The Gut-Brain Connection
The gut-brain connection consists of bidirectional communication between the central and the enteric nervous system. This links the emotional and cognitive centers of the brain with peripheral intestinal functions. In other words, our guts can have a big impact on our brain. Here are a few ways for you to enhance the gut-brain connection.
Balance Your Biome
Your microbiome is the collection of all microbes, such as bacteria, fungi, viruses, and their genes. These microbes live on our bodies and inside us, especially in the intestinal tract. Although microbes are so small that they require a microscope to see them, they contribute in big ways to our health and wellness. Prioritize foods high in fiber and polyphenols to help balance your microbiome. For example, vegetables with bright colors provide anti-stress qualities and improved brain health.
Healthy Guts Improve Immune System
A majority of your immune cells are based in and around your gut. During an immune response, signals from the gut immune system get into our bloodstream and make their way into our brains. The data they carry can have an overall impact on our brain health. Stress has been shown to affect the lining of your intestines, which could potentially cause an immune reaction and system wide inflammation. Consuming a diet rich in vitamins and minerals may help support the function of gut immune cells and your overall immune system.
Get Outside and Sleep Well
The gut-brain connection is bidirectional. This means the brain affects the gut, just as much as the gut affects the brain. Research has shown that not getting a good nights sleep is linked to a stronger preference for sugary foods in adolescence. Therefore, sleeping well helps us make better gut healthy food choices. Even brief exposure to nature helps our decision making process. Simply looking at nature helps us make less impulsive choices.
The gut-brain balance is a bidirectional connection. You are able to influence this connection through your diet and through your cognitive decisions. Here are three simple ways to improve this connection: eat more vegetables, get 7-8 hours of good sleep, and get outside in nature.
Dr Spencer Charlet
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