Gut health remedies are exploding from the wellness community on every front and Gastrointestinal science has become one of the most talked about topics in medicine with new areas of research growing rapidly. One of the most fascinating is the brain-gut connection. For years scientist believed that mental health conditions like anxiety and depression contribute to Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), but recent findings reveal deeper connections than we ever imagined.
The enteric nervous system in your gastrointestinal tract is composed of over 100 million nerve cells that run from your esophagus to your rectum. This “brain in your gut” has such a large impact on your daily life that it influences your digestion, mood, health and even your thoughts. Obviously your intestinal brain isn’t going to finish that work project for you, but it is thought to trigger emotional shifts and digestion issues associated with IBS, depression and anxiety. Understanding the link between gut health and your body’s optimal function is only in its infancy but it certainly poses an exciting frontier in the scientific community and we, the population, get to reap the benefits!
This new horizon of research offers huge advancements in the medical field. Gastroenterologists are starting to prescribe antidepressants and cognitive behavioral therapy to calm IBS symptoms. Scientists are just beginning to explore this field of study, but we can take some of their findings and apply it to our daily wellness.
1). Diversify Your Diet. You can’t take the easy way out on this one. No probiotic on the market can compete with good old fashioned unprocessed foods. While there are many supplements that boast the ability of increasing your gut health, save yourself the headache (and the cost) of sifting through these companies and opt instead for local produce at your farmer’s market or the fresh vegetables at the supermarket.
2). A Healthy Gut, Through and Through. Something that’s been well described in medical literature is the idea that improving the health of one part of your gut can effect the other. For example, treating constipation has been correlated with improvement of acid reflux and some stomach emptying disorders. It makes sense: it’s all one long tube that is connected by your intestinal “mini-brain.”
3). Fiber Isn’t Just For Your Grandparents. Do not underestimate the importance of fiber! And not the Metamucil type, although if you have issues with constipation, this can certainly resolve them. Consuming enough natural fiber from healthy foods will help keep your gut healthy and may reduce your risk of mouth, throat, breast, esophageal and colon cancer.
So there you have it, that little brain in your intestines is influencing your life more than you ever imagined. Give some extra thought to your second brain and hit up a farmers market this weekend. Trying new veggies will expand your microbiome and help your second brain think more clearly.