Have you ever heard anyone say (or have YOU said) “I eat because I’m bored” or “I eat because I’m depressed” or “I eat because I’m anxious”? Well, there’s something to that. You see, there are actually more nerve connections between the gut and the brain (or the whole Central Nervous System) than between any other two systems in the body.
From a coach’s manual I use for some weight control programs we read, “When you are born your brain and your gut develop from the same tissue. In these early stages, the colonization of gut bacteria regulates the development of hormones that affect your mood, sleep, and a variety of other key functions. So, it should come as no surprise that your body and mind stay closely onnected throughout your life.”
Situational anxiety, stress, and moods cause your brain to cause the release of hormones such as cortisol, which in turn increases your cravings for high-fat, high-sugar foods. The technical science is complicated, but the end result is the same – the brain stimulates the nerves to cause the organs to produce hormones that cause several unwanted actions in our daily lives. That’s the brain’s part.
So how about the gut? If your gut is unhealthy, diseased, leaky, full of pathogens (viruses, bad bacteria, undigested food, yeast, parasites, etc.) then it sends erroneous signals to the brain causing it to respond in error. The wrong hormones are activated, the wrong digestive substances are released at the wrong times to the wrong areas, or the wrong chemical responses complicate an already confused body and bad goes to worse.
Think about Pavlov – he had dogs that were not hungry releasing gastric and pancreatic secretions in response to sensory signals such as the sight and smell of food.
In humans, the gut has the largest numbers of bacteria and the greatest number of species as compared to all other areas of the body. Research shows the importance to human life of these bacteria, so the brain works to protect and nurture them. A loss of them has been shown in clinical trials to cause numerous inflammatory and autoimmune conditions. And the composition of our gut flora changes when our diet changes and as overall health changes. So overall health is directly related to the condition of the gut. A healthy gut directly equates to a healthy body.
For those who are more technical, here’s the summary: “The gut-brain axis is a two-way communication that is very important to maintaining a body’s homeostasis (regular, normal health).
-For more information, contact Naturopathic Doctor Randy Lee, owner of The Health Patch at 1024 S. Douglas Blvd, Midwest City, at 405-736-1030 or e-mail pawpaw@TheHealthPatch.com or visit TheHeathPatch.com. Check out our blogs and podcasts under “resources” on our website each week for related topics.