Why Is The Gut Called The Second Brain Of The Body?
Here’s the deal: Your gut does more than just digest food effectively. The gut has a mind of its own and uses most of the body's serotonin—more than what your brain does! Serotonin is largely responsible for mood regulation but is also known to regulate appetite, fullness, digestion, and the movement of food through the digestive tract. This is why your gut is known as the second brain. It controls the majority of your bodily functions, like improving your metabolic rate, balancing your blood sugar levels, and controlling hunger, satiety, tiredness, anxiety, stress, depression, mood disorders, etc.
Read on to find out more about your second brain and how to improve gut health with prebiotic and probiotic supplements.
What Is The Gut?
The gut is a hollow tube that extends from the mouth to the anus and is roughly 9 meters long. It's made up of several organs, including the esophagus, stomach, and small and large intestines. The lining of this tube has many functions:
- To digest food
- To absorb nutrients from food
- To protect against infection
How Does The Gut Receive Information?
The gut has a connection of over 100 million nerve cells on the lining of the gastrointestinal tract, which forms the second brain or the Enteric Nervous System. ENS in your gut or the second brain communicates directly with the brain, thus forming a gut-brain connection.
Your gut and brain are connected by nerve cells called neurons and also by chemical messengers called neurotransmitters. Neurons are cells that carry messages from one part of the body to another. Chemicals called neurotransmitters are used to transfer information between neurons. For example, the gut has a mind, but it's not just a passive receiver; it also sends signals back into your body, and this is how we know it can feel emotions!
Gut bacteria also communicate with each other through chemical signals called pheromones, which are produced when they're happy or stressed out. These messages tell other bacteria in your digestive tract what to do.
Scientists have found evidence suggesting that some people may have a more sensitive gut than others, meaning their intestines react differently when something bad happens. It has been observed that stress and anxiety can cause changes in the gut. For example, have you ever felt like you were going to throw up when you were too stressed? This is because, when we are stressed and anxious, our body decides to focus all its energy on surviving the difficulty. The process of digestion is stopped since it requires energy to digest food. This is what causes us to feel the pain and discomfort in the gut.
With this understanding, we can say that it is possible to treat IBS using medicines that keep your mental status stable along with medicines that target the gut.
In a nutshell, your brain, and the second brain, your gut, can communicate with each other. Hence, your emotions affect your gut health and vice-versa.
How to Improve Gut Health?
- Manage Stress
High stress levels can affect your whole body, and your gut is no exception. You can avoid stress by eating healthy food that contains antioxidants, such as fresh fruits or dark chocolate, instead of processed snacks like chips or cookies. Other than your diet, here are some activities to limit stress: -
- Getting a massage
- Practicing yoga
- Spending time with loved ones
2. Consume Probiotics Prebiotics
Prebiotic foods include apples, bananas, yogurt, green tea, garlic, and onions. Meanwhile, yogurt, kefir, sourdough bread, or any other fermented dairy products come under probiotics. These can help keep your gut healthy.
You can opt for supplements that have a blend of six active probiotic cultures along with organic prebiotic fiber. There are also prebiotic probiotic supplements that come in the form of a strip and contain ingredients like 10 billion CFUs, a blend of digestive enzymes called papain, and more to improve digestion and prevent issues like IBS and acidity.
If you have any chronic conditions, it is best to consult your healthcare advisor for better guidance when choosing the right prebiotics and probiotic supplements.
- Limit Your Alcohol Consumption
Alcohol impairs natural digestion by preventing the formation of digestive enzymes and juices. Additionally, drinking too much alcohol damages the inner lining of the gut by causing inflammation. This problem has the potential to become severe enough to cause bacterial overgrowth and alter the balance of the gut microbiota. Excessive alcohol consumption may also lead to heartburn, stomach ulcers, or acid reflux.
- Eat A Lot Of Fiber
Fiber is your gut's best friend. Soluble fiber absorbs water and adds bulk to your stool. Insoluble fiber, on the other hand, prevents constipation. Soluble fiber is found in foods like whole grains, wheat bran, oat bran, etc. Flaxseeds, cocoa, almonds, walnuts, etc. are some foods rich in insoluble fiber. If gathering these ingredients is a tedious task for you, there are plenty of supplements that also do the trick. Look for supplements that have 100% plant-based dietary fiber with a good blend of organic superfoods to improve digestion and balance out the gut flora.
- Limit The Consumption Of Sugar
Too much sugar can reduce beneficial bacteria, leading to the leaky gut syndrome. In this specific illness, the gut barrier that safeguards the gut from dangerous pathogenic bacteria is compromised, allowing toxins from the gut to escape into the bloodstream.
Now that you know why your gut is your second brain, it's time to give it more importance and take good care of it. For starters, a healthy diet rich in probiotics and prebiotics can keep your gut in good shape. By following the above tips, you will be able to keep your gut healthy and avoid health issues in the long run.
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