Do You Know About the Brain-Gut Axis?

Posted July 2021
Lentil Burgers with Corn Thins slices

Having a healthy gut is important for many reasons and one is that it directly influences the health and function of your brain. You have around 10 trillion microbes living in your gut which send signals out into your body influencing its function, this includes your brain.

Microbes can use vagus nerve  which is a direct link of communication from your gut to your brain. Microbes may also send signals indirectly through the use the enteric nervous system with is a division off the main central nervous system to then send signals onto the vagus nervous system.

How your gut microbes influence nerve signals is through by producing neuro modulators like GABA which is a neurotransmitter which promotes calm feelings and reduce stress. These influence the signals or messages sent out by other nerve cells in your body and include through to your brain.

Research has shown that your gut microbes influence the development of certain parts of your brain to function like your hypothalamus and cerebral cortex.  The ability of the composition of your gut microbiome may also determine your risk of developing Autism Spectrum Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), or Parkinson’s disease.

In addition to this 90% of the hormone called serotonin is produced in your gut. This ‘feel good hormone’ influences your mood and mental health. Your gut also produces around 50% of the dopamine in your body which influences your brains ability to make decisions and control your thoughts. If your gut is not made up of healthy microbes these can influence the type and amounts of different hormones present in your body. Consequently, influencing your mental health and brain function.

The gut microbiome of a mother influences the brain development of her child. This starts at the earliest parts of life when the signals which are sent out by the microbes in your mothers’ gut can cross the placenta and influence the child’s brain development. Research suggests that these messages sent from the mother’s gut may directly influence every aspect of a foetus’s development.

Including a variety of plant-based foods in your day like whole grains , or whole grain containing foods like includes Corn Thins slices, nuts, seeds, legumes, fruit and vegetables is an important way to keep your gut healthy and your gut microbiome fed with a type of fibre called prebiotics.

Take home message: The power of your gut to influence your brain is amazing. Be mindful of your lifestyle choices and assess if these choices are promoting or inhibiting your best gut microbiome.

Ashleigh Felth…
Accredited Practising Dietitian
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    • Ashleigh Felth…