Our bodies contain a second nervous system, separate from our brains, made up of about 500 million neurons that contribute to your physical and mental well-being.
Meet your stomach. With its vast network of neurons lining the stomach, it is often referred to as the “second brain” in our bodies. This enteric nervous system in our stomach goes far beyond simply processing the food we eat and giving us “butterflies” when we are anxious. The “brain” in our stomachs, in connection with the brain in our skulls, contributes to our mental state and plays key roles with some diseases in our body.
The condition of our stomachs will directly correlate to brain function. Your gut produces more hormones than any other part of your body, including 95% of the body’s serotonin. When your gut isn’t functioning properly, you could experience emotional distress. Up to 90% of people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) also suffer from mental-health issues. This relationship between the two brains may also cause other diseases, like osteoporosis, since the gut regulates bone mass.
So, what you put in your stomach can directly affect your mental and physical functionality.
When our stomach does not function properly, it indicates an imbalance. Cutting-edge research is investigating how the stomach controls the body’s immune response and function. At least 70% of our immune system is a function of the gut, which is responsible for expelling and killing foreign invaders. Trillions of microscopic bacteria fill our stomach (called the intestinal microbiome) and are essential to life as they help the body extract nutrients from food, regulate tissue development and kill off germs.
If we aren’t feeding our stomachs with the right nutrients, these vital bacteria are not able to do their job. It is believed that our modern diet of processed foods is disrupting the function of the microbiome in our stomachs, therefore our stomach function. In addition, excess amounts of stress, alcohol and antibiotic medications destroy these beneficial bacteria.
There are ways to recoup the healthy balance in your stomach. This includes swapping junk foods for natural, healthy foods, getting outside, exercising to relieve stress and adding probiotics to your diet to balance the healthy bacteria in your gut.
From a personal perspective, my son was getting sick every month, to the day. We thought he had an immunity problem. After a lot of blood work and many doctors’ appointments, nothing was found. I decided to put him on Florastor Kids probiotic to see if it was an issue with the balance of the bacteria in his stomach and it literally fixed him. He has not been sick since. I am a believer in probiotics.
Future research will continue to help us discover the connection between the two brains and the impact it has on our health. For now, it is important to feed your stomach (and hence, your mind) with healthy, natural foods as often as possible and keep a high activity level to maintain a natural balance in your body.
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