Did you know you have a second brain? And that it is located in your stomach? This is what causes you to feel emotions, such as butterflies in your stomach when you're excited or nervous, and a sick feeling in your stomach when you're scared or emotional. This second brain is called the enteric nervous system (ENS). The ENS consists of two thin layers containing more than 100 million nerve cells. These cells line your digestive tract, which runs from your esophagus all the way to your rectum.
The second brain in your stomach, or the ENS, communicates directly with the brain in your head. This is called the brain-gut connection or the connection between the gut and the brain.
What is the connection between the gut and the brain?
The ENS communicates with your brain both physically and chemically. These back and forth connections follow a path called the gut-brain axis. The main connection from your abdomen to your brain is the vagus nerve . This nerve also controls messages sent to the heart, lungs, and other organs. In addition, hormones and other neurotransmitters are chemically sent via the gut-brain axis.
These chemical messages are influenced by your gut's microbiome. This consists of all the fungi, viruses and bacteria that live in your stomach. There are many different types in your belly, some of which can be beneficial or harmful to your health. Others have no influence at all.
The gut-brain axis is not just your brain and the ENS. This pathway also includes your endocrine system, immune system, hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, microbiota and metabolites
The connection between the gut and the brain has been shown to influence your health when it comes to certain diseases or conditions. This applies to both your physical and mental health, since the belly is your second brain.
Gut Microbiota and the Gut-Brain Axis
Over the past 15 years, scientists have realized the important role the gut microbiome plays in your health. The microbiome consists of trillions of microorganisms, both inside and on your body. The gut microbiome helps regulate the function of the gut-brain axis. The microbiome and the brain communicate with each other through the ENS, the vagus nerve, and other pathways.
Experts and researchers are currently studying the gut-brain connection and its effects on certain neurological conditions. Microorganisms in your body help regulate your immune system's response. That is why certain diseases are now being investigated to understand what happens in the abdomen that can cause these conditions, or at least play a role in Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson's or Alzheimer's, among others.
In addition to neurological disorders, gastrointestinal (GI) disorders are also looked more closely at and how they affect the functioning of your brain.
As you get older, the diversity of microbes in your belly decreases. High levels of stress at any time in your life also change the diversity of microbes in your gut.
The impact of gut health
The connection between the gut and the brain causes you to feel things like a fight or flight response and nervousness before you give a presentation. Many people deal with other conditions that affect their physical and intestinal health. For example, if you suffer from anxiety or depression, this can cause intestinal complaints, causing problems in the stomach or intestines. Because of the gut-brain connection, the reverse can also be true – that your gut health impacts your mental and physical health.
Your ENS can influence your emotions. In turn, your emotions can have an effect on certain conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), constipation, bloating, ...
For a long time, doctors thought that anxiety and stress were the cause of these gastrointestinal problems, but now the opposite is believed. Poor gut health can send signals to the central nervous system and affect your mood.
Some people who experience gastrointestinal problems may not have any other physical symptoms. The cause can be a side effect of their mental health, so improving gut health can be difficult as stress and anxiety take a toll both mentally and physically.
The role of Lactobacillus
Spore-shaped bacteria, such as Lactobacillus, play an important role in promoting healthy intestinal flora. These beneficial bacteria can have a positive impact on your intestinal health. They help maintain a balanced microbial community in your gut, which is essential for healthy digestion and a strong immune system.
Lactobacillus produces lactic acid, which increases acidity in the intestines and inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria. In addition, these bacteria can strengthen the intestinal wall and reduce inflammation. By stimulating the growth of beneficial bacteria and inhibiting the growth of harmful bacteria, spore-shaped bacteria such as Lactobacillus can contribute to healthy intestinal flora.
That is why Metis Anti-Stress 03, in addition to soothing ingredients and adaptogens, also contains Lactobacillus subtilis HU 58 and Lactobacillus coagulans.
Pharmacist Dirk Christiaen
Founder of Metis Supplements