We have coined many sayings over time that connect our guts to our emotions, and, as it turns out, they are accurate for a surprising reason. Researchers at ETH Zurich have identified how “gut instincts coming up to the brain via the vagus nerve are linked to different responses to fear.” (Bergland, 2014) Eighty to ninety percent of the communications that take place between your gut and your brain go in that direction via the vagal nerve, not the other way around. In fact, your digestive tract houses your enteric nervous system (your second brain,) which contains more neurons than your spine.
Your digestive tract is also the place where most of your feel-good neurotransmitters are made.
- Gut bacteria create ninety percent of your serotonin (responsible for regulating your mood, digestion, sleep, and more.)
- Gut bacteria increase the GABA receptors in your brain; GABA alleviates mood disorders.
- Gut microbes make up to fifty percent of your pleasure and reward dopamine.
Here are five quick tips that will help you nourish your brain and gut.
Eat A Diverse Diet
Eat a diverse diet to promote healthy gut bacteria. The foods in the center aisles of the grocery store mostly contain the same six ingredients: dairy, wheat, corn, soy, unhealthy fats, and sugar. In fact, approximately 75% of the world’s foods consist of only 12 plant and 5 animal species. So, in order to find more variety, shop the perimeter of the store. Make easy choices like rainbow carrots instead of only orange ones, or green or purple cauliflower, instead of just white. Also, stock up on fermented veggies (like sauerkraut) and take a probiotic if you need to.
Avoid Fast Foods and Pesticides
Diets low in fiber and high in fats and simple carbs, which make up most of our fast foods, can seriously alter gut bacteria for generations to come. In other words, the health of your children and grandchildren depends on the choices you make today. Pesticides alter the gut microbiome, setting the stage for leaky gut and autoimmune disease. They dissolve the protein staples responsible for the integrity of your digestive tract, leaving microscopic holes in it. They are also associated with obesity and insulin resistance, two factors that correlate with cognitive impairment. In addition to a lifetime of chronic disease, pesticides and fast foods set the stage for multiple brain health problems.
Get Enough Vitamin B Complex
Vitamin B Complex is a crucial co-factor in the manufacture of neurotransmitters. Likewise, it is also necessary for the production of stomach acid, which breaks down the proteins that form your neurotransmitters. Low B Vitamins can cause cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s, and depression.
Eat Healthy Fats
Your brain is sixty percent fat. Omega-3 fats like EPA and DHA are essential for a healthy mood and brain. EPA helps to regulate mood, and DHA is to your brain as calcium is to your bones. Healthy fats also shield your myelin sheaths, protecting your nerves so that your internal wiring doesn’t get crossed.
Diagnose and Treat Gut Conditions
Diseases of the digestive tract like SIBO, H. Pylori, Candida Overgrowth, Leaky Gut, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and Crohn’s Disease all cause cognitive distress. They can result in brain fog, forgetfulness, confusion, and frustration. Incorporate the first four changes but don’t neglect the health of your digestive tract. Diagnosing and treating diseases leads to better brain health.
If you want a healthy mind, taking care of your second brain should be a no-brainer. Following these simple steps could unleash a bright and beautiful future for you!