Three “brains” instead of one? Part 1: The Gut Brain

Do you know that our functioning is regulated by three centres – the guts, the heart, and the brain?

Yes, there is evidence that the guts share many features with the brain and the heart.

Example: Serotonin – a neurotransmitter playing a big part in the mood regulation –  is primarily found in the gastrointestinal tract (90% of serotonin is found there, with the remainder located in the central nervous system). Serotonin function include regulation of mood , appetite, and sleep. Serotonin also has some cognitive functions, including memory and learning. There are some studies on guts bacterial flora which suggest that the type of bacteria we have in our guts significantly influence our emotions and thinking.

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Another exciting news from the scientific field: in small studies (conducted in 2013 and 2014), researchers from Arizona State University found evidence that gut bacteria may differ between children with and without autism. These differences show how specific gut microbes affect gut-to-brain communication and/or alter brain function.

Isn’t it enough to give much more respect to our guts?

It looks like the initial (unconscious) response to important information from our surroundings – a sixth sense – comes from our guts and is directed to our brain to be processed further. Wow, that would explain the folk wisdom saying the guts telling the hidden (unconsciously sensed by guts) truth.

Looking back at origins of our nervous system and the brain – the guts consist the primary nervous system, emerging in the first vertebrates over 500 million years ago and becoming more complex as vertebrates evolved – possibly even giving rise to the brain itself.

To give some justice to the brain – off course, brain affects guts functioning in a large amount; our mental state impact our gastrointestinal tract in many ways. Still, today we know much more about how the brain impacts the guts, than how the guts impact the brain.

In ancients traditions, generally speaking – brain (mind) was considered more as a servant than a ruler; today we live in a “cognitive culture”, where brain seems to be the master, a dictator perhaps.

In the next post – heart as a strong sensor, our second brain.

Hania Gorski

 



Categories: body-spirit-mind, brain-gut connection, health, stress

Tags: , , , , ,

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