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The impact of the gut-brain axis on welfare

watch 27/10/2022

At one point or another, we've all experienced that "gut feeling" when something that didn't feel quite right or similarly felt right. The role of the gut in health and well-being has become more than just […]

At one point or another, we've all experienced that "gut feeling" when something that didn't feel quite right or similarly felt right. The role of the gut in health and well-being has become more than just digesting food.

Our gut is home to millions of bacteria and other microorganisms that help us digest food, fight infections, and even keep our moods in balance. But modern lifestyles can throw off the natural balance of these microscopic organisms, causing an imbalance known as dysbiosis.

The gut-brain axis is bidirectional, so communication goes both ways. When we don't feel well mentally or physically, this can affect what happens in our gut. When our stress levels go up too often, it can trigger a fight-or-flight response, crippling digestion. The good news is that we can take steps to maintain healthy stress levels by making time each day for relaxing and self-care activities like exercise, meditation, and yoga.

Vagus . signals and nerves

Our gut and brain are in constant communication. It is a two-way street where our brain sends signals to the stomach and receives signals from it. It's like a phone game – your brain tells your gut what to do, and your gut tells your brain what it needs.

The Vagus nerve is one of our largest cranial nerves, running between your stomach and neck. It is believed to be the main communication pathway that allows for a two-way transmission between your gut bacteria and your brain's neurotransmitter. The gut is nicknamed the “second brain” because its functions are so complex – it even has a nervous system known as the enteric nervous system!

How are beneficial microorganisms in our gut affected?

Some of our greatest tools of happiness are our daily chores and what we find satisfying during our week, not only in terms of our daily diet but also in our environment.

The greatest tool for overall happiness we have and can do, comes from our diet and environment, like taking time for ourselves, exercising, and socializing. Our daily lives impact the two-way gut-brain pathway, so making sure we're consistent with what we indulge in on a daily or weekly basis has profound health benefits. broad, including our gut health.

Sleep, stress and diet all play an important role in our overall gut health from healthy neurotransmitter production, release and nervous system health being the main factors. important factor and plays a part in brain pathways to efficiency and happiness.

Why does stress affect our gut health more?

The gut-brain axis is also connected to many other pathways in the body, such as the hypothalamic-pituitary axis, known as the HPA axis. The HPA backbone is responsible for how we respond to stress, largely governing our stress response in the body. Factors such as acute or chronic environmental or emotional stress, lack of sleep and nutritional deficiencies, can all help activate this pathway and release stress hormones. Stress-related conditions such as adrenal insufficiency or burnout can result from over-activating this pathway, leading to burnout and chronic fatigue-like symptoms.

Whole body effects of the gut-brain pathway

Everyone's gut microbiome is unique and individual to them like a fingerprint. Our gut microbes not only interact with pleasant brain neurotransmitters via the gut-brain pathway but also with our entire nervous system and immune cell activity, creating giving it the ability to impact our entire health, from mental health to immune health.

There is a cross-talk with other pathways such as the HPA axis pathway and the gut-hepatic pathway that influence our stress response and body health. Taking care of our gut, obviously also helps to take care of our whole being for optimal health, fitness and recovery. Besides acting as an innate daily support for mood, stress, healthy skin, digestion and healthy brain function so you feel like the best version of yourself.

Hunger and stomach signals

When we are hungry, the body releases Leptin, the hormone that stimulates appetite. When we are sad or sad, this is also included in a message and is sent along the brain axis and is communicated. This may have to do with the fact that in times of stress we can often seek out a certain food or some people may lose their appetite. Or some people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) when stressed or upset, may report worse symptoms or become more sensitive to foods during stress. There is a connection in developing a complex relationship with food as we see with emotional eating, as it is common to crave your favorite foods or eat more while upset. Or when you're feeling sluggish, it's easy to eat your favorite comfort foods or turn to too much caffeine and sugary foods to boost your health.

Our emotional state affects how we digest food. Eating when you are upset or stressed can cause indigestion because our bodies are so focused on stress. While you are stressed and in battle or airplane mode, you cannot prioritize digestion because you are no longer in a resting and digesting state. For optimal digestion, we want to activate the digestive and resting systems (parasympathetic nervous system) that are activated when we are relaxed, as opposed to the flight or fight system (parasympathetic nervous system). ).

Key lessons learned:

If you want to support your health and focus on the brain axis, here are some steps to take.

  • Make sure you take time to rest and relax, focusing on calming your body..
    • Read our blog on self-care #here
  • Support your gut through a nutritious diet
    • Read more about gut health on our blog #here
  • Focus on optimal digestion
    • Read our blog on digestion #here
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