You know that you can have gastrointestinal symptoms when you’re stressed or nervous. We’ve all experienced that.
But, you may have also heard about the “gut-brain connection.” That your gastrointestinal system, lovingly called the “gut,” not only talks to your brain (yes, talks “to” your brain) but is kind of its own brain (a “second brain”). And that it may influence your actual brain.
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.
And because of the new 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 (but not too surprising).
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. Things like:
- The Vagus nerve that links the gut directly to the brain;
- The “enteric nervous system” (A.K.A. “second brain) that 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; and,
- The interactions and messages sent by the gut microbes.
This is complex and amazing if you ask me.
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!
The 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.”
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?
Guess how these nerves speak to each other, and to other cells? By chemical messengers called “neurotransmitters.”
In fact, many of the neurotransmitters that have a strong effect on our mood are made in the gut! e.g. a whopping 95% of serotonin is made in your gut, not in your brain!
The immune system of the gut
Because eating and drinking is a huge portal where disease-causing critters can get into your body, it makes total sense that much of our defense system would be located there too, right? Seventy-five percent of our immune system is in our gut!
And you know that the immune cells can move throughout the entire body and cause inflammation just about anywhere, right?
Well, if they’re “activated” by something in the gut, they can potentially wreak havoc anywhere in the body. Including the potential to cause inflammation in the brain.
You have billions of those little guys happily living in your gut. And they do amazing things like help you digest certain foods, make certain vitamins, and even help regulate inflammation!
But more and more evidence is showing that changes in your gut microbiota can impact your mood, and even other, more serious, mental health issues.
How do these all work together for brain health?
The honest answer to how these things all work together is that we really don’t know just yet. More and more studies are being done to learn more.
But one thing is becoming clear. A healthy gut goes hand-in-hand with a healthy brain!
So, how do you feed your brain?
Of course, a variety of minimally-processed, nutrient-dense foods is required, because no nutrients work alone.
But two things that you may consider eating more of are fiber and omega-3 fats. Fiber (in fruits, veggies, nuts & seeds) helps to feed your awesome gut microbes. And omega-3 fats (in fatty fish, walnuts, algae, and seeds like flax, chia, and hemp) are well-know inflammation-lowering brain boosters.
Detox is vital in this toxic world. For so many years as an MD and a health coach I focused simply on digestion because I do believe that good digestion leads to a healthy life. But then one day the light went off in my head. I realized that to have good digestion, you must be detoxing properly.
You see, detox is a natural step toward a better digestion. Good digestion leads to less inflammation, and less inflammation leads to less disease in this world. Let me say it again, decrease the inflammation and prevent disease.
If this is true and disease begins in the gut, aka your digestive system, then having a healthy and strong digestion is key. But let me share a secret with you – when the body is toxic, your digestive system is weak.
So even if you eat “clean” and only buy organic and hormone-free foods, you are still breathing toxicity in this world.
We live, eat and breathe toxicity every day. Look around your home and think of the paint on the walls, the rugs, the pesticides sprayed on your green grass, the exterminator to get rid of the bugs. Even if you are chemical-free in your home, is your chemical makeup free?
Even if you are doing your best to live a chemical-free life, we are still alive, and that means eating, breathing, and sleeping in a toxic environment.
Unless you feel that are ready to live in a bubble or a hyperbaric chamber, then it is time to wake up to what I call daily detox.
Now detox is not a curse word or anything to be scared about. Instead, it is exciting to think about your body and cells actually functioning. I do not tell people detox has to be living on juices, or water only, or only smoothies or just salad or soup. Detox is about lessening the toxic load in your body. As I say, “taking out the trash.”
When we are toxic, our body cannot perform its job. The body cannot metabolize properly, detox properly, absorb nutrients and minerals, or stay hydrated. It is a vicious cycle. See, detox is necessary to be healthy, happy and free of disease. We all have some low-level inflammation because again we breathe, but even more so we stress in this busy world.
Every time you stress you create acid in your body. Your body is then forced to pull minerals to buffer the acid waste. The liver, lymph and kidneys begin to work hard to filter out the toxic load.
But what happens when the body is tired and clogged? When your digestive system is not working and cannot break down these foods, it cannot focus on getting RID of TOXINS. That means you cannot get rid of bloat and fat and skin breakouts and all that jazz that keeps you tired.
TOXINS=>WEAK DIGESTION=>WEAK IMMUNE FUNCTION
- Difficult weight management
- Low energy
- Low sex drive
- Bad skin
- Get where I am going with all of this?
By detoxing you will improve digestion and free your body of inflammation and toxins in the process.
The foundation of this detox is NOT to ever feel deprived or starved.
The goal is to help you do what I have learned to do in my own life: learn how to EAT CLEAN and learn what foods are IRRITATING your body.
Click below and let’s change your life today.
Now that you’ve learned a little more about the benefits of detoxing, how can you start bringing it into your daily life?
Here are a few of my favorite ways to stay healthy and detox naturally:
- Upon waking, drink warm or room-temperature water with lemon and 1 tsp raw apple cider vinegar (if tolerated) and add a dash of cinnamon or cayenne.
- Start your day by being positive – find that daily affirmation that gets you fired up. I love Louise Hay, Geneen Roth, Gabrielle Bernstein and Marianne Williamson.
- Try getting quiet within yourself even just for one minute – and say “I release what does not serve me” – place your hand on your heart as you say this out loud. Scream if it you want, own that power.
- Drink fresh green juices or make your own green juice with 1 tbsp. chlorophyll and lemon and lime and water.
- Aim for one meal that is super easy on your digestion per day like a smoothie, green juice or soup. Give that digestion a rest.
- Get moving and shaking. Yes, exercise is one of the best ways to detox your body.
- Drink plenty of water and add lemon, lime or grapefruit to flush the toxicity.
- Skin brushing is my favorite way to support the liver and get rid of those toxins.
- Tongue scraping.
- Be happy and grateful for life.