Have you ever been so worried about something that you were “sick to your stomach” about it? We have too! Let’s explore brain and gut health.
There is a strong link connecting your brain and gut in the form of bidirectional communication between the guts microbiota and the brains neural pathways. Nerves can send signals through the neural pathways in the chemical form of neurotransmitters. This is possible because set in the walls of your digestive system is something called the Enteric Nervous System or ENS (1). Similar to the Central Nervous System (CNS, which is composed of your brain, spinal cord, and main nerves), the ENS is made up of millions of nerves controlling your bodies subconscious movements. Unlike CNS, however, the ENS does not “think” in the form of understandable thought but transmits to the CNS through the neurotransmitters. This constant communication, known as the gut-brain axis, means shifts in your brain or gut can affect the other in a major way. This is a long way of saying that your mental state can have a direct influence on your intestinal health (and vice-versa).
Now that we have established the connection that exists between your brain and gut, how can you help keep those systems healthy?
B-12– Studies have shown that B-12 is an important vitamin for red cell development and supporting the prevention of brain degradation. B-12 encourages healthy nerves and serotonin levels, having a role in supporting normal brain cognition (2).
Lion’s Mane– Studies have shown that Lion’s Mane contains compounds that may protect against dementia and other memory loss because they support the regenerative production of brain cells (3).
Aloe Vera– Aloe Vera can potentially help ease stomach pain and discomfort by soothing the intestines and releasing enzymes that support healthy movement in the digestive tract.
Pro/Prebiotics– Pro/ Prebiotics have been shown to help maintain a healthy microbiome in the intestinal tract. Taking probiotics replaces any lost bacteria that your body needs to digest food and have a healthy acidic balance. Taking prebiotics can help the the growth of the natural bacteria in your stomach.
Dandelion Root– Studies have shown dandelion root may be able to improve carbohydrate digestion and fat storage and potentially promote healthy liver function.
(1) “The Brain-Gut Connection.” Johns Hopkins Medicine, www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/the-brain-gut-connection.
(2) Tangney, C C, et al. “Vitamin B12, Cognition, and Brain MRI Measures: a Cross-Sectional Examination.” Neurology, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 27 Sept. 2011, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3179651/.
(3) Sabaratnam, Vikineswary, et al. “Neuronal Health – Can Culinary and Medicinal Mushrooms Help?” Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine, Medknow Publications & Media Pvt Ltd, Jan. 2013, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3924982/.