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The gut-brain connection. Why your brain isn’t where you think it is

by | Mar 3, 2017 | Digestion

The gut-brain connection

 

Today I want to share something with you that will change the way you look at your body and the world around you. The gut-brain connection not yet widely known but I think this concept will become more important into the future and (I’m going with big prediction here…) understanding this concept will prove to be a crucial step for saving our species: your brain isn’t where you think it is.

 

What am I talking about? Your brain controls your body and all its functions. It is the primary organ that receives, processes and sends out information that allows you to breathe, eat, move, think – everything! It’s in your head, it’s heavy and it’s big, relative to other species on the planet.

 

To me, this concept is kinda like when people thought the Earth was flat.

 

It made perfect sense, until it didn’t… because a new understanding of how the world actually is came to light. This is the same thing. The brain in your head making your body work makes sense until you understand that you have a second brain… in your gut. This second brain is made of all the gut bacteria that reside in your intestines, all 3 billion of them.

 

There’s another brain in your gut.

We’re going to discuss the ins and outs of good vs bad bacteria another day so for now I’ll just stick with bacteria as a collective term.

 

So all of these different bacteria that live in your gut do amazing things like make hormones (serotonin) and vitamins (vitamin D), they create food for themselves (prebiotics, FOS and GOS) and break down your food so you can actually digest and absorb it.

 

They also send information to your brain, the one in your head. They send up lots of information some of which governs your mood, whether you’re full or hungry and cravings among other things. Yes – they actually tell your brain what type of food they want to eat! Crazy huh? That old saying, “it’s not me it’s my hormones” should actually be “It’s not me, it’s my gut bacteria.”

 

How altering the bacteria in your gut affects the gut-brain connection

 

If the types of bacteria living in your gut determine what kind of information they’re sending to your brain then ultimately, you want a diverse range of bacteria – a community if you like – that all live happily together and work for you, not against you.

 

Why do you want diversity? The alternative is a monoculture, where one or two species of bacteria is dominate in your gut and regardless of whether they’re “good” or “bad” bacteria, this often leads to symptoms like candida, constipation, IBS and inflammation.

 

Do you want bacteria that says please give us chocolate and sugar? Or do you want bacteria that says please give us some more low GI grains and vegetables? Clearly I’ve simplified the messages they’re sending but you get the idea.

 

So how do you go about changing the type of bacteria in your gut? Good question! We cover that in detail during the 30 day gut health challenge but for today, I’ll go over a few things you can start doing today:

 

  • Eat different types of yoghurt, fermented foods, sourdough and kefir. These will all contain different types of bacteria and you’re aiming for a really diverse community of gut bacteria.
  • Change up your probiotic supplement if you take one. Taking the same one all the time is setting you up to create a monoculture and regardless of whether it’s “good” or “bad” bacteria, a monoculture is not going to improve your gut health.
  • Make sure you’re providing your bacteria with the right food they need to thrive. FOS, GOS and prebiotics are essential. This is a bit harder on the Low FODMAP diet because some of the typical prebiotic foods are high in FODMAPs so check the Monash Low FODMAP App before you go filling your shopping trolley. (Haven’t bought the App yet? Seriously, it’s the best $11.99 you’ll spend on your gut. Click here and get it now.)

 

How will the concept of the gut-brain connection help save your life?

 

Well you know how we humans are having a little difficulty with antibiotic resistance at the moment? We were a bit too free and easy with antibiotics and now it’s coming back to bite us in the butt.

 

There are cases in the news from time to time (as recently as last week in the USA) of people dying of relatively innocuous viral or bacterial infections that are no longer responding to ANY known antibiotics.

 

Bacteria and viruses are constantly evolving and the little buggers are evolving to survive our attempts to annihilate them. The result will be that they will be able to annihilate us and while that might be generations away it’s a real possibility… but how does that help you now?

 

How the gut-brain connection affects your overall health

 

Creating a healthy, thriving gut bacteria community relieves IBS symptoms like bloating, constipation, candida and reduce cravings because your gut bacteria break down your food and even digest some of it, ready for you to absorb.

 

It also improves mood, stabilises blood sugar and if you’re still not convinced, research has shown gut bacteria may even control our weight!

 

Although it takes time to develop a thriving, diverse community of gut bacteria that work in your favour, it’s well worth the effort and will pay dividends to your overall health for years and years to come.

 

We talk more about the gut-brain connection and how you can heal your own gut and resolve problems like IBS, mood disorders and skin conditions in Leaky Gut Bootcamp: 28 days to transform your gut health. Come join us for a live round of the bootcamp in September 2017!

 

Remember, don’t wait another day to start feeling better. You deserve a healthy gut.

Kate x