The Gut Brain Connection & Digestion Explained
Digestion and gut health affect brain function through nutrient distribution and toxic metabolism
Digestion offers a prime example of how our body systems interconnect The human body is made up of cells, tissues, organs, and glands that work together in harmony to carry out a vast range of essential functions. Our interconnected functions illustrate the foremost importance of an integrative view and approach to health.
The digestive system processes food into two necessary components, one vital for our health and the other requiring effective elimination. These are nutrients, and waste. Optimal digestive function first and foremost extracts as many nutrients as possible from our food. Optimal digestive function then prepares waste for elimination and then removes the waste. Finally, optimal digestion depends on both the health of the Digestive System, and what is put into this magnificent system.
We must keep in mind the level of interconnection between the digestive system and other body systems. The right food intake equals better health and less digestive strain. Healthy foods contain less waste, produce less waste when digested and are easier to digest. Healthy foods contain a proper nutrient composition which contributes to the body in multiple ways. The quality of one's diet depends on nutrient content, toxicological considerations, cooking or processing types, bioavailability and how the food is combined. It is essential to avoid excessive processed foods, imbalances in major food group types, the wrong fats, excessive sugar, and food known to contribute to poor metabolic function.
When the function of the digestive system is compromised by physical and dietary factors, toxic levels rise while nutrient uptake declines.
In order to function well, the brain needs adequate essential fatty acids (EFAs), minerals, trace minerals, vitamins and amino acid forming proteins to facilitate proper neurotransmitter function through absorption and use by the organs including the brain. Deficiency prevention is key. By the same token, reducing toxicity is essential. A buildup of toxins that may range from ammonia to toxic metallic compounds may lead to the vague but problematic experience of "brain fog", indicative of excessive toxin exposure and inefficient elimination.
New scientific research is highlighting the fascinating neurological, bacteriological and biochemical connections that intertwine to connect the gut and the brain. The gut and brain are, in fact, closely connected through the vagus nerve, which picks up multiple sources of information from the gut as the so called "wandering nerve" before transferring it to the brain. Leading Swiss research indicates the strength of the neurological and biochemical connection between the brain and gut through the vagus nerve. 80 to 90 percent of your vagus nerve function is dedicated to relaying information from your viscera to your brain, often relating to stress and the state of the gut.
As a feedback loop, the brain then sends information through the vagus nerve to the gut that modulates digestive processes. The gut brain connection helps you to stay calm through neurotransmitter regulation, including GABA. These neurotransmitters promote reductions in heart rate and blood pressure encourage and proper digestion. Connecting the neurological to gut bacteria and a look at friendly bacteria, leading scientific research points to gut flora itself as a second source of neurotransmitter chemicals produced with effects on the brain.
The vagus nerve would pick this information up directly and also pass these neurotransmitter effects onto the brain. It is essential to ensure that the body benefits from digestion while not being exposed to excess by-products.
Digestion can affect the flow of nutrients through the blood and eventually the whole body, including the brain. Effective digestion relates closely to the health of the cardiovascular system. Well known cardio specialist and surgeon Dr. Esselstyn did work on how a plant based diet can be used to potentially encourage reductions in plaque formation, which in turn supports the maintenance of our vital endothelial cells which produce nitric oxide (see video below). In turn, this process will increase circulation to the brain.
Dietary Considerations for Personal Health is Key
The right quality controlled herbal formulations, supplements and dietary approaches play an important role in supporting digestive health. Herbs, dietary plans and healthy living approaches must be correctly chosen to match the needs of each specific case. Each body is unique and different root causes may underlie a given health challenge. Every case has its own unique characteristics and considerations with distinct natural health care needs.
Yvonne Dollard Perc at Island Healthworks offers cutting edge guidance on dietary planning, exercise and lifestyle regimes to more efficiently contribute to your health. We believe that a full body approach to nutrition has far reaching benefits for human health. Our dietary consultations focus on ways that interconnected systems such as dietary planning, digestion and brain function can be duly considered each day.
To learn more, contact Yvonne Dollard Perc at Island Healthworks. Yvonne offers phone consultations where she will develop an individualized health care program and lifestyle plan tailored to your specific needs through a personal health and lifestyle analysis.
Call 250-468-7685 to speak with Yvonne and set up a phone consultation!
Yvonne offers in-person consultations with assessment of your specific needs, health and lifestyle coaching, and the best of integrative natural health care. To book your in person consultation, please call 250-468-7685!
This article is intended for educational purposes and the information contained within is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure any disease or health problem. Please seek appropriate medical attention for any health complaints. We cannot take responsibility for your health care decisions. Our intent is only to offer health information to help you with your search for better health.