The brain and gut are so distant but yet extremely interconnected. Does the phrase ‘butterflies in the stomach’ or ‘I went with my gut feeling’ ring a bell? If your brain does all the thinking what is the need for butterflies in your stomach or going ahead with some decision due to gut feelings? These expressions do have a reason! These signals arrive from an unexpected source-your second brain hidden in the digestive system. This is revolutionizing medicine’s understanding of digestion, mood, health and even the way you think.
The gastrointestinal tract is sensitive to emotions and emotions such as anger, anxiety, sadness, elation and joy can trigger symptoms in the gut. Also, a disturbed intestine can send signals to the brain. Hence, the gut-brain interaction is like a two-way switch as both of these are strongly connected to each other. We feel nauseated before standing in front of a big crowd; bowel movements change and we tend to use the bathroom frequently during stress. Stress can drastically impact the movement and contraction of the GI tract, increase inflammation and increase your chances of infection.
Encapsulated as two thin layers of more than 100 million nerve cells in your gastrointestinal tract right from the esophagus to rectum, brain in your gut is called as the enteric nervous system (ENS). Devoid of cleverness or emotions, this brain is all about digestion but communicates with our human brain producing great results. ENS causes emotional changes and reactions in people suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), diarrhea, constipation, bloating, pain or stomach upset. Researchers feel that irritation in the gastrointestinal system may send signals to the central nervous system that trigger mood changes. Become familiar with the diverse nature of the human gut and its role in our day-to-day life from the website www.firsteatright.com.
A new study has established yet another connection between the gut and the brain-the microorganisms living in the gut play an integral role in influencing the progression of neurodegenerative diseases. The gut microbes affect two types of cells-microglia and astrocytes-that are important to the central nervous system. Important to the body’s immune system, microglia search the CNS to get rid of plaques, damaged cells and other materials that need to be chucked out. The same microglia can emit toxic compounds on the star-shaped brain cells, astrocytes and lead to numerous neurological diseases (including multiple sclerosis). Previous studies showed the effect of byproducts from organisms living in the gut, but this is the first study that shows the direct effect of microbial products on microglia.