Rewire Your Gut Brain Connection

Rewire Your Gut-Brain Connection



Did you know you have a second brain also? There is so much science behind how the human body works and we know so less about it. Our body is a remarkably interconnected system, with various organs working together to keep us functioning well. One extraordinary connection that has gained significant attention in recent years is the gut-brain connection.


The gut is often referred to as the “second brain,” as it houses millions of neurons and an intricate network known as the enteric nervous system (ENS). This article explores the fascinating world of your second brain and how to rewire your Gut-Brain connection for improved physical and mental health.

What is Gut-Brain Connection or Gut-Brain Axis?


The gut-brain or gut-brain-gut connection refers to the “two-way” communication network between our gut and our brain. It involves complex interactions between the central nervous system (CNS) that is our brain and spinal cord and the ENS, which is the lining of the gut or gastrointestinal tract. The two systems are connected to each other through a network of nerves, chemical messengers, and hormones.


The ENS, often called the “second brain,” controls various digestive processes independently of the brain. It is called the “second brain” as it plays a crucial role in regulating gut functions, such as digestion, absorption, and movement of food, as well as influencing our overall well-being and mental state. Apart from regulating the gut, the ENS can also influence our mood, emotions, and mental health, that is because it produces and releases neurotransmitters, including serotonin, dopamine, and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA).

Factors Affecting the Gut-Brain Connection

Whatever can affect your gut can influence the gut-brain connection as well, including diet, stress, lifestyle choices, medications, and the composition of the gut microbiota. Yes! Bacteria are important to us. A healthy gut microbiota or gut flora consisting of a diverse community of microorganisms, particularly beneficial bacteria, is vital for maintaining a balanced gut-brain axis.


Whenever this gut microbiota is imbalanced, it results in various physical and mental health issues, such as gastrointestinal disorders, mood disorders, and cognitive impairments. As we can’t control all the factors affecting this connection, it becomes crucial to rewire the gut-brain connection to promote optimal health and well-being.

Tips to Rewire Your Gut-Brain Connection


1. Switch to a Gut-Friendly Diet: First and foremost a diet rich in fiber, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables supports a healthy gut microbiota. These foods provide essential nutrients so that the beneficial bacteria can grow. Additionally, fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi can colonize your gut with beneficial probiotics, enhancing its overall health.


2. Manage Stress: Chronic stress can disrupt the gut-brain connection by increasing gut barrier permeability and allowing the bacteria to lead into circulation. Start doing some stress-reducing activities such as meditation, yoga, deep breathing exercises, or regular physical exercise. These practices help regulate stress hormones, improve digestion, and support a healthy gut-brain axis.


3. Prioritize Sleep: Less sleep disturbs your gut-brain axis by two mechanisms, firstly by increasing your mental and physical stress, and secondly, by making you more prone to eat sugary foods that lead to the overgrowth of harmful bacteria inside. Sufficient and quality sleep is essential for maintaining a healthy gut-brain connection. Aim for 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night to promote overall well-being and gut health.


4. Probiotic and Prebiotic Supplementation: one easy way to rewire your gut-brain axis is to consider taking probiotic supplements containing beneficial strains of bacteria. Prebiotic supplements, which provide nourishment to the existing gut bacteria, can also be beneficial. However, consult with a healthcare professional before starting any supplementation.


5. Regular Exercise: Physical activity not only benefits your body but also positively influences your gut and brain. Regular exercise helps you fight “dysbiosis” which is an imbalance of your gut flora. Exercise also improves blood sugar levels again promoting the growth of healthy bacteria. Engage in moderate-intensity exercises like walking, jogging, or cycling for at least 30 minutes a day. Regular exercise also promotes better digestion, improves mood, and enhances cognitive function.


6. Practice Mindful Eating: The cephalic phase digestive response (CPDR) is a crucial phenomenon that aids in effective digestion. By practicing mindful eating, you can synchronize your mind and body’s CPDR system, facilitating the breakdown of food and absorption of vital nutrients. Slow down and savor each bite during meals. This mindful eating practice helps improve digestion and allows you to be more aware of your body’s signals of hunger and fullness.

Common conditions treatable by rewiring your Gut-Brain Connection


Gastrointestinal Disorders


Rewiring to a healthy gut-brain axis can significantly help fight against various disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Studies have shown that alterations in the gut microbiota and disrupted gut-brain communication play a role in the development and progression of these conditions. By rebalancing the gut microbiota through dietary changes, probiotic supplementation, and stress management techniques, individuals with gastrointestinal disorders may experience relief from symptoms and improved overall gut health.


Metabolic Disorders or other co-morbid conditions


Conditions such as obesity, metabolic syndrome, and even type 2 diabetes have been associated with alterations in the gut microbiota and compromised gut-brain communication. By adopting a gut-friendly diet, rich in fiber and whole foods, and incorporating regular physical activity, individuals can positively influence their gut health and potentially improve metabolic parameters. There are studies that suggest that specific probiotic strains and prebiotic supplementation may offer therapeutic benefits in managing metabolic disorders.


Mood And Behavioural Disorders


Our gut can make significant changes in how we behave. The bidirectional communication between the gut and brain has a consequential impact on mental health. Conditions such as anxiety, depression, and even certain aspects of autism spectrum disorders have been linked to an imbalanced gut microbiota and disrupted gut-brain signaling. Through rewiring to a healthy gut-brain axis, in the above-mentioned ways, it may be possible to alleviate symptoms and enhance mental well-being.


Neurodegenerative Diseases


Emerging evidence suggests a connection between the gut-brain axis and neurodegenerative diseases (conditions in which there is continuing loss of neuronal structure or function) like Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Studies have shown that changes in gut microbiota composition and impaired gut-brain signaling may contribute to the pathogenesis of these conditions. You can delay the progression or mitigate the severity of neurodegenerative diseases by promoting healthy gut microbiota and supporting optimal gut-brain communication.


Autoimmune Conditions


While we still don’t know the exact mechanisms behind this but evidence suggests that gut dysbiosis and altered gut-brain signaling may contribute to the development and/or progression of certain Auto-immune conditions. The gut-brain axis has shown potential relevance in autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and inflammatory bowel diseases. Modulating the gut microbiota through dietary interventions, probiotics, and other gut-supportive strategies may help regulate immune responses and alleviate symptoms in autoimmune conditions.


The Bottom Line

The intricate interplay between the human gastrointestinal system and the central nervous system presents a captivating realm within the realm of human biology. Understanding and actively seeking to reconfigure this connection holds the potential to profoundly impact our physical and mental well-being.


By embracing a diet that promotes gut health, effectively managing stress levels, prioritizing restorative sleep, engaging in regular physical activity, and exploring the advantages of supplementation, we can contribute to nurturing a resilient gut-brain axis. Through these proactive measures, one can tap into the inherent potency of the “second brain” and unlock a newfound realm of vitality and holistic wellness.

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