Interesting article I came across about the connection with the gut and stomach. Worth a read I think.. I learnt quite a bit about the connection again. A good reminder of the real basics and that the gut has a lot more influence over the mind/brain/emotions than we think!

In the lowest, most primitive part of our brains, a neural network called the basal ganglia is constantly evaluating the outcomes of our every behavior, extracting decision rules: When I said that, it worked out well. When I did this, bad things happened. And so on, like a tireless experimental scientist tasked with guiding us wisely through our lives. The basal ganglia store our accumulated life wisdom. But when we are faced with a decision, it is our verbal cortex that delivers our thoughts about it, often drowning out the wisdom accumulated inside the basal ganglia’s storehouse. (Goleman, 2011)

The most interesting part: The basal ganglia area is so primitive it has noconnection to the verbal cortex so it can’t share its knowledge in words – but its connections to the gut are plentiful. The basal ganglia area tells us what is right or wrong for us as a gut feeling. So trust your gut, your felt sense, your intuition – not what comes to you in words from your brain! (Goleman, 2011)

Nearly every brain-regulating chemical found in our skull brains has also been found in our gut brains. This includes major neurotransmitters (serotonin, dopamine, glutamate, norepinephrine and nitric oxide), brain proteins called neuropeptides, major immune system cells, a class of the body’s natural opiates (enkephalins), and even benzodiazepines (the family of psychoactive chemicals found in drugs such as Valium and Xanax). (Gershon, 1998)

The gut has opiate receptors much like the brain. Drugs like morphine and heroin attach to opiate receptors in the brain and also in the gut, causing constipation. Both brains can be addicted to opiates. (Loes, 2003)

Our emotions are greatly influenced by chemicals and nerves inside the gut. Most of us know Prozac as a best selling anti-depressant pharmaceutical. In 1971, when Eli Lilly was developing the drug, they expected it would become a treatment for high blood pressure or obesity. Prozac (fluoxetine hydrochloride) works by increasing brain levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that produces feelings of well-being. Serotonin also affects sleep, appetite and aggression (Bellis, 2013)

90 percent of the body’s serotonin is located in the gut, where it regulates intestinal movements. Only 10 percent is synthesized in the central nervous system, where it serves many functions – including mood regulation, appetite, sleep, and the cognitive functions of memory and learning.  (Berger, Gray & Roth, 2009)  (King, 1996-2013)

People with bowel problems also tend to have disturbances in their REM (dream cycle) sleep causing fatigue in the morning even after what felt like a sound sleep. (Alternative Medicine Angel, 2013)

Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease patients often report being constipated. We think of these diseases as central nervous system problems yet our guts also play an important role. (Alternative Medicine Angel, 2013)

A genetically engineered (GE) food is a plant or meat product that has had its DNA artificially altered in a laboratory with genes from other plants, animals, viruses or bacteria in order to produce foreign compounds in that food.  An example is sweet corn that has been engineered to produce a pesticide (Bt toxin) in its own tissue and be herbicide resistant (to Monsanto’s weed killer, Roundup). Genetically Modified (GMO) corn is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as an insecticide but is sold in the US unlabeled. If you eat products containing high fructose corn syrup and many other corn-containing substances, you are consuming this pesticide. There have been no long term studies to determine the safety of GE and GMO foods. Many countries, containing over 40 percent of the world’s population, already label GE & GMO foods, nevertheless, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not. Even China labels GE foods as do all the European Union countries. (Label, 2013)

Since we now know that broad spectrum antibiotics kill the beneficial bacteria in our guts along with the infection-causing ones, here’s an alarming piece of information: Children in the US and other developed countries have received 10-20 courses of antibiotics by the age of 18. (Blaser, 2011)

The existence of the enteric nervous system was first detected by a scientist named Auerbach, working in Germany with a primitive optical microscope in the mid 1800’s, while America was embroiled in our Civil War. (Gershon, 1998)

The traditions of Chinese medicine, Ayurvedic medicine and Hatha Yoga  have been aware of this communicating dual-brain system for centuries. The colon cleansing process of Ayurveda and Nauli, a digestive cleaning exercise practiced in classical Hatha Yoga, help cleanse the gut and increase feelings of wellness. In Mayur Asana (Peacock Pose) the body is balanced on the navel. The pressure stimulates the vagus nerve, helping improve the brain-gut connection. (Rajvanshi, 2011)

The belly has been seen as a center of energy and consciousness throughout the world’s healing and mystical traditions. The huge paunches depicted on many of India’s deities indicate that these gods are full of prana (life force or qi). (Alternative Medicine Angel, 2013)

The gentle art of tai chi emphasizes the lower abdomen as a reservoir for energy. It teaches strengthening of the abdominals by learning how to compact prana into the belly.  From the Chinese viewpoint, the belly is considered the dan tian, the body’s energy center. The dan tian is an important focal point for meditation and exercise techniques such as qigong and martial arts – and also in traditional Chinese medicine. (Cohen, 1997)

I’ve noticed as a psychotherapist that people’s voices relax and become lower pitched when they’re speaking their gut truths and get tenser and higher pitched when they’re saying what they think.

Interesting huh? 🙂

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