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Stress and Your Gut. Why is there such a strong connection?

By Danielle Elliott
from Tummy Rescue

There is more and more research being done into how the brain and digestive system (our gut) influence each other. All the evidance and studies are proving that the link is very strong and that they both affect each other. In other words the brain does control the function of the gut, but the gut can have major effects on our brain and mood too.

The nervous system within the gut is made up of neurons, which are nerve cells that conduct messages, numbers are estimated at 200-600 million neurons. Aside from the spinal cord, the gut is thought to contain the highest number of neurons compared to any other peripharal organ.

The gut and brain (central nervous system) are connected by the Vagus Nerve which innervates the esopahgus, stomach, intestines and other digestive organs.

The gut is controlled by both the nervous system in the gut and the central nervous system in the brain. The nervous system controls many functions of the gut, which include the following:

Determining the rate of movement and peristalsis of the gut

This will have an effect on how quickly or slowly your food moves through your digestive system, which will in the end, determine how well you break down and absorb nutrients. It will also effect your bowel motions and even your chance of developing gut conditions. Stress can speed up or slow down peristalsis.

Control the release of your digestive enzymes

The proper release of enzymes from the stomach, gallbladder, pancreas and mucous layers is essential for the breakdown of your food and for healthy bowel motions. Stress tends to slow down the production and release of enzymes

Regulate local blood flow

When we eat a meal we require more blood to be directed to the digestive organs so that they can efficiently do their work by moving the food through. Stress whether mental, emotional or physical redirects blood to the brain and limbs.

Maintain the integrity of the gut barrier

The lining of the gut needs to be healthy and in tact, that way it can protect us by only allowing the passage of water and nutrients into the bloodstream. A leaky gut allows for the passage of undigested food fragments and pathogens into the blood stream. Stress is a contributing factor to leaky gut.

Communicate sensory information to the rest of the nervous system, including the brain

As we have seen stress can create many problems in the digestive tract, including a slowing down of digestion and reducing function. These two things can lead to an imbalance of bacteria, inflammation and immune activation.

When all of these issues are going on inside your gut, it can mean your neurons in the gut become hyper-responsive to stimuli. This means they become more sensitive to sensations, which is interpreted abnormally by the nervous system and results in excess pain perception.

Since there is such a strong connection between the gut and brain, it makes it essential to address this as part of treatment. If you want to reduce your symptoms of bloating, pain and gas, then you need to support the nervous system. Natural medicine has amazing tools to do just that!

More about the author

Danielle Elliott_4
Danielle Elliott
– Tummy Rescue

Danielle has been working with patients for over 15 years and now gets to focus on patients who have digestive complaints in her clinic Tummy Rescue. After her husband was diagnosed with his second digestive autoimmune condition 10 years ago, she dived into the world of Gut Health and her true passion developed. Since then Danielle has self published her book "Gluten Free and Happy", which helps people with Coeliac Disease and Non-Coeliac Gluten Sensitivity navigate every aspect of this complicated world and to learn to protect their health but also live without fear.

In 2015 Danielle discovered the world of SIBO, thanks to Dr.Nirala Jacobi and she knew that was where she had to focus to help those IBS patients who didn't respond. Since then she has concentrated her study and clinical focus on all things SIBO related, including completing many SIBO courses like the SIBO Mastery Program, Jason Hawlerak's Microbiome Restoration & Functional Nutritional Lab Digestive Intensive. She now also works alongside Dr. Nirala Jacobi and her team at the Biome Clinic, consulting with patients world-wide.

Danielle, loves educating the general public through her IG & FB pages & by being a guest on podcasts for BioPractica. She also regularly writes for Bio-Practica and Brauer Professional, to educate practitioners on the use of their ranges.