The Gut-Brain Connection: What is it?
Ever had a “gut-wrenching” experience? Or what about “butterflies” in your stomach? We use these expressions for a reason. The gut-brain connection is real, people!
Your GI tract is sensitive to emotion. Stress, anger, anxiety, sadness, and even elation can trigger gut upsets.
According to Harvard Health, the brain directly affects your stomach and intestines. For instance, the very thought of eating a cheeseburger can release the stomach’s juices before the food passes your lips!
Alas, this connection goes both ways. You see, your troubled intestine can send signals to the brain, just as a troubled brain can send signals to your gut. That means your GI distress can be the cause or result of anxiety, stress, or depression.
Simply put, your brain and GI system have a very tight relationship. Read on to learn more about...
How Your Gut & Brain Communicate
For most of us, it's easy to assume that neurons are mostly a brain thing. After all, the brain houses 100 billion of them! But, your digestive system actually has neurons of its own. 500 million, to be exact.
These neurons are packed with vital information that tells us how we're doing. But, just like a phone needs a signal to send and receive data, the neurons in your gut and brain need a "cell tower" to exchange messages. That's where your nervous system comes in, as these essential gut-brain conversations travel through the vagus nerve.
They call this connection the gut-brain axis. We call it amazing!
But, for all this talk about your gut and brain's conversations, what are they actually saying to each other?
The Less You Stress, The Better You Digest
OK, let’s say you’re going through a lot. Maybe it’s a big life transition or simply too much on that proverbial plate of priorities.
Just like any besties, the brain and the gut want to talk about what’s going on. So, when stress takes hold, your brain spills the beans with your gut.
Now let’s just say your digestive system doesn’t take the disturbing news well, and it reacts with an upset stomach, gas, cramping, bloating, and more.
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg!
Studies show that stress can cause your digestive function to slow down and struggle with breaking down foods. Worse yet, stress has also been shown to trigger inflammatory issues, irritable bowel problems, GERD, ulcers, and overall discomfort. No Bueno!
Your Gut Health Affects Mental Health
Keep reading because here’s where the plot thickens.
Your gut loves to be the center of attention. So, when you treat it well, it treats the rest of your body well, and your mind is no exception!
A 2015 study has shown that probiotics can support cognitive reactivity while also reducing negative thoughts and moods. So much so that another study suggested that probiotics could even be a viable means of evading highly stressed and depressed feelings.
Who would've thought your gut could be so... supportive?
How to Support Your Gut-Brain Connection
Believe it or not, we're only scratching the surface of what makes the gut-brain axis so fascinating. But by this point, you're probably already wondering what you can do to support and keep your mind and gut in harmony. So, here are a few quick tips to get you started!
1. Manage Stress
Yeah, we know, it’s easy to say but hard to follow through with. Stress-busters range from yoga, meditation, and exercise to just breathing and pressing the pause button.
2. Eat Healthily
Remember your last chaotic day? Chances are it wasn’t your healthiest eating day. According to Harvard Medical School, that’s because when occasional stress strikes, the body releases hormones called cortisol, insulin, and ghrelin, which can ramp up hunger and cravings for less healthy foods. Instead, opt for foods such as whole-grain carbohydrates, leafy greens, oranges, fatty fish, and plenty of water.
3. Supplementing Savvy
Managing occasional stress can help lower inflammation in the gut and ease GI upset. In turn, your body will thank you because now it can focus on absorbing the nutrients you need. When everyday stress rears its angry head, consider adding targeted dietary supplements. Zenwise offers a complete line of digestive support supplements, including AVA-Certified Vegetarian DigeSTRESS which features clinically proven DE111, a probiotic that supports normal gut health, bowel movement and immune function.
If you have questions about the gut-brain connection and how probiotics can help, reach our customer service team at firstname.lastname@example.org or M-F from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST at (800) 940-1972.