The gut-brain connection is essential in the body. If an individual has a leaky gut that is causing inflammation, it can send the signal to the brain and it can create problems like neurotransmitter dysfunction to systems that just don’t connect. The leaky gut can lead to brain dysfunction or brain dysfunction can lead to leaky gut. Sometimes an autoimmunity disease in the stomach can lead to a disruption in the mind. Then, brain disruption can also lead to inflammation in the gut. It’s a never-ending loop that the brain and gut can go on forever. Studies have stated that gut microbiota appears to influence the development of emotional behaviors like stress, pain modulation systems, and brain neurotransmitter systems.
The Brain System to the Gut System
The brain is the main control room that controls the body’s system and how the body should behave. The human brain also contains neuron cells that are found in the central nervous system. With the gut-brain connection, two critical systems help send the signal to the brain and the gut; these are known as the vagus nerve and the neurotransmitters.
The Vagus Nerve
There are approximately 100 billion neurons in the brain, while the gut contains about 500 million neurons, which is connected to the brain through the nerves in the nervous system. The vagus nerve is one of the most significant nerves that send signals back and forth to the brain and the gut. When the body is stressed, the stress signal inhibits the vagus nerve, and it can cause problems to the gut-brain connection. Animal studies have shown that any stress that is in the animal’s body can cause gastrointestinal issues and PTSD. While another study stated that individuals that have IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) have a reduced function of the vagus nerve.
There are ways to reduce the stress hormone so that the vagus nerve can function properly and send the right signals to the gut and the brain. Probiotic foods can help lower the amount of stress hormone in the bloodstream. When that happens, the body can start healing naturally when the stress is reduced; however, if the vagus nerve is damaged, then the probiotic has no effect.
Neurotransmitters are produced chemically in the brain by controlling feelings and emotions in the body. Since the brain and gut are connected to neurotransmitters, the neurotransmitters can create these compounds that help contribute to the body. In the brain, the neurotransmitter can produce serotonin to make the person feel happy and help control their body’s biological clock.
In the gut, there are trillions of microbes that live there, and interestingly researchers stated that serotonin is mainly being produced by the gut system. Another neurotransmitter that is provided in the gut is called GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), which helps control the feeling of fear and anxiety. When the brain feels overly anxious or has been through a traumatic experience that has caused them to be fearful, it can cause them to be hypersensitive and can cause a chemical imbalance to the gut, causing inflammation or leaky gut if it is severe.
The Gut System to the Brain System
The gut microbes can produce neurotransmitters to send to the brain, protect the intestinal barrier and the tight junction integrity, regulate the mucosal immune system, and modulates the enteric sensory afferents. The gut microbe produces a lot of SCFA (short-chain fatty acids) that form a barrier between the brain and blood flow called the blood-brain barrier. The blood-brain barrier protects the CNS (central nervous system) from toxins, pathogens, inflammation, injury, and disease.
The gut microbes also metabolize bile and amino acids to help produce other chemicals that affect the brain. When the body is stressed, it can reduce the production of bile acid by gut bacteria and alter the genes that are involved. When that stress is still creating problems in mind, the gut can develop gastrointestinal issues that will destroy the permeability barrier that is protecting the intestines.
The gut-brain connection plays an essential role in the body’s immune system as it controls inflammation and what passes into the body. Since the immune system controls inflammation, if it is turned on for too long, inflammation can occur as well as several brain disorders like depression and Alzheimer’s disease. Stress can even disrupt the gut by causing contractions to the GI tract, make inflammation worse in the intestinal permeability, and making the body more at risk to infections.
When the body starts to alleviate stress, it can naturally heal itself, and the gut-brain connection can begin functioning normally. With changes in a person’s eating habits and lifestyle, it can drastically change a person’s mood and recover from intestinal ailments they may have. If the brain feels right, then the gut feels good as well. They work together side by side to make sure that the body is functioning correctly. When either one is being disrupted, then the body does not function properly.
Therefore, the gut-brain connection is vital to the body. Neurotransmitters and other components that are in both systems work together to make sure that the body is working correctly. When one of the connections is being disrupted, however, the body can develop many chronic illnesses even if the person seems fine. By altering little things like changing a person’s diet and lifestyle, it can help improve the body and bring the balance back to the gut-brain connection.
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