Research Thursdays: Is the Gut our Second Brain?

Did you know you have a second brain? For a few years now the medical community has studied the “brain in our gut”, otherwise known as the enteric nervous system (ENS). In a short article researchers from John Hopkins Medicine discuss the effect of gut health on mental wellbeing:

Unlike the big brain in your skull, the ENS can’t balance your checkbook or compose a love note. “Its main role is controlling digestion, from swallowing to the release of enzymes that break down food to the control of blood flow that helps with nutrient absorption to elimination,” explains Jay Pasricha, M.D., director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Neurogastroenterology

To do all of the above, the gut must be an excellent communicator, sending millions of messages to the big brain in our skull. This means that what’s happening in our stomach can affect our mental state.

“For decades, researchers and doctors thought that anxiety and depression contributed to these problems. But our studies and others show that it may also be the other way around,” Pasricha says. Researchers are finding evidence that irritation in the gastrointestinal system may send signals to the central nervous system (CNS) that trigger mood changes.

To read the full excerpt and see link to the original research article visit the Curated Content page.

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