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A weekly blog from the Family & Consumer Sciences Department
by Ashley Foster - May 14, 2018
That gut-wrenching feeling in the pit of your stomach is all too real – your gut is
sensitive to emotions like anger, anxiety, sadness, and joy – and your brain can react
to signals from your stomach. All the more reason to eat a balanced and nutritious
diet – so that your gut and your brain can be healthy.
The gut includes every organ involved in digesting food and processing it into waste.
The lining of your gut is often called “the second brain.”
The gut or “second brain” can operate on its own and communicates back and forth with
your actual brain. They are connected in two main ways:
The vagus nerve, which controls messages to the gut as well as the heart, lungs, and
other vital organs is the gut’s direct connection to the brain.
The gut also connects with the brain through chemicals like hormones and neurotransmitters
that send messages.
The chemical messages that pass between the gut and the brain can be affected by the
bacteria, viruses, and fungi that live in the gut called the “gut microbiome.”The bacteria, viruses, and fungi that live in the gut may be beneficial, harmless,
There is a strong relationship between having mental health problems and having gastrointestinal
symptoms like heartburn, indigestion, acid reflux, bloating, pain, constipation, and/or
Research in animals has shown that changes in the gut microbiome and inflammation
in the gut can affect the brain and cause symptoms that look like Parkinson’s disease,
autism, anxiety and depression.
Having anxiety and depression can cause changes in the gut microbiome because of what
happens in the body when it has a stress response.
Eating a balanced and nutritious diet is the most important thing a person can do
to keep their gut healthy.
Eat a diet full of whole grains, lean meats, fish, fruits, and vegetables.
Base your diet on sugary, fried, or processed foods and soft drinks.
Feed the good bacteria, viruses, and fungi that live in the gut what they like to
help them grow. These foods are called prebiotics.
You can also eat bacteria. Probiotics are live bacteria that exist in foods.
Reference: Mental Health America