This week I attended a continuing education course conducted by the Institute for Brain Potential. The course was titled The Gut-Brain Connection, and it detailed the connection between the two.
You might be thinking, “What connection? What exactly does my brain have to do with my gut?” Interestingly enough, medical science is now showing that there is more to this connection than you can imagine. What is now being proven through medical studies is that we, as human beings, each have two brains. Now I know that some of you may have been told a time or two that you don’t even have one whole brain, much less two, or I’m sure you probably know or live with someone that acts like they have half a brain sometimes, but the fact is that we each have two. The brain that everyone is familiar with sits on top of your shoulders encased in your skull, and the more unfamiliar brain is found in the center of your body, in the gut. The upper brain is part of the central nervous system whereas the lower brain is part of the enteric nervous system. What science is now showing is that these two nervous systems are interconnected, meaning that if something disrupts one, it can disrupt the other.
There are a couple of good illustrations I use to explain this connection to people. The first one is this: Think about a time when you have been really nervous, maybe you had to stand up in front of a crowd and give a speech or presentation. Thinking about what you were going to have to go through with your upper brain caused a disturbance in your lower brain. The most common effect is butterflies in the stomach, but it could have been as serious as nausea or diarrhea. All of that because of your nervous emotions and thoughts! The second example I share with people is the medications that are used to treat neurological and nervous system issues. These medications work through the central nervous system (upper brain), and if you have ever taken any of them then I’m sure you are familiar with the major side effects: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation. All effects on the gut! If we take a look at the inverse relationship to see how the enteric nervous system (lower brain) can effect the central nervous system then a great illustration is the little known condition called dysbiosis. Dysbiosis is the term used to describe an imbalance in the normal flora or good bacteria found in the gut. People suffering from this dysbiotic condition tend to have trouble with memory, focus, and concentration. These people often describe it as having a “foggy brain.” Dysbiosis is a condition that is typically overlooked by most medical professionals, but it is a problem that is becoming more and more common. Many psychological and neurological problems or disorders that people are suffering from today have now been linked to dysbiosis. As I learned in the course this week, fortunately dysbiosis is a condition that can be corrected with proper diet and supplementation. If you think that you may have dysbiosis then I would highly recommend that you contact me or your health care professional to find out what you can do to correct it. Some of the more common symptoms associated with dysbiosis are chronic bad breath, foul smelling gas, itchy skin, rashes, and bowel dysfunction, such as: loose stools, diarrhea, or constipation. Dysbiosis most often occurs in people who have taken multiple antibiotics, take anti-inflammatory medications on a regular basis, or people who deal with chronic stress. Studies are also showing that babies born by Ceserean Section are more likely to develop dysbiosis of the gut.
If you know that you have dysbiosis, then here is what I would recommend that you do! First, eliminate all white foods from your diet. That includes anything made from sugar, processed flour, and dairy. I would also recommend eliminating all starchy foods such as white potatoes or white rice. Second, increase vegetables in your diets and proteins rich in Omega 3s such as fish and nuts. Third, you need to be taking a good broad spectrum probiotic. Probiotics are the good bacteria, or good bugs, that I have spoken about in previous blogs. If you are suffering from dysbiosis, then don’t wait and start this protocol immediately! Your brain will thank you, your gut will thank you, and your whole body will thank you, as well as the people around you I’m sure!
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