At Be Well Consulting, we spend a lot of time advocating for the gut's role in overall health and wellness. We've written previously about its influence on bloating, inflammation, and autoimmune disease. Today we'll be exploring the gut's vital role in supporting a balanced brain.
Go with Your Gut.
Going with your gut is a common idiom for a reason. On an innate level, people have understood the gut's vital role in decision-making instincts for decades. Often called the body's second brain, experts call this little brain the enteric nervous system or ENS. Made up of two layers of over 100 million nerve cells lining the gastrointestinal tract, the ENS helps regulate emotional shifts.
ENS' Depression Connection.
New research in the fields of neuro and gastrointestinal medicine points towards the connection between depression, anxiety, and gut or bowel problems. According to Jay Pasricha, M.D., director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Neurogastroenterology, "For decades, researchers and doctors thought that anxiety and depression contributed to these problems. But our studies and others show that it may also be the other way around."
Armed with this information, medical practitioners and nutritionists can explore new and more effective methods for treating digestive or cognitive issues. For example, antidepressants might be prescribed to treat IBS to calm overactive nerve cells in the gut instead of the brain. On the other hand, dietary changes may be a safe and effective way to improve mental health concerns. Because the brain is made up almost entirely of fat, the fat you consume in your diet can have a significant impact on the fat available to nourish your brain. You are what you eat! Every person is different, so what works for one person may not work for another, but as research in this area expands we will continue to have new opportunities available to help heal your brain.
Your Healing Path.
As with any health innovation, new information never trumps the signals of your body. If you're battling gastrointestinal or mental health challenges, we recommend assembling a health team that honors your individual body and needs. However, If you believe exploring gut issues is part of your healing path, please get in touch with us today; we'd love to help you take control of your health!