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Dr Mercola on The Powerful Connection Between Your Gut And Brain

May 15, 2011

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“…Most people fail to realize that your gut is quite literally your second brain, and in addition to digesting your food actually has the ability to significantly influence your:

  • Mind
  • Mood
  • Behavior

It’s not a widely understood or emphasized fact, but studies have repeatedly shown that a healthy gut reinforces a positive outlook and behavior, while depression and a variety of behavioral problems have been linked to an imbalance or lack of gut bacteria.

For example, a recent animal study published in the journal Neurogastroenterology & Motility, found that mice lacking gut bacteria behave differently from normal mice, engaging in what would be referred to as “high-risk behavior.” This altered behavior was accompanied by neurochemical changes in the mouse brain.

According to the authors, microbiota (your gut flora)  plays a role in the communication between your gut and your brain, and:

“Acquisition of intestinal microbiota in the immediate postnatal period has a defining impact on the development and function of the gastrointestinal, immune, neuroendocrine and metabolic systems. For example, the presence of gut microbiota regulates the set point for hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis activity.”

So, not only does this finding dovetail nicely with the theory that your gut flora may be a factor of your nutritional type, but it also helps explain how your diet and gut flora can impact your mental health, for better or worse.

Remember, your diet is largely responsible for your gut health, and when you feed your body the fuel it’s designed for, your gut flora will be able to maintain optimal balance, which then supports optimal physical and mental health.

The intrinsic connection between your gut and your brain becomes easier to understand once you know that your brain and gut are actually created out of the same type of tissue. During fetal development, one part turns into your central nervous system while the other develops into your enteric nervous system. These two systems are connected via the vagus nerve; the tenth cranial nerve that runs from your brain stem down to your abdomen. This is what connects your two brains together.

Your gut and brain actually work in tandem, each influencing the other.

This is why your intestinal health can have such a profound influence on your mental health, and vice versa…”

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