EVER EXPERIENCE SOME OF THESE?
- Feeling down for no reason?
- Feeling overwhelmed & little or no idea on how to manage?
- Have you lost your enthusiasm for your favorite activities?
- Have you lost some enjoyment in a friendships or relationships?
- Restless mind? (The hamsters are hopping from wheel to wheel)
- Feeling guilty about everyday decisions?
- Brain farts? (It may be humorous but it IS a serious issue)
- How about anger? Do you find yourself angry or aggressive when under stress?
It’s no secret that the key to good health is in your gut (your colon). Many sources researched indicate 80% of your immune system is in the gut. The gut is a key player in influencing brain function too. Confused? This is the miracle of the human body and its self-regulating, self-healing potential, we just need to begin operating and feeding the control center responsibly.
The integrity of the colon wall influences the ability to ward off infections and serious diseases, AND also contributes to healthy brain function by influencing the production of brain chemicals called neurotransmitters.
Fiery Guts… Feisty Brain! Inflammation in the gut can lead to brain inflammation. Many people seem to be complaining of weight gain, hormone issues, depression, sleep issues ….. on closer inspection they seem to have intestinal integrity issues – Poor absorption, sluggish peristalsis, leaky gut, bacterial infection etc. Supporting gut health will help regulate neurotransmitter production and release. Neurotransmitters are chemicals released between neurons (brain cells) to activate them and create excitatory and inhibitory responses. These responses influence the nervous system function. Remember, this is the most important system in your body that controls everything!
Acetylcholine (Ach) is a neurotransmitter necessary for healthy memory, creativity, recognition and your opinion about yourself. If you skip meals or you are hypoglycemic/insulin resistant then you have lower levels of glucose in the brain decreasing your ability to make Ach. A diet rich in choline is recommended. This means healthy fats and animal products such as meats and eggs. Protein sources high in Amino Acids, can also fall into the plant based groups… and more accessible for those who tend to follow Fat-free and vegetarian diets without it negatively impacting the levels of this valuable neurotransmitter. Long term risks of low Ach: chronic memory lapses, dementia, Alzheimer’s.
LACK OF ENTHUSIASM, SADNESS, AND FEELING OVERWHELMED:
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is produced inside the central nervous system (brain) and outside the central nervous system (periphery). Within the brain, its production is associated with anger, mood, sleep, body temperature, vomiting, and appetite. Hypoglycemia, habitual meal skippers and insulin resistance impairs the delivery of glucose to the brain in order to make sufficient serotonin to regulate these functions. Balancing blood sugar is the first step in supporting serotonin synthesis. Hence the focus on regular healthy eating habits.
DIGESTIVE ISSUES AND PAIN:
Peripheral serotonin is produced mostly in the gastrointestinal tract and does not influence brain function since it cannot cross into the brain. Eating sufficient amounts of proper proteins and having the healthy acidic environment (body pH levels tending more too alkaline) to ensure synthesis of acids and reduction of inflammation.
THE GUT – THYROID CONNECTION:
The performance of the thyroid depends significantly on a healthy gut, particularly the balance of healthy gut flora. The majority of your immune system is in your gut (at least 60%), so poor digestive health is a trigger for autoimmune disorders, such as Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. If the body is not eliminating toxins, wastes and unneeded hormones effectively, the system is backed up (constipation) and estrogen starts accumulating. This is one cause of estrogen dominance in both men and women. The accumulation of estrogen will slow down thyroid function.
THE BRAIN – THYROID CONNECTION:
Been experiencing brain fog and forgetfulness? As a result of this and perhaps other findings, were you diagnosed with low thyroid function? There’s a reason for this, and it is because the brain is saturated with thyroid hormone receptors. The brain also secretes a hormone (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone or TSH) to tell the thyroid to make thyroid hormones. Often people are prescribed thyroid medications based solely on a TSH lab reading or an incomplete lab profile.
It’s important also to evaluate brain function, or neurotransmitters. Serotonin and dopamine are neurotransmitters that impact thyroid health. When the lifestyle reflects a poor diet, unstable blood sugar control, adrenal stress and gut compromise (infections, leaky gut), this leads to poor brain health (brain inflammation and degeneration) and a deficiency of neurotransmitters, resulting in symptoms such as depression and poor memory. So, supplementing with nutrients and making better food and lifestyle choices will boost healthy brain activity (neurotransmitters) and help to improve thyroid health. Likewise, supporting thyroid health improves brain function. It goes both ways!
THE BOTTOM LINE – Your diet and lifestyle dictate healthy gut and brain function.
Your ability to adapt to the stressors in your life, to go with the flow when needed, to practice a regular routine to unwind, check out, time out and decompress from the impact of the hectic world in which we live will dramatically help regulate your brain activity to allow for restful and restorative sleep. Often we just want the supplements and a diet handed to us – thinking this is the complete package to resolving our issues. So we pop the supplements and shift towards the healthier diet but they are not working on the mind-body aspect of care.
Rolling out of bed and onto your keyboard with a mug of coffee is not a healthy practice. Taking a time out by unplugging (yes, that means shutting down the cell phone) for just a few minutes to meditate, be in nature, think of nothing is SO rejuvenating and makes a dramatic difference in cortisol regulation, sleep hygiene, mood, decision making, everything! Additional supplementation to assist these functions may be necessary and must be carefully recommended especially if you are taking medications. Never underestimate the power of exercise and its positive effect on the brain.