Have you ever wondered that there can be a connection between your gut flora and brain? What is this chain of connections that is changing the way medicine interprets our moods, health, digestion, and entire well-being? Well, the answer lies in the gut-brain connection. Let’s unravel what this connection is about that has revolutionized modern medicine.
The Gut-Brain Connection!
The gut is the organ in your body with the highest number of immune cells. It is also called the “second brain” because of the presence of the enteric nervous system (ENS), which is the neural system of the gastrointestinal tract. This is due to the fact that it regulates a wide range of gastrointestinal activities, communicates with the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord), but it might also work independently of them. It also provides significant information as a fundamental link between global disease epidemics like obesity, mental health, and IBS. The gut-brain axis is the signaling between the brain and the intestine.
The gut flora or gut microbiome is made up of billions of microorganisms that live in the gut (which is part of the ENS). This gut community, like fingerprints, is specific to each person and begins colonizing the stomach from birth. The gut microbiome’s diversity and composition fluctuate over time as a result of several factors such as nutrition, hormones, medications, emotional state, and gastrointestinal diseases. A gastrointestinal infection, in reality, changes the gut microbiota, contributing to post-infectious IBS.
The inclusion of a healthy, balanced medium in the stomach can aid in the absorption of nutrients from meals as well as the prevention of dangerous bacteria invasion. It also assists in the training of immune cells to recognize attackers. In managing brain-controlled function and behavior, this colony of cells has been termed the “peacekeeper”.
Revisiting the stress and IBS relationship
Earlier, it was considered that anxiety, stress, and depression contributed to gastrointestinal disorders like IBS, but new evidence suggests that it could also be the other way around. IBS, a significant chronic gastrointestinal condition, is linked to a bacterial imbalance in the gut. This gut imbalance can send messages and impulses to the brain, causing mood swings. These discoveries could explain why people with IBS and functional bowel disorders (such as constipation, diarrhea, bloating, and abdominal discomfort) experience anxiety and sadness.
Integrative medicine provides better treatment
IBS and other digestive problems can be cured using an integrative strategy that focuses on both gastrointestinal and behavioral medicine because of the brain-gut axis. Here are four things to remember to help mold your gut bacteria for the best possible health, decrease discomfort, and manage persistent symptoms.
Diet has a big impact on the gut microbiome’s composition. Reduced dietary intake of fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols (FODMAPs) has lately been proven to alter the gut microbiota, improving IBS symptoms and standard of living in individuals with IBS. Wheat, milk, onions, and honey are all examples of FODMAP foods. Including fiber (especially fiber-rich foods like spinach) and probiotics, on the other hand, may have a good influence on the composition of your gut flora.
Regular exercise helps to enhance and maintain the diversity of gut flora. It could be used as a therapy to sustain or regulate gut bacteria, hence enhancing overall health.
Antibiotics should only be used when absolutely necessary or as prescribed by your doctor, as they can reduce the richness of your microbiome.
Stress reduction can aid in the maintenance of a healthy gut. There are three medically reviewed psychotherapy treatments i.e., Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR), and guided meditation can be beneficial.
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