Addressing Gut-Brain issues With Functional Medicine

The Gut-Brain Connection

The gut-brain connection is a communication system or “axis” where your gut and brain are physically and chemically connected. This axis is a complex system that involves neurotransmitters, your nervous system, your digestive system, and even good gut flora to carry out daily health functions that have an impact on both physical and mental health.

Brain + Gut Health = Mood

Have you ever had an emotionally-charged experience that makes your stomach do “flips”, get the “butterflies” or “wrenches your gut”? If so, you have already felt the impact of the gut-brain connection at work. While these expressions have been around longer than our knowledge of the gut-brain axis, it’s clear that brain health and gut health are intricately linked!

While we may not have always know about the gut-brain axis, it’s been well established that the brain influences the stomach and intestines. In fact, just the thought of food will cause the salivary glands and stomach juices to jump into action. We also experience the effects of this connection if something emotionally charged is happening such as high levels of stress or fear.

We can also see this at work from the direction of the gut to brain. If your stomach or intestinal health is off, your mood and stress levels are impacted. While this is commonly accepted science, the gut-brain connection goes far deeper than that – even to the microscopic level of neurons and microbes.

The Microbiome and Brain Health

Advances in medical research have taught us how our brains work in tandem with our gut, not only on a mechanical/neural level, but also on a microbial level with the microbiome.  The gut microbiome is a collection of billions of different bacteria (also called “flora”) and is very sensitive to the impact of diet, stress, toxins, and other factors.  While there are microbiomes in multiple body systems, one of the most critical for healthy brain health is the microbiome located in the intestines and colon.  Having a healthy balance of the right gut flora is critical for healthy gut and brain function.

Scientists have discovered that more than 1,000 species of bacteria can live there. They affect everything from your metabolism, food cravings, and how well you process calories, to your immune system, hormone balance, and even how well your brain functions.

The gut flora have a direct impact on brain health in a multitude of ways. They help to move harmful brain toxins out of the body, lower inflammation, produce key nutrients such as B vitamins along with important mood-boosting neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, and play a role in thyroid hormone production. Yet when these helpful colonies of gut flora are damaged and the tissues in your gut lining become compromised, it can wreak havoc not only with your digestion, but also with your brain.

Conditions like “Leaky Gut” (also called increased intestinal permeability) can compromise the brain’s blood barrier since the integrity of the gut and brain barriers are linked. An inflamed gut also means an inflamed brain, which can translate to symptoms such as mood disorders, anxiety, fatigue, brain fog, and sleep problems.

While emotional trauma and stress must be addressed, gut health is also a priority when trying to restore mood and optimize mental health. There is no question that gut dysbiosis or gut issues can impact mental health and brain function. At the Mood Restoration Institute, we take a more comprehensive approach to your mental health by addressing gut imbalances along with several other lifestyle factors that impact your mental health and well-being.

Take The First Step On Your

Journey With Me

Perhaps you have questions you’d like to ask before you make a decision to become a patient. Our patient coordinator is standing by, happy to answer any questions you have to determine if Mood Restoration Institute is right for you.

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