Food for thought. Literally.
The enteric nervous system (ENS) is a network of neurons lining our guts. It is so extensive some scientists have dubbed it our second brain. There are reportedly 100 million neurons housed in our guts, which is more than the spinal cord but less than the brain. The ENS can function autonomously without any input from the brain to control the movement and absorption of food throughout the intestines. No other organ can do this. If automatically digesting food seems like an unimpressive feat to you, please read on because it turns out that what’s happening in your gut directly influences what’s happening in your brain.
Belgian researchers have found that specific components of food have a direct effect on nuerohormones in the gut that signal the brain. The ENS sends signals to the brain that directly influence feelings of sadness or stress, memory, learning and decision making. The ENS itself manufactures 30 nuerotransmitters, including serotonin, best known for its impact on various mood disorders like anxiety and depression.
Brain scans taken before and after the ingestion of a probiotic (healthy bacteria) for 3 weeks show a change in brain function in those participants who took the probiotic compared to those who received the placebo. Some people speculate that the changes in the American diet have altered the composition of the gut flora in ways that leave us more susceptible to both mental and physical aliments such as depression, anxiety, diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome and immune disorders. In fact, these conditions have increased drastically with the increased consumption of highly processed foods which are lacking in the types of bacteria our bodies and our brains rely on.
What you choose to eat or ingest in any way impacts more than just your weight. We suggest you use both your brains and choose wisely.