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Did you know we have the same amount of nerves in our gut as there are in a cat’s head?
I think that’s pretty surprising.
These neurons line our digestive system and send message back to the brain via the vagus nerves.
These messages from our digestive system are often closely linked to how we feel emotionally.

Gut-Brain language

The way we talk about our digestion and gut has become part of our language.
For example:
  • Feeling “butterflies in the stomach”, is your stomach talking to your brain through these neurons
  • Being ‘gutted’
  • Gut instinct or gut feeling

The brain-gut superhighway

  • Mood disorders affect more than half of all patients with irritable bowel syndrome

Stress and gut health

If we’re feeling under attack (this may be real or perceived), our body focusses energy on resources that are needed for fight or flight.

This means that our

  • digestion slows down,
  • digestive juices (e.g. stomach acid and digestive enzymes) are reduced
  • blood gets diverted from our gut to our muscles.

 

This physiological change is supposed to be a short term fix for the body to escape danger. It doesn’t matter if we get a bit of indigestion, or a bit bloated, if we’ve saved ourselves from a tiger attack.

But when we’re under long term chronic stress your digestion doesn’t get the chance to right itself again, and you may be left with bloating, excess gas and irregular bowel movements.

 

Do gut microbes affect how we feel stress?

Reseach on mice has shown that mice with no colonisation of microbes are more affected by stress than mice with normal bacteria in their gut.

The study showed that when mice had no gut bacteria, they experienced higher levels of stress hormones in threat situations.

So maybe the bacteria in our gut can affect how much stress we feel. 

 

It’s a two way relationship between our brain and mind.  

 

The immune, hormonal and nervous systems act as translators between the lining of the gut, the microbiota and the brain. Our lifestyle, including the way we eat, relax, move and our emotions, all has a direct impact on our gut microbiome.
 

Hi I'm Anna Mapson, registered Nutritionist (mBANT, CNHC). I help people with IBS, SIBO, reflux and other gut health issues.

I can help you to:

  • understand your digestion better, so you recognise your triggers
  • eat a well balanced diet, with tasty meals that are simple to prepare
  • develop healthy, sustainable habits for life

“Anna is amazing! I feel totally transformed"

Find more about 1:1 IBS nutrition consultations