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Go with your Guts! Chris James for Honestly Healthy

It’s been a lousy morning. You spilt coffee down your freshly ironed white shirt, were late for work, missed a crucial meeting and now the Big Man has called you in to his office.

At lunchtime you walk straight past the salad section and head for the sandwiches and crisps. You can’t resist the carbs, and in these times of stress you feel helplessly drawn to seek out comfort foods. Sounds familiar? What you probably don’t know, though, is that the real culprit may not be the brain in your head, but your other brain, the brain in your stomach.

“Its aberrations are responsible for a lot of suffering,” says Pasricha. He believes that a better understanding of the second brain could pay huge dividends in our efforts to control all sorts of conditions, from obesity and diabetes to problems normally associated with the brain such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
In the gut there is a well kept secret; there are millions of nerve cells, almost as many as in the brain. It has been known for a long time that the enteric nervous system (ENS) controls digestion. It has recently been discovered that it also plays an important role in our physical and mental well-being. The ENS can work both independently of, and in conjunction with, the brain in your head, although you are not conscious of your gut ‘thinking.’

Amazingly, if the main connection with the brain, the vagus nerve is severed with the ENS, the gut remains capable of performing digestion without the brain…! What’s more the ENS influences the brain more so than the other way around – about 90 per cent of the signals passing along the vagus nerve come not from brain, but from the GUT.

This has extraordinary implications; human beings have an innate ability to process information about what’s going on around them, and put a response into action separate from the brain and central nervous system.

Butterflies?

Have you ever felt “butterflies” in your tummy? Underlying this sensation is an often-overlooked network of neurons lining our guts that is so extensive some scientists have nicknamed it our “second brain”.

You needn’t be a gastroenterologist to be aware of the more subtle feelings in your stomach that accompany emotions such as excitement, fear and stress. The second brain consists of sheaths of neurons embedded in the walls of the long tube of our gut, or alimentary canal, which measures about nine meters end to end from the oesophagus to the anus. The second brain contains some 100 million neurons, more than in either the spinal cord or the peripheral nervous system.  It is this multitude of neurons in the enteric nervous system enables us to “feel” the inner world of our gut.

Health and Disease

For hundreds of years, people have believed that the gut interacts with the brain to influence health and disease.  The brain can also interact and affect the gut.  Depression treatments that target the mind can unintentionally impact the gut, and medics intending to cause chemical changes in the mind often provoke GI issues as a side effect, such as Irritable bowel syndrome.  U.C.L.A.’s Mayer work with the gut’s nervous system has led him to think that in coming years psychiatry will need to expand to treat the second brain in addition to the one on top of the shoulders.

Why looking after your Guts is important

  • At least 70 % of our immune system resides in the gut.  Here the immune system expels and kills foreign invaders. Cutting-edge research is currently investigating how the second brain mediates the body’s immune response.
  • 95 % of the body’s serotonin is found in the bowels. Serotonin  is responsible for the feeling of happiness and well-being.  The popular theory is that it gets made in the brain, because it determines our moods and emotions. Not surprisingly, most of the total amount of serotonin in our bodies is manufactured by the nerve cells of our gut.
  • Serotonin prevents depression, regulates sleep, appetite and body temperature. But its influence stretches far beyond that. Serotonin is also involved in repairing damaged cells in the liver and lungs, and for normal development of the heart.
  • Neurons in the gut are thought to generate as much dopamine as those in the head.  In the brain, dopamine is a signalling molecule associated with pleasure and the reward system. It acts as a signalling molecule in the gut too, transmitting messages between neurons that coordinate the contraction of muscles in the colon.

If nothing else, the discovery that problems with the Gut and the ENS are implicated in all sorts of conditions means the second brain deserves a lot more recognition than it has had in the past, it does much more than merely handle inflict the occasional nervous pang! The fact is that the little brain in our innards, partly determines our mental state and plays key roles in certain diseases throughout the body.

See here for some delicious, alkaline and gut boosting recipes:

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References:

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/gut-second-brain/

American Journal of Physiology – Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology, vol 283, p G1217

The British Journal of Psychiatry, vol 189, p 282

“Its aberrations are responsible for a lot of suffering,” says Pasricha. He believes that a better understanding of the second brain could pay huge dividends in our efforts to control all sorts of conditions, from obesity and diabetes to problems normally associated with the brain such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

http://www.ted.com/talks/heribert_watzke_the_brain_in_your_gut?language=en

Down the road, the blossoming field of neurogastroenterology will likely offer some new insight into the workings of the second brain—and its impact on the body and mind.

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Chris James background is in teaching Yoga and Meditation. He still teaches privately to high end clients, and delivers workshops and masterclasses internationally. The Clean Break branded retreats that he runs across the world are well known and exclusive.
Chris have an unrelenting passion for cooking and good nutrition, while his focus is on good gut and digestive health as key to maintaining optimum vitality and longevity: “You are not so much what you eat. You are what you can absorb and assimilate!”
Chris writes a regular column in the Yoga Magazine, and contributes regularly to the health pages of the national press.

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http://www.chrisjamesyoga.com/our_training.htm

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Go with your Guts! Chris James for Honestly Healthy

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