Each of us has seen how it works many times. All it takes is tension or fear and we feel a pressure in our stomach or have abdominal pain, diarrhea or constipation. This is because our enteric nervous system receives information about stress or disturbance from the central nervous system via the autonomic nervous system. These limbs are not only connected to the brain, but also have their own nerve networks. That’s why, when we meet someone new or have to make a difficult decision, we say that we “feel it in our stomach.” This metaphor suggests that our digestive system is more than just processing food.
Take care of the microbiome
As our “visceral brain” thinks for us, this process can be two-way. By taking care of our digestive health, we can influence our health and reactions to stress and emotions. For example, people with disorders such as depression, anxiety, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are more likely to have gastrointestinal disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Importantly, the enteric nervous system produces about 95 percent of serotonin and 50 percent. Dopamine is secreted in our bodies.
Our health and emotional balance are also affected by the bacteria in the gut, which, as scientists recently discovered, have symbiotic relationships with our bodies and influence the perception of anxiety, cognition, mood, pain, immunity, and the production of neurotransmitters, especially serotonin. The largest amount of microorganisms is found in the large intestine. It’s up to a trillion cells in one gram of food content!
It is estimated that the number of microorganisms in the entire gastrointestinal tract is 10 times more than the cells in the human body. Therefore, the functions of the microbiome (that is, all microorganisms that live in a particular environment, for example in the intestine) can be compared with a type of bioreactor that produces infinite amounts of various biologically active substances during the fermentation process. The amount and nature of these substances largely depend on our diet. It is also known that qualitative and quantitative disturbances of the microbiome, called intestinal dysbiosis, can contribute to the emergence of many urban diseases, such as obesity, diabetes, allergies, autism or Alzheimer’s disease.
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