How Does The Gut-Brain Connection Work?

The gut-brain connection may be the reason you are suffering from stomach issues due to increased anxiety or vice versa. 


-Gut-wrenching 

-Butterflies in the stomach

-Gut feeling


We use these words for expressing experiences but have it ever occurred to you that your brain and gut are connected and it is the emotions that you feel in your brain that can trigger symptoms in your gut.


The brain has a direct effect on our gut


Think about it, when you simply think about eating, the reaction can be experienced as a rumbling in your stomach. A troubled brain sends the signal to the stomach and a troubled stomach sends the signal to the brain, the gut-brain connection is both ways and the communication system between the gut and brain is called the gut-brain axis.


These two organs are connected physically and biochemically in a number of ways:


  1. The vagus nerve is one of the biggest nerves connecting the gut and brain. 
  2. The gut and brain are also connected through chemicals called neurotransmitters.
  3. The microbes that live in the gut make chemicals that affect how the brain works.
  4. The gut-brain axis is also connected through the immune system.

Gut-brain connection and anxiety


Now that you know how closely your brain and gut work you’d understand why you feel nervous before the big presentation or why you experience cramps in your stomach in situations of stress. Also,  people with functional GI disorders perceive pain more acutely than others as their brains are more responsive to GI tract pain signals.  


If you are experiencing gastrointestinal upset with no obvious physical cause, it could be the product of anxiety, stress or depression. It is one of the main reasons that to heal a distressed gut, holistic health experts take into consideration the role of stress and emotion.


A mind-body approach to GI ailments or brain health


The brain-gut connection is strong and to heal any related issue holistic health experts recommend using mind-body tools such as meditation, mindfulness, breathing exercises, acupuncture, TCM as they all have been shown to improve mood while decreasing anxiety. 


Also, certain kinds of foods can be helpful to maintain a healthy gut-brain, these include food rich in:


  • Omega 3
  • Fiber
  • Fermented
  • Polyphenol 
  • Tryptophan

A combination of diet, mind-body tools, a healthy lifestyle can help you maintain a healthy brain-gut connection. 


Want to learn more about the brain-gut connection? Get answers to your questions about brain-gut connection or find a holistic practitioner specific to your needs.