Your Second Brain
Have you ever had a “gut feeling” about something? Well, it turns out you may want to pay attention to that feeling because researchers now consider the gut to be the “second brain” of the human body!
It turns out there are more than 100 million neurons in your intestinal system. Referred to as the “enteric nervous system,” this brain in the gut acts very similarly to the brain in the head. The gut can receive impulses, record experiences, and respond to emotions.
The Micro-Biome and Neurotransmitters
The 100 million neurons in the gut interact with chemicals that control their function called neurotransmitters. It turns out that a large portion of the neurotransmitters in the body are produced by bacteria in the gut! These bacteria make up what is called the micro-biome. This refers to the ecosystem of bacteria in your gut.
The micro-biome is responsible for creating up to 90% of the body’s serotonin and about 50% of the body’s dopamine. Moreover, the intestines produce and co-regulate 30 other neurotransmitters that are utilized by the central nervous system to regulate mood, stress levels, sleep patterns, mental functioning and a number of other essential body processes.
Obviously, the second brain is responsible for much more than just digestion. So maybe those gut feelings actually are giving you some valuable information! However, the true nature of this incredibly complex system is still under research.
Your Gut Affects Your Mind
A study published in Gastroenterology showed that women who were given probiotic yogurt twice a day for 4 weeks had a calmer and more controlled reaction when shown images of various facial expressions.
The bacteria in the yogurt included Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains which are found in Dr. Colbert’s Living Probiotic formula.
Other research in mice has correlated certain strains of gut bacteria with anxiety. Mice specifically raised to have no bacteria in their gut were inoculated with bacteria from the guts of anxious mice. The inoculated mice then proceeded to exhibit anxious behavior. This has huge implications in how powerfully the bacteria in our gut can affect how we feel.
Heal Your Gut, Heal Your Mind
If you or your loved ones suffer from mental disorders such as anxiety or depression, then this research is incredibly promising. By taking steps to balance and improve the health of your gut you can make positive changes in how you feel on a day-to-day basis.
Here are a few tips to help you heal your gut:
Reduce Your Added Sugar Intake – Pathogenic bacteria thrive on high sugar diets
Eat More Fermented Foods – This includes sauerkraut, yogurt, kefir, kombucha, kimchi, kvass, and raw cheese.
Eat More Healthy Fats – Coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil, and Maximum MCT oil all help subdue pathogenic bacteria. Eat your fats away from your probiotics so that you do not kill off the good guys!
Implementing these simple changes will help balance the bacterial diversity in your gut making you more mentally and physically resilient so that the next time you get a “gut feeling” you will know that you can trust it!