You may not be aware that you actually have two nervous systems:
- Central nervous system, composed of your brain and spinal cord
- Enteric nervous system, which is the intrinsic nervous system of your gastrointestinal tract
Both are created from identical tissue during fetal development—one part turns into your central nervous system while the other develops into your enteric nervous system. These two systems are connected via the vagus nerve, the tenth cranial nerve that runs from your brain stem down to your abdomen. It is now well established that the vagus nerve is the primary route your gut bacteria use to transmit information to your brain.
While many think of their brain as the organ in charge, your gut actually sends far more information to your brain than your brain sends to your gut… To put this into more concrete terms, you’ve probably experienced the visceral sensation of butterflies in your stomach when you’re nervous, or had an upset stomach when you were very angry or stressed. The flip side is also true, in that problems in your gut can directly impact your mental health, leading to issues like anxiety and depression.
For instance, in December 2011, the Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility3 reported the novel finding that the probiotic (good bacteria) known as Bifidobacterium longum NCC3001 has been shown to help normalize anxiety-like behavior in mice with infectious colitis. Separate research4 also found the probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus had a marked effect on GABA (an inhibitory neurotransmitter that is significantly involved in regulating many physiological and psychological processes) levels in certain brain regions and lowered the stress-induced hormone corticosterone, resulting in reduced anxiety- and depression-related behavior.
Just as you have neurons in your brain, you also have neurons in your gut — including neurons that produce neurotransmitters like serotonin, which is also found in your brain. In fact, the greatest concentration of serotonin, which is involved in mood control, depression and aggression, is found in your intestines, not your brain. It’s quite possible that this might be one reason why antidepressants, which raise serotonin levels in your brain, are often ineffective in treating depression, whereas proper dietary changes often help. –full article can be read at http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/06/20/gut-brain-connection.aspx
How to Optimize Your Gut Flora
Considering the fact that an estimated 80 percent of your immune system is located in your gut, reseeding your gut with healthy bacteria is important for the prevention of virtually ALL diseases, from colds to cancer. To do so, I recommend the following strategies:
- Avoid processed, refined foods in your diet, including sugar and reducing high glycemic index foods.
- Eat traditionally fermented, unpasteurized foods: Fermented foods are the best route to optimal digestive health, as long as you eat the traditionally made, unpasteurized versions. Some of the beneficial bacteria found in fermented foods are also excellent chelators of heavy metals and pesticides, which will also have a beneficial health effect by reducing your toxic load. Healthy choices include:
- Fermented vegetables
- Lassi (an Indian yoghurt drink, traditionally enjoyed before dinner)
- Fermented milk, such as kefir
- Natto (fermented soy)
Ideally, you want to eat a variety of fermented foods to maximize the variety of bacteria you’re consuming. Fermented vegetables, which are one of my new passions, are an excellent way to supply beneficial bacteria back into our gut. And, unlike some other fermented foods, they tend to be palatable, if not downright delicious, to most people.
- Take a high-quality probiotic supplement if you don’t eat fermented foods on a regular basis.
Plexus has an outstanding probiotic which contains natural digestive enzymes and an anti-fungal to kill that tough yeast and fungus in the gut. Healthy gut = a healthy brain.
Make healthy changes to your gut by making dietary changes and adding Probio5 daily. Probio5 costs less that $30 a day and makes a world of difference in how you feel. To purchase Probio5, please visit my website at: http://www.shopmyplexus.com/LisaJSchuster