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The Gut-Brain Connection

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If you’ve ever had a gut feeling, then you know exactly what the gut-brain connection is.

The gut-brain connection is bi-directional communication between the gut and the brain. We know that the vagus nerve is connected to the gut and plays a crucial role in modulating the enteric nervous system, which is a complex network of nerves that are located in the wall of the upper intestinal tract. This is a nervous system that is able to function entirely on its own, away from the central nervous system, which is composed of the spinal cord and the brain. Scientists have labelled it the ‘second brain’ due to its independent nature and its ability to communicate with the brain, which is where the vagus nerve comes into playThe vagus nerve is essentially the ‘bridge’ between the brain and the gut, facilitating a bi-directional communication between the two organs. 

Here are 5 simple things you can do to help stimulate the vagus nerve and parasympathetic nervous system:

1. Practice deep breathing.

When your exhale is even a few counts longer than your inhale, the vagus nerve sends a signal to your brain to turn up your parasympathetic nervous system.

2. Take a cold shower.

Even just ending your shower with a 1-minute blast of cold water is enough. Studies have shown that acute cold exposure activates the vagus nerve, as well as various neurons on the vagus nerve pathway, causing a shift toward the parasympathetic nervous system. If you’re interested in finding out more about deep breathing and cold showers, look into the Wim Hof Method.

3. Maintain a healthy weight.

This is because obesity and gut inflammation can disrupt vagal activity and negatively affect the connection between the brain and the gastrointestinal tract.

4. Make sure you have regular bowel movements and do a #2 daily.

Consuming plenty of fibre-rich foods and doing regular exercise can help. This is important because healthy elimination ensures less stagnation of inflammatory food residues in the colon and also a less hospitable environment for unwanted organisms that can impair communication between the brain and the gut.

5. Limit sugar in your diet.

This is because excessive sugar causes chronic inflammation as well as impairs cellular feedback loops and other signalling pathways.

Contact Provolution Health today to schedule your appointment on 6299 2660.


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