Your Microbiome Is Really Your Second Brain - What??
So, if you're like most people, your first thought about bacteria is that they cause sickness and diseases.
But in reality, we're teaming with beneficial bacteria that not only keep you healthy but also make up your microbiome - your unique internal ecosystem that benefits your gut health and your immune system.
The majority of this microbiome or "community of microbes" live in your digestive system.
The University of Colorado's Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry explain it as follows:
"the human microbiota consists of the 10-100 trillion symbiotic microbial cells harboured by each person, primarily bacteria in the gut. The human 'microbiome' consists of the genes these cells harbour.”
The scientific community have come to agree that bacteria have a critical role to play in supporting a strong immune system and for keeping our digestive systems running like clockwork.
Not to mention keeping hormone levels balanced, energy levels optimised and our brains working properly.
However, they are also agreed, now, that your microbiome constitutes a "second brain".
You're probably familiar with having "butterflies in your stomach" when you're nervous or existed, or going along with a "gut reaction" when you've got a decision to make.
Well, these are signals from your "second brain".
And this is what scientists have been studying and have concluded is a "brain in your gut".
This is having a major impact in the field of medicine and the understanding of the links between digestion, mood, health and even the way you think.
And, of course, they've even given it a scientific-sounding label - ENS (the Enteric Nervous System).
It's made up of two layers of more than 100 million nerve cells that line your entire digestive system from your throat to your rectum.
According to the Johns Hopkins Centre for Neurogastoenterology who are world experts on the ENS...
“The ENS doesn't seem capable of thoughts as we know them, but it communicates back and forth with our big brain - with profound results.
Its main role is controlling digestion, from swallowing to the release of enzymes that break down food to the control of blood flow that helps with nutrient absorption to elimination.”
The important nugget of information at this point is that the ENS has a direct effect on our emotional and mental well-being.
We used to think that our emotions such as anxiety and depression were the contributing factors to various gut problems.
But the researchers today are finding evidence that the opposite is true.
Irritation in the gastrointestinal system is sending signals to the central nervous system (CNS) and that is what is triggering mood changes and swinging emotional levels.
You may well think "So what? I've still got emotional and anxiety problems!"
But because we are now getting closer to discovering the precise cause of these problems, we can work on ways of healing or curing them - instead of just using the "sticking plaster" methods we've had to use so far.
Understanding that your gut health is vital to your brain health means that you can be a part of the solution to your emotional and mental challenges.
This doesn't mean that just by eating certain foods you can stop being angry.
What it does mean is that if you have wide mood swings or you suffer more than just 'the blues' and actually experience deep depression, you can be a part of the solution by changing your eating habits and reducing the stress in your life to take care of your gut.
This, in turn, will take care of your mental and emotional health.