Have you ever heard the expression: "The gut is the second brain?" That's not just because hunger pings can turn you into a hangry grump. Your gut and brain are in constant communication and are regulated by a series of nerves known as the vagus nerve. Maintaining a healthy balance of probiotic gut bacteria and vagus nerve stimulation is key to promoting a healthy gut-brain connection. Here's everything you need to know about both brains!
What Is the Gut-Brain Connection?
The gut-brain connection is a symbiotic relationship where the brain and gut remain in constant communication. This communication dictates everything from hunger levels to pain perception to mood.
Your brain speaks on behalf of your body's cells. Cells comprise organs, bones, and the brain itself. They all require nutrients, which are obtained by the digestive tract breaking down foods.
The gut breaks down these foods, much in thanks to microbes in our guts, including bacteria, yeast, fungi, and viruses. Bacteria are the most widely studied microbes because they have shown to be very beneficial in modulating the gut-brain axis.
How Does the Gut-Brain Axis Work?
All over cells are in continuous communication via receptors on them. However, there is one integral communication hub that serves as a direct line from the brain to the gut. This network is a series of nerves collectively known as the vagus nerve.
The vagus nerve descends from the brainstem and coils into the colon. Along the way, neural pathways branch off, interacting with almost every organ in the body.
These nerves have tiny hairs that pick up on any changes in the environment. The vagus nerve will communicate any issues back to the brain.
For instance, inflammation in the gut may cause an adverse reaction along the vagus nerve. The mind will interpret this signal and promote the body to produce substance P, our pain perception. In turn, we'll experience digestive issues.
Discomfort in the stomach is your mind's way of telling you to fix what's going on in your gut. When we ignore these symptoms, they only persist until we develop a disease. Listen to your gut-brain connection by paying closer attention to your symptoms to promote better mental and physical health.
How to Improve Gut Health and Mood Swings
Our bodies rely on a state of balance to run optimally. Mental health requires a balance of hormones, while gut health is determined by gut bacteria diversity. Here are some tips for treading that fine line healthily.
Eat A Balanced Diet
As we've discussed, nutrients are the catalysts for good mental and physical health. Both the gut and brain have unique preferences that must be met to achieve a balanced and healthy diet.
Healthy gut bacteria rely on carbohydrates, known as prebiotics, for energy. So, do pathogenic bacteria. The quality of your carbs will shift the balance in either direction.
Refined carbs found in bread, sugars, and processed meals boost levels of harmful bacteria in the gut. Consuming complex carbs like sweet potatoes, leafy greens, and whole grains will increase your healthy bacteria.
Eating fruits are a great way to provide short bursts of energy to probiotic bacteria. They also provide the body with antioxidants that heal oxidative stress caused by pathogenic bacteria.
The brain requires healthy fats found in omega-3s. That's why the Mediterranean Diet is so effective for Alzheimer's Prevention. Their diet is abundant with omega-3-rich products, like fish, nuts, seeds, and olive leaf extract.
Omega-3 fatty acids prevent the build-up of beta-amyloid protein in the brain. These proteins deplete grey matter, which causes cognitive decline associated with dementia.
Fatty acids are essential for repairing brain tissue damaged by inflammation caused by too many omega-6 fatty acids. The Western Diet is teeming with omega-6 fatty acids.
These fatty acids litter the gut lining, which can cause inflammation in the digestive tract. That's why the Western Diet is associated with low bacterial diversity.
High-Quality Probiotic Supplements
Taking a high-quality probiotic supplement is an excellent way to shift the balance back to positive within your gut. The key to taking probiotics successfully is to diversify your gut. There are hundreds of bacteria strains, with each providing a unique benefit to your body.
Consider using a high-quality probiotic with bacteria scientifically proven to influence mood. In fact, a healthy gut produces up to 80% of your body's serotonin.
Serotonin is your body's joy molecule. It helps the mundane feel like less of a chore and gives you a sense of purpose. This hormone also regulates our waking cycles and influences our appetite.
The best probiotics for mental health contain specific strains classified as psychobiotics. Two of the most common probiotic genera that act as psychobiotics are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.
Studies suggest that species within this genera may influence:
- Depressive Mood State
- Sleep Quality
Newport Natural Health's Microencapsulated Probiotics contain a spectrum of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium that improve serotonin production, cognitive function, and overall mood.
This strain-specific formula is enriched with Fructooligosaccharide (FOS). FOS is a carbohydrate that serves as energy for your probiotic bacteria. That way, these strains have a better chance of acclimating to your gut.
Vagus Nerve Stimulation
Healthy gut bacteria are proven modulators of your vagus nerve. However, there are many other natural ways to improve its tonal output.
Your vagus nerve is very sensitive. There are little things you can do that will stimulate the vagus nerve, including:
- Consuming Omega-3 Fatty Acids
During vagal stimulation, your body will produce endorphins. These hormones will shift your perception and help maintain a balance between stress and gut health.
Tranquility Labs' Tranquilene Total Calm
There are so many factors that weigh on our gut and mental health. Sometimes, your body just needs extra support. Find hormonal balance with all-natural supplements, like Tranquility Labs' Tranquilene Total Calm.
This formula is fortified with botanicals, vitamins, and minerals that support serotonin production. Not only will your mind appreciate the extra brainpower, but it will take some burden off your probiotic bacteria.
However, this formula is also created to optimize GABA production. GABA is your body's inhibitory hormone. It helps calm the system when receptors become overly stimulated.
Using Tranquility Labs' Tranquilene Total Calm will help naturally lower stress levels. In turn, your vagus nerve will interact optimally with your gut. You will be less likely to experience stomach knots, bloating, or constipation that's typically associated with chronic stress.
Biohack Your Wellness Through the Gut-Brain Axis
Tending to the gut is like tending to the mind and vice versa. Instead of looking at one as the "first brain" or the "second brain," look at them as two ends of the same system.
The key to keeping a healthy gut is to keep your mind strong. Consume plenty of omega-3s to prevent atrophy. Otherwise, your stomach will miss satiety signals, such as the body is full. In turn, you can run the risk of overeating and developing weight-related issues.
You must also plenty of complex carbohydrates. These foods feed the probiotic bacteria in your stomach that break down your foods. These bacteria reward you with feel-good hormones, like serotonin.
Bridge the gap along the gut-brain axis through vagus nerve stimulation, psychobiotics like Newport Natural Health's Microencapsulated Probiotics, and hormone-boosting supplements like Tranquility Labs' Tranquilene Total Calm. By tending to the gut-brain connection, wellness will come naturally!
- The gut-brain connection is regulated by the vagus nerve
- Probiotic bacteria help with serotonin production
- Unhealthy diets can destroy gut bacteria and brain cells
BONUS RECIPE: Gut-friendly smoothie
- banana 1 ripe
- kefir 350ml
- mixed frozen berries 75g
- whole almonds 40g
- maple syrup or runny honey 1 tbsp
- Put everything into a blender or food processor and whizz until completely smooth.
- Pour into 2 glasses and serve.