Had a gut full?
Until relatively recently it was thought that the road between the gut and the brain was a one-way street i.e. brain to gut.
What is now becoming clear is that it’s actually a main highway. In fact, while we all tend to think of the brain as being boss, scientists are discovering that the gut sends far more information to the brain (via the vagus nerve) than the brain sends to the gut.
So the phrase gut instinct takes on a whole new significance.
The bacteria in your gut out number the cells in your body by ten to one and far, from being passive, these little rascals will have their say in your physical and mental health whether you like it or not. So it pays to look after them.
Here’s what Dr. Kirsten Tillisch from UCLA who’s been studying the subject has to say:
"Researchers have known that the brain sends signals to your gut, which is why stress and other emotions can contribute to gastrointestinal symptoms. [But now] we are hearing from patients that they never felt depressed or anxious until they started experiencing problems with their gut."
To put this in real terms: You’ve probably experienced the feeling of being sick with nerves (most of us have at one time or another). That’s the brain controlling the gut. But we now know that conditions like anxiety and depression can and do emanate from the gut and manifest in the brain. That’s the gut controlling the brain.
Here’s another one for you: We all know that neurotransmitters like serotonin control mood and that they are part of our brain chemistry. What we didn’t know is that there is a greater concentration of serotonin in the gut than there is in the brain. That’s what they call a ‘game changer’.
A rain forest worth of books and papers are being written on the subject as we speak but suffice to say that gut health is likely to be a very hot topic indeed in the coming years and it would pay health professionals - which we consider PTs to be - to stay abreast of developments.
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