Sometimes we get a sensation that something just isn’t quite right – a gut feeling. This deep intuitive sense operates independently of our thinking brains, yet they both impart a sense of ‘knowing’.
Since we are featuring a tea with a focus on digestion and intestinal wellbeing this week, it is the perfect time to think about gut health.
When we are developing and growing in our foetal states, our gut and brain are formed from the same tissue, with one section becoming the central nervous system, and the other becoming the enteric nervous system, and both connected by the vagus nerve (beginning in the brain stem and ending in the abdomen)…there really is a connection between our gut and our brain – the gut ‘feeling’ is quite real!
We know that gut health largely determines our general wellbeing, and that most health practitioners first take steps to ensure optimal intestinal health when treating a patient, regardless of the illness. When you consider that our gut and brain can influence each other, perhaps it is even more crucial that we make good gut health a top priority. Over half of all children with autism, for example, have issues with food allergies, gastrointestinal disorders, or digestion and nutrient absorption problems – if we look at other common troubles such as asthma, eczema, and developmental disorders we see a definite link between gut health and brain health.
So, how can we re-establish a clear connection between our brain and gut? Establishing a healthy population of beneficial gut bacteria is a wonderful place to start, since an imbalance can cause deficiencies by impairing digestion and absorption of vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, and amino acids – impacting on brain development, immunity, and physical progress. In addition to this, inadequate numbers of ‘good’ gut bacteria also leads to an overgrowth of pathogenic organisms (bacteria, fungus, yeast and viruses) which increases the toxic burden on the system.
Taking a multivitamin, or simply changing your diet is not likely to be enough. If the gut is compromised, then the nutrients won’t be absorbed anyway. Establishing an adequate population of beneficial bacteria through probiotic supplementation and fermented foods is the best way to both heal the gut and essentially sharpen both our minds and our gut instincts.