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How Gut Health Affects Your Brain

Published January 24, 2019 (Revised: June 19, 2019)
<article> <section> <p>More and more, science is showing us that gut health is absolutely crucial if we want to live long, healthy lives. Benefits like increased mood, better mental health, and weight loss are commonly obtained if you have a healthy gut.</p> <p>On the flip side, unhealthy microbiomes in your gut can lead to pain and autoimmune disorders. As you’ll learn soon, the gut is its own functioning entity in our bodies. We must do whatever we can to keep it healthy.</p> <p>In this article, we’ll break down how the gut and brain are related. You’ll learn just how important it is to maintain a healthy crop of bacteria in your digestive system.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>What is a microbiome</header> <p>The term <i>microbiome</i> refers to the microorganisms living inside your gut. The word <i>biome</i> means a “naturally occurring environment.” If it helps, just think about nature, then add ‘micro’ to the front end. That makes it easy to remember that a microbiome is a very small (but living) environment.</p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset=""> <img src="" class="img-fluid" alt="trees-ground-view-0059"> </picture> <p>Believe it or not, our microbiomes are quite diverse. In fact, each person has between 300 to 500 species of bacteria in their digestive system<sup>1</sup>. In total, there are trillions of individual microorganisms in your gut.</p> <p><i>Gut health</i>, then, refers to keeping the microbiome-a tiny, but jam-packed environment-inside your gut healthy.</p> <p>For the most part, the microorganisms in your gut are bacteria. Some of them can make us sick. However, many of the bacteria are essential for the health and overall function of our bodies.</p> <p>A healthy microbiome helps keep our immune system healthy, ward off disease, and fight off depression<sup>1</sup>.</p> <div class="sub-head">Microbiome and Weight Loss</div> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset=""> <img src="" class="img-fluid" alt="measuring-tape-wrapped-around-hand-0063"> </picture> <p>Of the many reasons that it’s crucial to maintain a healthy microbiome in your gut, one is that it might actually keep you from gaining weight.</p> <p>Studies have found that an imbalance of gut microbes can actually lead to weight gain<sup>2</sup>. The solution? <a href="">Probiotics</a>. (Which are <b>FREE plus shipping</b> here at <a href="">Warrior Made</a>.) Studies also found adding probiotics to your diet helps rebalance the microbes and can actually help you lose weight<sup>2</sup>.</p> <p>Understand that in this case, it was about five pounds and that a diet rich in probiotics won’t shed you of excess weight. Still, it points to the fact that a functioning gut may be one of keys to losing weight long-term.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>Gut Health: Why is it Important?</header> <p>As research emerges on the gut, the science is getting conclusive: gut health is not to be ignored. In fact, it might be the key to living a long and healthy life.</p> <p>Studies show that your gut plays a role in immune system function, mood, mental health, autoimmune diseases, problems with your endocrine system, skin health, and even cancer<sup>3</sup>.</p> <p>If that has you paying attention, stay tuned for the five signs of an unhealthy gut <i>and</i> what you can do to fix it, coming later in this article.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>Quick Break (In the Name of Science)</header> <p>Alright folks, we’re about to dive into the second half of this article. We’ve been pretty scientific so far, and we’re going to keep going. In part two, we’ll focus on the connection between the gut and brain. It’s equal parts interesting and informative, and we are excited to share it with you.</p> <p>That said, we’ll keep it light and easy to understand. No white lab coats needed.</p> <p>Even so, here’s your chance to take a quick science break. Stretch, have <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">some water</a>-you know, the usual things healthy people do.</p> <p>Before we get back in, why not pop over to our nutrition page and check out our latest <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">keto-approved recipes</a>? From salads to bagels (yes, bagels) and everything in between, we’ve got you covered.</p> <p>Alright, break over. Let’s go!</p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset=""> <img src="" class="img-fluid" alt="chains-linking-0059"> </picture> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>The Brain and Gut: How They’re Linked</header> <p>There’s a term for the connection between your gut and your brain: it’s called the <i>gut-brain axis</i><sup>3</sup>. In more ways than one, these organs are connected and work together to keep your body healthy and mental function optimum.</p> <p>Without putting on our white scientist coats, here are two ways the gut and brain are connected.</p> <div class="sub-head">Nerves</div> <p>Were you impressed by the number of microorganisms in your gut? Then you might want to sit down for this one.</p> <p>Your brain has approximately one <i>billion million</i> neurons. Your gut, on the other hand, comes in second place with a mere five hundred million<sup>3</sup>.</p> <p>Of the millions of nerves, you only need to remember one: the <i>vagus nerve</i>. This is the main nerve that connects the brain and gut. It’s a vast neural network, but the vagus nerve is responsible for sending signals in both directions<sup>4</sup>.</p> <p>In fact, scientists have linked ailments like Crohn’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) (as well as mental health) to the vagus nerve connection between the two<sup>5</sup>.</p> <div class="sub-head">Gut Microbes</div> <p>The millions of little guys living inside your digestive system produce chemicals that affect brain function<sup>6</sup>.</p> <p>How? For one, those chemicals produced by your gut tell your brain you’re hungry-so, that’s a big deal.</p> <p>Also, your microbes are connected to your immune system. When they are healthy, you are protected from viruses and diseases. When your gut microbes aren’t healthy, this can lead to inflammation and autoimmune disorders<sup>2</sup>.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>Why is the Gut Called Your “Second Brain?</header> <p>Scientists and health experts now refer to the digestive system as our “second brain.” The main reason? Because the gut has its own nervous system: the <i>enteric nervous system</i><sup>7</sup>.