Do you know the gut-brain axis? If you have ever felt “butterflies” at the sight of a loved one, or have lost your appetite when you have been stressed, you may be aware that your mind and stomach are connected. But the gut-brain axis is a real phenomenon, and this constant two-way communication, when out of sync, can trigger gut problems and other health problems.
In general, the gut-brain axis is a communication system between the brain and the trillions of bacteria, fungi and viruses that live inside your gut. Multiple studies have shown that the composition of gut bacteria can have a profound impact on mental health and the functioning of the nervous system. A healthy diet plays a significant role in shaping this microbiome by promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria and blocking the buildup of harmful ones. Nutrition can also affect communication along the gut-brain axis, further affecting the connections between the gastrointestinal tract and the nervous system.
Read on to explore how different parts of the gut-brain axis work and the role of nutrition in staying fit bowel health.
What is the gut-brain axis?
The gut-brain axis refers to the constant flow of information between gut microbes and the central nervous system. This two-way communication involves multiple different pathways as well as microbial metabolites such as short-chain fatty acids, branched-chain amino acids, and peptidoglycans. It is a highly sophisticated network that can be easily disrupted by many different factors, such as environmental irritants, stress, antibiotics, and even delivery modes.
The gut microbiome is a crucial part of this gut-brain connection. It develops simultaneously with the central nervous system and has a powerful influence on many different mental processes. Trial suggests that dysbiosis, a term used to describe a disrupted gut microbiome, may play a significant role in many mental and neurological diseases.
During dysbiosis, the gut-brain axis pathways are dysregulated, which can make the physical barrier between the central nervous system and the cardiovascular system more porous. When this blood brain barrier leaks, it can lead to inflammation of the brain matter. The gut-related neuroinflammation was connected to the development of diseases such as multiple sclerosis, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.
emerging trial it also suggests that a disturbed gut-brain axis may promote weight gain by inducing changes in our metabolism, satiety control and eating behavior. Also, a recent Study 2020 showed how disrupted signaling in the gut-brain axis can create a strong preference for the taste of sugar, but not for artificial sweeteners.
But how does the brain-gut axis work? First, let’s break it down into several components.
The vagus nerve
The human gut contains nearly 500 million neurons, which are connected to the brain via nerves. The vagus nerve is one of the larger nerves that connects the gastrointestinal tract to the nervous system and plays many important roles in your body. It has a wide-ranging impact on inflammation and the composition of the microbiota in the gut, but many factors can affect its functioning. Psychological stress, for example, has a particularly damaging effect on the vagus nerve and it has been shown be involved in the development of gastrointestinal disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease.
Your gut and brain also communicate through chemicals called neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters synthesized by the brain are involved in the regulation of emotions and the fight or flight response. Recent Education have shown that these compounds can also play an important role in the gut. The neurotransmitters norepinephrine, epinephrine, dopamine and serotonin are able to regulate and control not only blood flow, but also influence bowel movements, nutrient absorption, the gastrointestinal immune system and the microbiome.
Many neurotransmitters responsible for maintaining our mental health are actually produced by gut cells or gut microbes.
“The gut produces 90% of our happiness hormone, serotonin, 50% of our pleasure-seeking dopamine, melatonin, the sleep hormone, and oxytocin, the cuddle hormone,” he says. Dr. Jess Braid, physician and functional medicine practitioner of Goodbye. “When the balance of organisms in our gut is wrong, it can affect our mood and behavior.”
Gut microbes, neurotransmitters and mental disorders influence each other in a bidirectional way, forming a triangular relationship. Dysregulated neurotransmitters can contribute to the onset and progression of inflammatory bowel diseases And neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.
Chemicals produced by intestinal microbes
Gut microbes produce a number of chemicals that affect how our brains work. Bacterial fermentation of dietary fiber is the main source of short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) such as butyrate, propionate and acetate. These compounds were shown to prevent digestive problems and reduce the risk of developing obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Short-chain fatty acids are able to migrate across the blood brain barrier and consequently have an impact on the structure and function of the brain.
“SCFA butyrate plays a key role in communication between the gut and the brain, protecting the brain from low-grade inflammation,” explains Marilia Chamon, nutritionist and founder of Gutfulness nutrition. “Butyrate is also the main source of fuel for the cells that line the gut and has many beneficial health effects on the nervous system of the gastrointestinal tract.”
The gut-brain axis and mental health: what’s the connection?
Dysbiosis and inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract were connected to a multitude of mental health conditions. emerging trial suggests that gut microbes play a crucial role in brain development and the flow of information through the nervous system. Poor gut health can contribute to the onset and progression of depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, autism spectrum disorders, migraines, and epilepsy.
There is a significant link between the gut-brain axis and how susceptible we are to stress too. Chronic stress can trigger episodes of depression and anxiety. It has been speculated that people who have good gut health may be more resistant to pressure than those who struggle with it. Multiple Education they also showed how early childhood changes in the gut microbiota through exposure to antibiotics, lack of breastfeeding, cesarean delivery, infection, exposure to stress and other environmental influences can cause long-term alterations. term of stress-related physiology and behavior.
What foods help the gut-brain axis?
Improving our eating habits is one of the most important things we can do to benefit our gut microbes.
“For a simple idea of how to improve gut health naturally, aim for at least 30 different plant-based foods per week, rich in fiber and beneficial plant chemicals,” says Dr. Megan Rossi, founder of The doctor of bowel health. “The more diversity, the better.”
However, some nutrients are better for our gut than others and even with a healthy, balanced diet we may experience occasional deficiencies. Therefore, it is worth knowing which foods can help our gut-brain axis the most.
Probiotics are strains of live bacteria that bring various health benefits when consumed in adequate quantities. There are many probiotic foods to support your gutbut if you’re not a fan of fermented foods, you can also take probiotic supplements.
Recent Education have shown that probiotics can moderate neurological and psychiatric disorders through the gut-brain axis. The probiotic strains that most affect the functioning of the central nervous system are often referred to as “psychobiotics”. emerging trial indicates that these so-called psychobiotics can improve cognitive function as well as symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression.
Prebiotics are some fractions of dietary fiber and non-digestible carbohydrates that help our good gut bacteria to grow and thrive. Prebiotic foods it can include some vegetables, fruits, whole grains and seeds.
Prebiotics have a highly beneficial effect on our gastrointestinal tract but have also been shown to improve brain health, according to a review in Current Pharmaceutical Biotechnology. Research even suggested that these compounds may help people recover from traumatic brain injury and PTSD.
omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids are a type of essential fat that our body cannot produce on its own, so we need to get them through our diet. Multiple Education have shown that omega-3s have a wide-ranging impact on our cardiovascular and metabolic health due to their ability to modify the structure and function of cell membranes. Also, they can for the benefit of our intestinal health.
Polyphenols are a diverse group of phytochemicals, organic compounds found naturally in plants. Multiple Education have indicated their beneficial influence on health due to their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Some food polyphenols have the ability to affect gut health and, consequently, protect yourself Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. Polyphenols with neuroprotective properties are found in many different foods, including cocoa, green tea and olive oil.