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Gut – brain relationship

I’ve always loved food, and my fascination with it grew around 10 years ago! This started my journey in trying to understand the alchemy of food.

I was curious as to:

  • Why do certain foods make me feel anxious?
  • Why do I crave certain types of food when I’m feeling a particular way?
  • How can I overcome the ups/down of dopamine/serotonin hit?

I discovered books/research papers that talked about the relationship between our guts and brain. How there are millions of nerves that run from your gut to your brain. Scientists often refer to this as your second brain. And how having an unhealthy gut can often lead to fluctuations in mood which can rear its head not only affecting your physical health but also your mental health.

So what did I learn?

The gut brain axis is a network of nerves that communicate from your gut to your brain, known as the enteric nervous system (ENS).

So how are they interlinked?

The nerves that link the ENS to your brain is called the vagus nerve. It’s the longest nerve in your body. (Not only connecting your brain to your gut. But other parts of the body too).

Messages are sent from your brain to your gut, and vice versa. It’s easier to picture if you think  of the vagus nerve as a network of cables ferrying msgs from one place to another.

Why is this important?

Research suggests that our gut-brain axis can influence how we deal with stress. And the microbes in our gut can communicate with our brain – thus influencing how we handle stress.

Think of a time when you’ve had to give a really important presentation – and that gut churning feeling you get ahead of time/during even perhaps, that is the gut-brain axis working in its all glory!

How can I help myself?

(Personal experience only – not medical advice)

The gut-brain relationship is far more complex than just what you eat. Whilst foods can certainly help. The obvious being eat foods rich in pro-biotics, eat more fibre. A Healthy gut is a happy gut. There are other things that can immensely support the gut-brain relationship. To truly master the gut-brain relationship, being active to stimulate the ENS, meditating to bring yourself into a state of calmness are all aspects of it. 

The  best thing I discovered on my journey was the alkaline diet – a diet that claims to rejuvenate the cells by reducing mucus in the system. Combining the alkaline diet with daily morning meditation and being active every 2 hours for even two minutes to keep my metabolic system running. 

If you want to read further or test it out for yourself:

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Shaz Parveen
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