When it comes to your moods, decisions and behavior, the brain in your head isn’t the only one doing the thinking…For instance, you overslept and missed an important meeting at work and now your boss is furious with you. Come lunchtime, you can’t seem to control the impulse and push your salad aside for the cake in the break room. At times of stress, the brain encourages us to seek out comfort foods to make us feel better. However, what you probably don’t know is that the real culprit may not be the brain inside your head, but your other brain.
That’s right folks, your other brain.
Your body contains a separate nervous system that is so complex it has been named the second brain, or the enteric nervous system (ENS). The ENS is embedded in the wall of the gut and has been known to control digestion. Interestingly, the second brain doesn’t only control digestion, but it can also influence our emotions through the nerves in the gut. For example, the hormones (dopamine and serotonin) usually associated with your primary brain can also be released by your second brain (the gut). Think about when you have butterflies in your stomach- this is a physiological response to stress from the gut. Michael Gershon, M.D. at Columbia University states,
“Your gut actually produces more hormones than any other part of your body, and it’s responsible for 95 percent of your supply of mood-stabilizing serotonin.”
In lay terms, this means that if your gut is not optimally functioning, you could endure copious amounts of emotional distress. Gershon states that digestive problems can create mental anxiety; however, new research shows that people with emotional anguish can actually develop a problematic gut. About 70% of women suffer from gastrointestinal (GI) problems. The idea is that the issue could initiate in your mind, or on the contrary, what you consume and put into your stomach could alter your state of mind.
There are millions of bacteria that reside in your gut, about 3 pounds to be specific, which aid in digesting food, regulating hormones, excreting toxins and producing vitamins to keep your body healthy. The foods commonly consumed today (junk food, processed food, alcohol, medications) are not fueling these healthy bacteria to flourish and properly function, therefore, creating this array of GI troubles, leading to inflammation and infection. At BalancingEnergy, we have a gut-friendly diet plan that can heal the gut by swapping the junk for microflora-nourishing foods and supplements. (Fiber, in particular, fortifies microflora.) With time and dedication, your gut can easily be healed and restored back to balance.