Have you ever felt that your gut is trying to speak to you, whether it’s through “butterflies” or an overall sense of discomfort?
You might be onto something as scientists are finding more and more links between gut health and our overall health. Especially when it comes to our mental well-being.
Here are some facts about our “second brain”, the gut:
#1 The origin of the “second brain” theory
In the linings of the walls of our digestive system, are more than 100 million neurons which make up the Enteric Nervous System (ENS).
It is this collection of nerve endings that scientists like to refer to as our “second brain”.
The existence of such a high number of neurons points to a more complex role of the ENS in the body, rather than just digestion.
ENS uses more than 30 neurotransmitters, just like the brain, and can perform certain functions without communicating with the brain.
Because of this complexity and separate function, it has been dubbed the “second brain” of the body.
#2 Your gut affects your mental health
It has been proven that the “butterflies” we feel when faced with a difficult challenge or excitable situations is the ENS responding to stressful situations.
Also, there has been a documented correlation between people who suffer from IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), constipation, and diarrhoea with big emotional shifts and even depression.
On top of this, 95% of the serotonin production in the body is done in the gut. Serotonin production is often targeted by antidepressant medication and as a result, a higher-than-average percentage of people on antidepressants suffer from IBS.
#3 The “second brain” is not the centre of conscious thought
Despite being called the “second brain” your gut is not involved in the processes of conscious thought or decision making. It is peripheral in nature, while your brain focuses on higher level functions.
The absence of thought processes and decision making does not make your gut less complex, as it has its own reflexes and senses that control digestion, absorption of nutrients, muscle contraction, etc. The full extent of your gut’s role in your body is still being researched and we’re constantly finding out more.
Want to start paying attention to the health of your gut and learn how to make it work to your advantage? Get in touch with us to learn more.