Gut-Brain connection - myth or fact
Research has proven that there is definitely a connection between the gut and brain. This connection is called the gut brain axis, a term that refers to the communication system that connects your gut and brain.
The gut and brain are connected biochemically by neurotransmitters and physically by the vagus nerve and the nervous system.
The vagus nerve runs from the brain through the face and thorax to the abdomen. It is one of the biggest nerves that connects your brain and gut which sends signals in both directions.
In a study done on mice in 2011 it was discovered feeding them a probiotic reduced the amount of stress hormone in their blood. When the vagus nerve was cut (vagotomised) the probiotic had no effect. This study demonstrates that the vagus nerve is important in the gut-brain axis.
The central nervous system and the enteric nervous system (which is a mesh like system of neurons that govern the function of the GI tract) link both the emotional and cognitive centre of the brain with intestinal functions and mechanisms like intestinal permeability. (Intestinal permeability is a term describing the control of material passing from inside the gastrointestinal tract through the cells lining the gut wall, into the rest of the body.)
Increasing evidence shows us that the gut microbiota (gut flora) plays an important role as it communicates with the central nervous system by sending out and receiving information which influences brain function as well as behaviour. So ensuring a healthy gut, with the use of probiotics and prebiotics (food that stimulates the growth of probiotics in the intestinal tract i.e. garlic, onions, asparagus, bananas, wheat, barley, oats, chicory and honey), will help restore the good flora and may improve your brain health.