Awakening the Mind in the Gut: Gut Reactions
Siobhain O’ Mahony PhD
Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre
The second brain: the gut has a mind of its own Two brains???
Development of the two brains Bi-directional communication between the 1° brain and the gut
How the 2 brains interact
Mind, body and SOUL? Psychonutrition???
Can foods alter you frame of mind? Stress Disorders of the gut
What can go wrong!
The second brain
The gut has a mind of its own – literally. It has its own well-developed nervous system that acts independently of almost everything except your unconscious brain. The Enteric Nervous System contains neurons and neurotransmitters just like those found in your skull. Over half of the nerve cells in your body are located in the gut. Your “gut brain” is also able to learn, remember, and produce emotionbased feelings. The expression “gut-level feeling” isn’t just a “saying.” We really do have feelings in our gut.
During early fetal development both your gut and your primary brain started to develop from the same clump of embryonic tissue. These become divided and one develops into your central nervous system and the other into your enteric nervous system (your “gut” brain) During later stages of fetal development, these two brains then became connected via a massive nerve -- the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is the longest of all our cranial nerves, and creates a direct connection between your brain and your gut. Because of this direct brain-gut connection, the state of your gut has a profound influence on your psychological well being.
Bi-directional brain-gut interactions play an important role in the regulation of many vital functions in health and disease. In health-regulation of digestive processes (including appetite and food intake), and the gut immune system.
In disease, altered brain-gut interactions may underlie the symptom generation in functional GI disorders (FGIDs), and in the pathophysiology of various eating disorders.
Routes of communication include:
neural (physical connection) immune system hormonal system Infection
The hormonal stress system is one of the major routes of communication between the brain and the gut! Threat to homeostasis that evokes an adaptive response. Healthy individuals – stress response systems are turned on and off quickly. Pathological stressors. Genetic or early life events can alter ability to adapt to stress. Stress is a major component in functional gastrointestinal disorders.
Stress and the gut
Activation of the HPA axis (ie CRF, ACTH, cortisol) • Increase in gut permeability • Increase in mucosal inflammation • Changes in GI motor function • Changes in gut flora
Mind, Body and SOUL?
Many mystical and natural healing practices consider the belly a major center of energy and higher consciousness. In China, the art of Tai Chi emphasise the lower abdomen as a major reservoir for life energy and health. The belly is considered the “dantian,” a key center for higher consciousness development.
Gut feelings: Chakras
Subtle energetic system within each of us comprised of 7 vital energy centers and 3 interconnecting, parallel channels Govern specific aspects of our physical, psychological and spiritual being Third centre in our subtle system is called "nabhi" or "Manipur" chakra. Its physical location is at about the level of the navel Physically ,it deals with our organs of digestion, psychologically it deals with our sense of satisfaction and spiritually it deals both with our "prosperity", "generosity" as well as with our innate sense of right and wrong. Often that “Gut Feeling” is us being sensitive to the state of the Nabhi chakra
Branch of medicine that deals with nutrition and its effects on the brain chemistry-orthomolecular psychiatry In the 1950s two psychiatrists, Dr. Abraham Hoffer and Dr. Osmond, discovered that certain people showed signs of mental illness if they were deficient in vitamin B3 (niacin) Other peoples mental illnesss could be helped by administering large amounts of certain nutrients that were either deficient in their diet for which these individuals had unusually high requirements 1976, Dr Mackarness published a book titled “Not all in the mind”allergies in mentally ill patients may promote malabsorption leading to deficienies
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter present in both the brain and the gut. It is involved in mood, sleep as well as gut motility
Tryptophan is the precursor to serotonin and can be found in many foods such as turkey, soyabean, watercress ect.
The chemical linked with the “high” of being in love is called phenylethylalanine. It is derived from phenylalanine – an amino acid found in many common foods including, of course, chocolate Essential fatty acids are polyunsaturated and grouped into two families, the omega-6 EFAs and the omega-3 EFAs. Omega-3 is found in flaxseed oil, walnut oil, and fatty fish The predominant fatty acid found in fish oils are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). The human brain is one of the largest "consumers" of DHA. Low DHA levels have been linked to low brain serotonin levels which again are connected to an increased tendency to depression, suicide, and violence.
What can go wrong?
individuals are more prone to disorders than others-predisposing factors Disorders of the Gastrointestinal tract
Leaky gut syndrome Infections Allergies Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
A food allergy is an immunologic response to a food protein. There are eight foods that account for 90% of all food-allergic reactions. These are: milk, egg, peanut, tree nut (walnut, cashew, etc.), fish, shellfish and soy and wheat. There is no cure for food allergies. Treatment consists of avoidance diets, in which the allergic person avoids all forms of the food to which they are allergic. Food allergy is distinct from food intolerance, which is not caused by an immune reaction. Persons diagnosed with a food allergy may carry an autoinjector of epinephrine wear some form of medical alert jewelry, or develop an emergency action plan, in accordance with their doctor.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Most common GI functional disorder diagnosed by gastroenterologists affecting about 5-10% of the population with female predominance of 2-3:1 Symptom complex including abdominal pain, altered bowel function, bloating, mucosal inflammation, exaggerated stress response, increases in plasma pro-inflammatory cytokines
Stress (including early life stress) plays a major role in the onset and exacerbation of symptoms in IBS
Recent studies have shown that there may be a brain-gut axis dysfunction involved in IBS
Treatment options for IBS are symptom based and include: Laxatives Loperamide (Imodium) Antispasmodics Antidepressants Serotonin receptor agonists/ antaginsts
Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a group of inflammatory conditions of the large intestine and, in some cases, the small intestine. The main forms of IBD are Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis(UC) The main difference between Crohn's disease and UC is the location and nature of the inflammatory changes. Treatment includes:
Immunosuppression Steroids Surgery
Beneficial bacteria that can be introduced into the digestive system through food. Probiotic foods are a group of functional foods. Most commercially promoted products with probiotic properties contain strains of Lactobacillus bacteria or Bifidobacteria. Found to be effective in the treatment of some disorders of the gut that are associated with an imbalance in the gut flora. Illness, poor diet, stress, aging, infection by food poisoning and the use of medications can disturb the flora balance
Gillian McKeith- holistic nutritionist “Empower people to improve their lives through information, food and lifestyle”. Faeces analysis!!!!
Keeping the balance right!
This gut flora has incredible power over your immune system, which, of course, is your body's natural defence system that keeps you healthy Therefore maintenance of a healthy gut is essential Intelligent eating Know your own system
Thanks for your attention