If there was ever a call for "digestive health," this is it! Yes, it's true. Your gut is considered your "second brain." There is no denying it anymore, with more and more studies indicating that the brain and the gut are in constant communication along the vagus nerve.
And because of these scientific discoveries about the vagus nerve, the enteric nervous system, and the amazing influence your gut microbes can have, it's no wonder what you eat feeds not only your body but can directly affect your brain. I find it amazing and not all that surprising, as I speak with people about their diets and state of mind.
What exactly is the "gut-brain connection"?
Well, it’s very complex, and to be honest, we’re still learning lots about it! There seem to be multiple things working together. Did you know:
The vagus nerve links the gut directly to the brain.
The “enteric nervous system” (A.K.A. “second brain) helps the complex intricacies of digestion flow with little to no involvement from the actual brain.
The massive amount of neurotransmitters produced by the gut
The huge part of the immune system that is in the gut, but can travel throughout the body
I’ll briefly touch on these areas and end off with a delicious recipe (of course!).
There is a nerve that runs directly from the gut to the brain. And after reading this so far, you’ll probably get a sense of which direction 90% of the transmission is…not from your brain to your gut (which is what we used to think), but from your gut up to your brain!
Enteric nervous system and neurotransmitters
Would you believe me if I told you that the gut has more nerves than your spinal cord?
I knew you would! And that's why it's referred to as the "second brain." And, if you think about it, controlling the complex process of digestion (i.e. digestive enzymes, absorption of nutrients, the flow of food, etc.) should probably be done pretty "smartly"...don't you think?
And guess how these nerves speak to each other, and to other cells? By chemical messengers called "neurotransmitters."