You know the phrase to trust your gut instinct: well it’s referring to us tuning into our intuition or emotions. There is sense behind this saying as our gut is known as the body’s second brain and there is a direct line of communication running between the two through activation of the vagus nerve. The Gut-brain axis consists of linking peripheral intestinal functions with emotional and cognitive centres of the brain.
We experience gut issues when under emotional stress and equally we can experience emotional problems if our digestive system is compromised. Which issue came first? It can be somewhat similar to the chicken and the egg question. Our gut microbiota plays a significant role in this signaling from the gut to the brain and the brain to the gut, so having a healthy gut flora is paramount. All of our systems are interconnected in the body and when one is not working at its best, that will certainly affect the other systems in a sort of domino effect way, resulting in a myriad of chronic health complaints. It is interesting that our gut bacteria can become compromised even before we are born, as studies have linked prenatal maternal stress to lower levels of beneficial bacteria such as bifidobacteria and lactobacillus.
Having a healthy gut is also very important in regulating energy levels and moods. Around 85-90% of the body’s serotonin is made in the gut and having certain bacteria in the gut can increase or decrease the amount of serotonin produced. Having a healthy microbiome helps to ensure we produce enough of this “feel good neurotransmitter”, to keep our moods lifted.
Hippocates “all disease begins in the gut” so prioritizing gut health is the key to a healthy, happy life.