD, there are things you can do to change the bacteria in your gut. She suggests eating healthy foods, such as those below, can help give you a healthier gut:
- Eat whole foods and avoid packaged or processed foods, which are high in unwanted food additives and preservatives that disrupt the healthy bacteria in the gut.
- Instead of vegetable or fruit juice, consider increasing your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables. Frozen fruits without added sugars/additives are a good choice too.
- Eat enough fiber and include whole grains and legumes in your diet.
- Include probiotic-rich foods such as plain yogurt without added sugars.
- To reduce sugar intake at breakfast, add cinnamon to plain yogurt with berries, or to oatmeal or chia pudding.
- Adding fermented foods such as kefir (unsweetened), sauerkraut, or kimchi can be helpful to maintain a healthy gut.
- Eat a balance of seafood and lean poultry, and less red meat each week.
- Add a range of colorful fresh fruits and vegetables to your diet, and consider choosing certain organic produce.
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