The Mind-Intestine Connection
Hello fellow readers, this is one of my favorite subjects is to talk about, "The mind intestine connection". Did you know that over 95% of our serotonin is produced in the gut? Less than 1% is produced in the brain. We know serotonin is the neurotransmitter involved with uplifting mood and well over the majority of it is found in the intestines according to researcher Dr. Michael Gershon, author of "The Second Brain".
Other research is now finding that the neurotransmitter GABA is also found in the intestines and GABA is the primary excitatory neurotransmitter involved in helping regulate stress, anxiety and hyperactivity in our body.
So as you can imagine the digestive track and related concerns are strong factors in cerebral chemistry. Food intake affects every cell in our body, when food is broken down to the chemical level, that chemistry in turn affects our body. About 40% of the nutrients we consume are used by the brain for its functions. There is a large number of research studies showing a link between psychological symptoms and intestinal health. Just as the brain send signals to the intestines, the intestines send signals to the brain. A UCLA study showed greater connectivity to various areas of the brain via fMRI's when pro-biotic foods were ingested.
Several research studies have been performed finding multiple intestinal abnormalities in those with psychological symptoms. Inflammation of the lymph nodes and colon are among the most common. The epithelial barrier has also been found compromised due to the chronic inflammation, and overgrowth of bad microbiota in the intestines. With chronic inflammation, toxins and bacteria are able to surpass the intestinal wall infecting other body systems including the brain chemistry.
Intestinal dysbiosis is another common diagnosis in those with psychological symptoms. This consists of an overgrowth of unhealthy microbiota in the intestines (bad bacteria). Healthy bacteria needs to be restored which regulates toxins, bacteria, fungus and other dangerous microorganisms within the body.
Eating a healthy diet full of organic vegetables, fruits, nuts, and other natural sources, supports the healthy digestion of food and the health of the intestines, which in turn supports brain health.
Some easy snack foods I like to consume that are healthy for the mind as well are:
- Nuts such as walnuts, Brazilian nuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, cashews etc. all raw and organic. I find these in the bulk section at health food stores.
- Nut butters like sunflower butter, almond butter, or mixed nut butters
- Sauerkraut or other fermented foods that provide a natural pro-biotic to the system. I also like to take a really good pro-biotic supplement daily
- Fresh organic fruits and vegetables. I consume more vegetables than fruit and try to eat them in their rawest form so as to not cook out the nutrients. I have the sliced and ready to snack on for those moments of traveling or when I am in a hurry.
- Sprouts, oh how I love sprouts for a snack. Did you know how easy it is to sprout lentils, or sunflower seeds, or garbanzo beans or snap peas? Sprouts provide a super healthy snack or additive to your meals.
I hope you have learned some new information and snack ideas here for improving your mind-intestine connection and brain health! Learn more about my brain health program
you can participate in for education and guidance in supporting your intestinal health at the same time as refreshing brain health. Please share your comments and other tips on nutrients you have found helpful for overall wellness in the body and have a healthy day!