How to Restore Your Gut-Brain Communication
ByKatarina Meister, ND •October 10, 2023
The Gut-Brain Axis is a biochemical and physical superhighway of communication between your gut and your brain via the vagus nerve. Not only can the brain communicate with your gut, but your gut can also communicate with your brain! The balance of these two channels of communication affects your gut’s motility, the level of inflammation in your gut, the secretion of digestive juices, and the absorption of nutrients.
What can also impact this channel of communication are the bugs living in your gut. The quality of your gut microbiota, food composition, and inflammation in your gut is transmitted. If there are “bad” bugs hanging around in excess in your gut, aka dysbiosis, this can alter your mental state, mood, cognition, motility, and inflammatory levels. Put simply… when your gut is happy so are you!
Here are a few tips on how to restore Gut-Brain connection:
Eat more “good mood food.”
Foods that help support the brain include:
- Healthy fats rich in omega-3 fatty acids: walnuts, wild-caught salmon, hemp seeds, avocado
- Fermented & probiotic-rich foods: yogurt, kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut, tempeh, and kombucha are rich in lactobacilli.
- Foods high in polyphenols can help promote the growth of beneficial gut bacteria: olive oil, nuts, seeds, and berries.
Bring spark back to your food with new ingredients.
Try to add bitters, sours, and spices to reawaken your senses. The pure SIGHT of a colorful salad or the scent and sizzle of the skillet should EXCITE the brain and turn on the digestive tract. This is why often the salad is served before the main course- to help awaken the secretion of stomach acid and prepare the body for the main course.
To optimally support digestion, eat in a relaxing atmosphere and chew foods thoroughly until liquid. Stress can dim the digestive process and create dulled digestive function due to the fight or flight response. Take in the flavors of the food and chew thoroughly with every bite. This will help to normalize digestive motility and bring you into the present moment.
Retrain your nervous system.
When your fight or flight system is activated this can trigger the speeding up or slowing down of the GI tract. It can also make your digestive system sensitive to bloating and other pain signals as well as change the level of inflammation and microbes living in your gut. Part of healing this communication signal is balancing the nervous system that is constantly connected to this fight or flight signal. We can train our nervous system towards rest and digest or our parasympathetic nervous system through mindfulness practices such as journaling, yoga, breath work, meditation, and therapy.
Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health practitioners with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health program.