The Brain In Your Gut
Within the walls of your digestive system resides what some people call “the brain in your gut.” This “brain” is the enteric nervous system or ENS, and it is revolutionizing the medical understanding of the interconnectedness of the human body, specifically between digestive and emotional health.
The ENS lines the entire gastrointestinal tract and consists of over 100 million nerve cells. This system uses various neurotransmitters to communicate between the gut and brain. In other words, just like the brain influences mood and cognitive function, so does the digestive system.
For example, 95% of serotonin, a hormone responsible for happiness, is housed in the gut. Therefore, a chemical imbalance within the gut negatively affects the risk of severe and chronic depression. (This is important to note when addressing digestive dysfunctions and gut-related illnesses.)
In the past, anxiety, and depression were thought to single-handedly cause digestive discomfort, but studies have since revealed it goes the other way around as well. Instead, the gastrointestinal issues are also breeding these emotional difficulties.
So, what can be done?
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