</p> <p>The enteric nervous system is comprised of the vast network of microorganisms and neurons that are found in the gut. While it can’t solve riddles like our “first” brain, it can influence our mood, cause stress and anxiety, and make us feel sick to our stomach if something distresses us.</p> <p>Ever felt butterflies in your stomach or had a ‘gut feeling’? Do you get a stomach ache when you get nervous? That’s your enteric nervous system at work, sending signals between the gut and brain.</p> <p>We think of our brain as the only place that can generate feelings. Science is showing us more and more that the gut does a lot more than we thought.</p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset=""> <img src="" class="img-fluid" alt="stressed-out-man-sitting-0059"> </picture> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>Four Signs of an Unhealthy Gut</header> <p>To this point, we’ve covered the bases about gut health. You know how important it is to keep your microbiome healthy, and that the gut functions, in many ways, like a second brain. Now, let’s look at signs and symptoms of an unhealthy gut.</p> <div class="sub-head">1. Weight Gain</div> <p>Imbalanced gut bacteria can prevent your body from absorbing nutrients, regulating blood sugar, and storing fat<sup>2</sup>. When blood sugar gets wacky, our brain sends signals to our body that make it easy for us to overeat and gain body fat.</p> <p>Ever felt like you could lose weight if you didn’t constantly feel hungry or unsatisfied from meals? This could be a sign that your gut isn’t healthy.</p> <div class="sub-head">2. Upset Stomach</div> <p>If the gut is your second brain, it’s most common signal is to tell you something’s wrong via stomach pain. Whether you’re experiencing cramps, bloating, diarrhea, or heartburn, this might be a sign that your gut is not healthy.</p> <div class="sub-head">3. Poor Sleep</div> <p>Sleep is supposed to be the time your body restores itself, and if your gut microbiome is off, that will be very difficult to do.</p> <p><i>Serotonin</i>, the hormone that makes us feel happy, plays a large role in helping us sleep. Impaired gut function can mess with our serotonin levels, causing us to feel fatigued or making a good night sleep difficult to come by.</p> <div class="sub-head">4. Skin Problems</div> <p>The largest organ in your body, believe it or not, is your skin. And if your second brain isn’t working properly, your skin might tell you. Eczema and other skin irritants are possible if your gut is inflamed.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>Keeping a Healthy Gut: Four Keys</header> <p>Now, let’s take a look at a few keys to ensuring optimal gut health.</p> <div class="sub-head">1. Stop Stressing</div> <p>That microbiome of yours isn’t looking for signs that you’re distressed, but if they come, your gut function is affected. Chronic stress, meaning stress that affects you on a regular basis (from work, family, etc.) can cause serious gut health issues, among other things.</p> <p>Self-care, decreasing caffeine intake, and <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">exercise</a> can help decrease your stress levels.</p> <div class="sub-head">2. Chew Your Food</div> <p>Properly chewed food is easier on your digestive system. It’s less stressful and much easier for your gut to absorb essential nutrients.</p> <p>There’s a lot of “interesting” recommendations out there about how many chews are needed before swallowing your food: some “experts” say chew forty-one times, some say chewed food should be the consistency of oatmeal before you swallow.</p> <p>Here’s what we’ll say: take your time chewing your food and enjoy your meals. Food is supposed to taste good and be a positive experience and slowing down to enjoy it can help that happen.</p> <div class="sub-head">3. Take Probiotics</div> <p>A diet rich in prebiotics and probiotics help promote the growth of healthy bacteria in your gut. You should be regularly consuming probiotics in your diet, whether as a supplement or during meals.</p> <p>Foods like yogurt, kimchi, and sauerkraut are all packed with probiotics. Warrior Made also makes a fantastic probiotic supplement.</p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset=""> <img src="" class="img-fluid" alt="keto-meal-salad-with-egg-0059"> </picture> <div class="sub-head">4. Change Your Diet</div> </p>Less sugary and inflammatory foods will help improve gut function. Veggies and lean meats will also improve your gut’s microbiome.</p> <p>Fortunately, there’s probably no better diet out there that’s low on sugar and <a href="" rel="noreferrer">inflammatory foods</a> than the <a href="" rel="noreferrer">ketogenic diet</a>.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>Wrapping Up</header> <p>Gut health is an absolute essential part of human health and functioning. Scientists are calling it the second brain for a reason: after all, it can signal to us when we’re not treating it well.</p> <p>You’d do well to prioritize your gut’s microbiome by eating anti-inflammatory foods, taking good bacteria-enhancing <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">probiotics</a>, stressing less, and exercising more. The side effects and symptoms of an unhealthy gut aren’t something you want to deal with. And with a <i><b>free</b></i> plus shipping offer from <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">Warrior Made</a>, you can try them out for yourself, and see how they effect your gut health. </p> <p>We covered a lot in this piece. If you made it to the end of this article, it’s clear that you care about your health. Here’s our chance to give you kudos and to suggest that you consider the next step: joining our community. We’re helping people of all ages and backgrounds lose weight, get healthy, and <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">transform their bodies</a>.</p> <div class="sub-head">Resources</div> <ol> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">What’s an Unhealthy Gut?</a> </li> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">Gut microbiota, obesity and diabetes</a> </li> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">The Gut-Brain Connection</a> </li> <li><a target="_blank" href="">Vagus Nerve</a> </li> <li><a target="_blank" href="">Relationship between vagal tone</a> </li> <li><a target="_blank" href="">Minireview: Gut Microbiota</a> </li> <li><a target="_blank" href="">Anatomy and physiology of the enteric nervous system</a></li> </ol> </section> </article>

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