Microbiota – The Brain Gut Connection

Transcript of Neuro Nugget Video:

Microbiota, all the little organisms, like bacteria, viruses, and fungi that live in your gut, contribute to our overall health, both mentally and physically. It is responsible for IBS, asthma, anxiety, and depression, and neurodegenerative brain disorders like Parkinson’s disease. Microbes inhabit the inside of our gut and lining of our intestines. If you put all of your gut microbes together and shape them into an organ, it would weigh between two and six pounds.

Now, keep in mind, your brain only weighs about two and a half pounds. This is why some refer to the gut microbiota as the forgotten organ, or our second brain. Microbiota live in intimate contact with major information gathering systems in our body, allowing them to listen as the brain signals the gut to how stressed, happy, anxious, or angry we are. They influence our emotions by generating and modulating signals the gut sends backup to the brain. Gut microbiota are linked to depression, and drugs like SSRIs only mask the depression, when in fact, 95% of the body’s serotonin is contained in specialized cells in the gut. In fact, many causes of depression can be eased through dietary interventions.

If you think about it, when we get the gut-wrenching experiences or those little butterflies in our stomach, we are experiencing our emotion generated circuits that our brain is sending down to the gut. For example, you’re eating dinner and the conversation goes wrong, you’re arguing over steak and potatoes, which then triggers your stomach’s meat grinding activity to turn off. Instead, our stomach goes into spastic contractions that no longer fully empty our gut properly.

Far after we have ended dinner and we’re laying in our bed, our stomach is still experiencing those spasms. This prevents the usual overnight cleansing of the gut. Many individuals are also starting to find that our body stores trauma, and this is the cause of many of our autoimmune issues today. Here’s how. Gut sells an a chronically angry or anxious person, using a script that dates back to childhood, may play out dark plots, day after day. Many gut cells in these people over time, adapt to accommodate the stage directions. Nerve connections change, the sensors in the gut become more sensitive, the gut serotonin producing machinery shifts into high gear and even gut microbes become more aggressive.

Many professionals treat the brain when anxiety becomes an issue. Depression is getting more severe and GI disorders arise. However, healing the brain would also benefit if we heal the gut. If the brain decides there’s a threat, it activates the stress program in the brain, which then orchestrates the most appropriate response in our bodies, including our gastrointestinal tract. The brain’s dedicated signaling molecules include a few hormones like endorphins, dopamine, and oxytocin, as well as a molecule known as CRF, which is the stress master switch.

CRF plays a major role for your wellbeing by regulating the amount of the hormone, cortisol, that is produced by your adrenal glands. Once CRF is activated, your adrenal glands start pumping out cortisol. This increases its level in the bloodstream and prepares your body for what is to come. CRF released from the hypothalamus also spreads locally to the amygdala, our Hulk brain, which triggers a feeling of anxiety or fear. This then activates heart palpitations, sweaty palms, and the urge to eliminate any contents from the GI tract. None of this sounds very good to your gut. Imagine eating a meal while your body is going through complete chaos and then wondering why you have heartburn, an upset stomach, bloating or indigestion. Finding a way to be consciously aware of what you’re feeling within your body and mind will help your body to process the two together properly, through the brain-gut connection.

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Posted on

March 8, 2023