The Gut / Brain Connection

We are an ecosystem within an ecosystem. Since humans have walked the planet, we have always had a symbiotic relationship with microbes. The majority of these microbes (95%) reside in our large intestines – thus when we refer to our microbiome, we are often referring to our gut microbiome. It’s difficult to appreciate the magnitude and power of our microbiome. In terms of human versus microbial cells, we are perhaps 10% human; in terms of genetic material, we are probably less than 1% human.

We feed these microbes and, in return, they produce many of the metabolites our bodies require for proper function. For example, there are roughly 60 species called the estrobolome that help balance Estrogen levels. In terms of mental wellness and the brain, there are a number of microbes that produce the majority of our Serotonin (happy hormone/neurotransmitter), GABA (calm), Norepinephrine (focus), and Dopamine (motivation). Further, roughly 80% of our immune system resides in our gut. A huge factor in how we feel mentally and physically is the state of our immune system and inflammation. A diverse, well-balanced microbiome will help control the amount of inflammation in our bodies and our brains. Our microbiome is often referred to as our ‘second brain.’

Our microbiome ‘talks’ to our first brain via our endocrine system, our immune system, and the vagus nerve. This piece of the system is called the ‘axis.’ When we don’t feel optimal and full of vigor, the issue could be in the body (gut), the brain (too much inflammation), or in the communication system in between (axis).

What impacts our microbiome? From the food we eat to the medicine we take, the quality of our soil, toxins in everything around us, and stress, we are, in many ways, under attack. We can work to control and alleviate many of these factors, but we cannot live in a vacuum. It’s impossible to control every variable. That’s why we provide support along the gut/brain axis – to heal our bodies and restore balance to our microbiome.

I’ve included some of my favorite articles about the microbiome, the gut-brain axis, and inflammation. Please feel free to reach out with questions or to discuss one area of interest in more detail.

What is Neuroplasticity?

We may not realize it, but we have the ability, throughout adulthood, to create new patterns, synaptic pathways — the science of NEUROPLASTICITY. We think the same thoughts day to day. About 90% are re-runs. We travel this path of least resistance because it’s easier and requires less energy. But we have the ability to change that. Create new paths, new responses to people and situations.

Resources

Our Brains are Plastic

Melissa Bloom on Neuroplasticity

The Gut Brain Connection

Healthline

The Gut-Brain Axis Is More Important Than We Thought

Psychology Today

Axis of Health: Gut, Microbiome and Brain

The Brain Health Revolution Podcast