Episode 6: The Brain and The Gut Connect - The Body's Best Friends
Updated: Jan 13, 2021
The importance of the gut-brain axis in maintaining homeostasis has long been appreciated. However, the past 15 yr have seen the emergence of the microbiome as one of the key regulators of gut-brain function and has led to the appreciation of the importance of a distinct microbiota-gut-brain axis. This axis is gaining ever more traction in fields investigating the biological and physiological basis of psychiatric, neurodevelopmental, age-related, and neurodegenerative disorders. The microbiota and the brain communicate with each other via various routes including the immune system, tryptophan metabolism, the vagus nerve and the enteric nervous system, involving microbial metabolites such as short-chain fatty acids, branched chain amino acids, and peptidoglycans. Many factors can influence microbiota composition in early life, including infection, mode of birth delivery, use of antibiotic medications, the nature of nutritional provision, environmental stressors, and host genetics. At the other extreme of life, microbial diversity diminishes with aging. Stress, in particular, can significantly impact the microbiota-gut-brain axis at all stages of life. Recent research confirms a correlation between an imbalance in the gut microbiota and the development of amyloid plaques in the brain, which are at the origin of Alzheimer’s disease.
In addition to the Brain-Gut connection - there is the Brain - Heart - Gut connection too (in reality all processes in the body are connected in what the wonderful Mae Wan Ho ‘quantum jazz’. In this podcast though, we are going to focus on the Brain-Heart-Gut Connection.
The Vagus nerve
The vagus nerve is the major pathway that connects the brain to the gut. It runs from the brain, through the lungs, heart, spleen, liver, kidneys, and down to the intestines. The stimulation of vagal fibers in the gut influences brain systems in the brainstem that play crucial roles in major psychiatric conditions, such as mood and anxiety disorders. Since, the vagal tone is correlated with capacity to regulate stress responses and can be influenced by breathing, its increase through meditation and yoga likely contribute to resilience and the mitigation of mood and anxiety symptoms.
The Vagus nerve connects the brain, heart and gut
The is a flow of information going from the brain to the gut - but also the reverse - from the gut to the brain
Dr. Jack Kruse - the gut senses light energy of food - photonic information in the food tells the body where the food came from and so provides the body with information on the environment. If we eat foods from an environment we are not in (like eating bananas in the Northern hemisphere) - there is a mismatch between the message provided to our body and the external environment - this causes issues for our physiology. We should therefore eat seasonally and locally.
Bacteria emit biophotons (light) - they use this for communication between themselves and between their human hosts.
Monitor your vagal tone using a device such as an oura ring, whoop or vagus watch - a higher HRV score (heart rate variability) indicates a better vagal tone and so a greater flexibility of physiological responses.
How to reset the balance in your gut and reduce mental imbalances:
Pay attention to what you are putting into your body
Eat local and seasonal
Reduce stress in your life
Avoid toxins - eat organic, avoid mold, avoid solvent fumes and unnecessary chemicals in foods and cosmetic products (also toxic people)
Take a probiotic with a prebiotic every now and then
Improve deep sleep
Drink bone broth
Exercise - be in nature - forest bathing, sea swimming,
How to increase diversity of gut microbiome:
How were you born? caesarean section linked to many adult diseases. Elective and electing to do it (too posh to push).
Go out in nature and breathe deeply
Exposure to microbes: Fecal transplant at the extreme end of microbe exposure - but in severe cases of gut dysbiosis - there is evidence it is beneficial.
Fermented drinks - beet kvass and kombucha - easy to make at home
Supplements - good quality probiotic can help - vary the one you take - it is all about diversity
Simple whole foods, fermented foods, bacteria yogurts,
Finland - the black stuff - products made from soil extracts
Be out in the garden - hands in the dirt
Cut out the refined sugar to prevent overgrowth of the detrimental bacteria
Lifestyle - here’s the rebel bit - ditch the horrible anti-bac hand sanitiser! - soap is fine, we do not need to cover ourselves in anti-bac because of some paranoid fear of viruses. Your immune system needs its bacteria so if you want to protect yourself - keep clean with soap and water and don’t use harsh chemicals.
Be dirty -stroke a dog, stop cleaning your house so much
Stop socially distancing with healthy people - this is not want your gut wants - hug your friends and family