Feeding The Second Brain For Mood-Boosting & Mental Focus!

A decade ago I found feng shui and started studying and playing with the ideas while I recovered from an autoimmune condition that felt as though it decimated me.  I was home for months after a month in the hospital and I have to say, I couldn’t really find a way to feel like myself – emotionally speaking- even as medications seemed to somewhat help me improve a bit.  Looking back, for nearly 5 years before that I hadn’t intellectually felt like myself, and my moods had swung all over the map.  In a sort of Buddhist miracle, after praying for nearly a day straight I found the then little-known book Breaking the Viscious Cycle.   It was all about the SCD diet and healing autoimmune issues with food.

A few months into the diet, I was off medication and truly feeling… like me.  Like me from 5 years before this.  Like me at my mental best.  Like me in happiness most of the time.  In fact, my mind and mood improved so much, it became almost a no-brainer to sift through life and start reorganizing things.

I never really understood what happened until I learned about the second brain we have in our digestive system.  It explains so much of how food + mood are related, how out body ecology affects our lives and so so so much more of what I realized as I filled up with probiotics and created a supercharged nutritional life! 

“There’s a “second brain” in your intestines that contains 100,000 neurons that’s been called the “backup brain”. (* BeBrainFit)

What are neurons? They are the fundamental building blocks of our nervous system that transmit nerve impulses. They send information (signals) from our brain to our body, or in the case of your enteric nervous system, they send messages from your digestive system or gut, to your brain.

The medical term for this system is called the enteric nervous system, which is located in our gastrointestinal system, starting with the esophagus and ending with the rectum.

In our gut, or our digestive system, there are many neurons that enable our bodies to break down food, absorb the nutrients in the foods we eat and are an essential aid in the digestive process.

The link between our gut and brain is our vagus nerve, which extends from our brain stem all the way down to our gut.

According to the highly-regarded news source, Scientific American:

“The enteric nervous system uses more than 30 neurotransmitters, just like the brain, and in fact 95 percent of the body’s serotonin is found in the bowels.”

Emeran Mayer, professor of physiology, psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, states, “The system is way too complicated to have evolved only to make sure things move out of your colon…A big part of our emotions are probably influenced by the nerves in our gut” (the entire article is HERE)

Now, it is believed that the microbiota of our gut (clusters of good and bad bacteria) can influence the production of dopamine and serotonin (neurotransmitters that are associated with happiness).  The health of your gut has been proven to affect your mood.

A study conducted in 2004, entitled, “Gut emotions – mechanisms of action of probiotics as novel therapeutic targets for depression and anxiety disorders.”, found that rats were deemed depressed and anxious, were significantly better after being given probiotics.

This abstract is also fascinating: “A variety of strategies have been used to study the impact of the microbiota on brain function and these include antibiotic use, probiotic treatments, fecal microbiota transplantation, gastrointestinal infection studies, and germ-free studies. All of these approaches provide evidence to support the view that the microbiota can influence brain chemistry and consequently behavior.”

In an article in Nature entitled “Pharmacological inhibition of gut-derived serotonin synthesis is a potential bone anabolic treatment for osteoporosis” , they found that the serotonin that is produced in the gut can counteract the bone deteriorating disease called osteoporosis in rats that are post-menopausal.

There are very clear and proven ways that your gut ecology affects your mental wellbeing and perhaps your intuition (gut feelings) and even your mental focus, acuity and overall feeling of wellbeing.

What I realized when I was sick and then got well over a year’s time wasn’t a coincidence: my microbiome, my digestive wellbeing, my body’s ecology had a direct impact on my mood, my levels of inspiration and my ability to get things done!

Ways to Create or Refurbish Your Own Gut Flora:

Dr. Axe has some great suggestions HERE including:  going gluten-free, taking probiotics and more.

I am forever a fan of the SCD diet, and I’ve been doing this for 10+ years now… it is amazing. 

And… eat in ways that enhance your microbiome!

Some food for thought- literally- today!

xoxo Dana

 

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