Gut-Brain Connection: How the Gut Affects the Brain
It’s the New Year and everyone has health on their mind. Hence our discussion on the gut-brain connection.
This is also why I put this ad in the January Wellness Issue of the local Scout Cambridge magazine…
In my efforts to help people become happier and healthier, I often am teaching them about the connection between food and mood.
What? You say…”How I eat affects how I feel?”
To which I say a resounding
When I have this discussion with people I often get the question…
What is the research on this?
To which I then respond with
“There is tons. Google gut-brain connection and you will see.”
Yup even on the Harvard Medical School website there is an article on the gut brain connection. And you know if it’s on the Harvard website then it MUST be true!
Familiarity breeds a sense of safety: as if there is a concrete, solid foundation under our feet that will never change. For as much time as “thinking outside the box” gets thrown around in language, new ideas seem strange and scary. The unknown is a scary place to be; I get that very well. It is very common for people to fear change. This my friends, is the challenge in being such a renegade that you would dare to speak to people about nutrition when meeting for psychotherapy.
Interestingly all the major clinics are getting on board with this research. Just like Harvard, you will find many of the major institutions across the US with information on their sites about the gut-brain connection. Dr. Mark Hymanis now on board at the Cleveland Clinic where he is doing research as a functional medicine doctor.
We could go deep into the discussion as to why this information appears absent within mental health treatment when the research is widely accepted at all the major institutions…this would then take us down the rabbit hole of discovery of all the evils in America and that, my friends, will not make us any healthier or happier.
Instead, let’s talk about what the gut-brain connection actually is. The research is on the gut bacteria or what is known as the gut microbiome. The research shows that the microbiome is connected to the brain through the vagus nerve which is one of the main cranial nerves. The vagus nerve goes from behind the eyes, to the heart and then through the digestive organs and lands in the enteric nervous system (ENS) in the gut. The ENS has become known as the second brain and is said to be smarter than the brain we over use in our head. It is responsible for the gut instinct or intuition.
WHAT? You say…..(wondering what the hell I am talking about in saying that something in the body is wiser than the brain!)
Cue this cute little video which says it all clearly…
No one is diminishing the value of the intellect. I have always loved learning and been a life long achievement driven gal.
But just think about it….
Have you ever had a light dawning realization that came from having a FEELING about something even though the facts didn’t make the feeling logical at all?
Of course you have!
This happens anytime we take a risk or follow our heart. The ENS or second brain is speaking louder than the brain in your head. Before you know it you have taken that step towards your heart’s desires almost before your brain could tell you that you are insane!
This is your intuition.
When we over use our brains for decision making and/or when we are going through some digestive upset, it totally throws off our ability to access our intuition.
Why does this matter?
If the gut is wiser than the brain and you are used to making decisions from a logical, linear place, than you are missing a TON of information! Foreign concept but very true.
Living from your gut means you are living from your heart.
Also the gut is the warehouse for 90-95% of the serotonin in the body. People who struggle with depression are prescribed medications which work on the serotonin neurotransmitters in the brain but if that is not where most of the serotonin is produced and stored than it would appear that we are very much missing the boat. The CDC reports that between the years 1988-2008, there was a 400% increase in the prescriptions of anti-depressants. This is no small problem.
People who are depressed often feel disconnected from their heart as well as from society. They can lack energy, hope, drive, often are over eating or have diminished appetite, have thoughts of suicide and are basically failing to thrive. That sounds to me like someone who is struggling to live from their gut and heart, right? Most of the clients I have seen that struggle with symptoms of depression also end up sharing that they have issues with digestion. The same is true for clients with anxiety.
This article in the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology and Neuroscience discusses the gut-brain axis and it’s connection to depression. People who are depressed are often mimicking the same EXACT symptoms of someone who is struggling with food allergies. The same can be said for anxiety and other mental health issues.
I have experienced the dramatic shifts in my own mental health once I dealt with food allergies and changed my diet.
It would seem to me that we have a big secret being kept from people that is negatively impacting the health of Americans. There is no doubt about it, the Standard American Diet, or SAD as it is called for short, has been dramatically impacting our mental as well as physical health.
Being one of the only practioners in my area that has both the training in nutrition and psychotherapy and who is actively creating a therapy practiced based in holistic health is not an easy feat. That being said, I see people week and week out getting healthier and happier by continuing to increase their commitment to their own health. And that my friends…
Makes me healthy and happy!
Want more info on how you can work with me to help increase your own health and happiness? Contact me to discuss further.
Oh my God! This is revolutionary! Thank you so much for spreading the word!
Oh you are so sweet! I am so happy you found it so helpful! You touched my heart with your comment. Be well:)
[…] our discussion Gut-Brain Connection: How the Gut Affects the Brain we talked about the research on the gut microbiome and how it shows that the our diet plays a […]