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June 26th, 2017

Learn what to feed your “second brain” and why it matters

When you were first conceived, your brain and your gut were the same embryonic tissue. By the time you were born, one part of this tissue had evolved into the central nervous system, while the other had become the enteric nervous system. These two nervous systems can and do function independently of one another, but they also communicate with one another via the vagus nerve.

The enteric nervous system, or the “second brain” found in your gut, controls digestion without any input from the brain in your head. This second brain contains 100 million neurons and uses and/or manufactures more than 30 neurotransmitters, including the mood-enhancer serotonin. Using these neurotransmitters, the gut can send messages to the brain that affect mood, stress, memory, learning, and decision-making.

For example, when you enjoy some comfort food like a bowl of macaroni and cheese, it’s not just the experience of eating a tasty food with positive associations that is so satisfying. Your gut is actually telling your brain to feel happy. Research has proven that, within minutes of being delivered directly to the stomach, the fat content of comfort food causes activation of brain regions known to moderate emotion.

In order to stay healthy and happy, you simply cannot ignore the health of your “second brain.” Here are some tips to help you feed it.

Focus on Stomach-Friendly Foods

The pH of your gut is very important for the health of the “second brain”. Unfortunately, the typical diet full of meat, wheat, sugar, fried foods, coffee, and alcohol can cause the environment to become too acidic. Try to reduce your intake of these foods in favor of alkalizing foods like vegetables, beans, rice, and fish.

Boost Friendly Gut Bacteria

Microbes in the gut have a direct impact on how we feel, thanks to the communication between our two “brains.” Unfortunately, many people have an overabundance of “bad” gut bacteria due to their unhealthy modern diet, the use of antibiotics, and other factors. To correct this, we need to introduce more “good” bacteria into the gut. This can be done in two main ways: with probiotic foods or with a probiotic supplement. Probiotic foods are fermented foods in which “good” bacteria and fungi serve as natural preservatives. Examples include yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, and kefir. Probiotic supplements can provide a higher dose of “good” bacteria than foods alone, and they make it easier to get the 10 billion “good” bacteria that you need on a daily basis in order to improve the balance of bacteria in your gut.

Eat More Prebiotic Foods

Once you have introduced “good” bacteria into your gut, you need to help them thrive in order to enjoy continued benefits. In other words, you need to feed them. Experts suggest about 40 grams of hard to digest carbohydrates, aka prebiotics, per day. Examples include raw oats, unrefined wheat, leeks, garlic, onions, bananas, and asparagus.

Want to Learn More?

If you would like to learn more about using probiotic supplements to improve your gut health—and the myriad health benefits this will provide—please contact us at 800-859-7511 today.

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