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  • Writer's pictureMannat Barhey

A Critical Connection: The Bidirectional Communication Between The Brain and Gut Via The Vagus Nerve

The brain functions in a variety of fascinating ways. It's difficult to grasp how much it interacts with the rest of our body given that it performs hundreds of tasks in a matter of milliseconds. Do you ever lose your appetite or have stomach knots all of a sudden? Although it's something that happens regularly for most people, we don't typically dwell upon the crucial connection between our brain and gut. The gut-brain axis is a vital and dynamic component of the human body. Since there are around 500 million neurons in the stomach, the science of the brain is present throughout the entire body. Your vagus nerve, which links your neurological system to your gut, is the major star controlling all of this. Take a look at this massive nerve diagram and the key organs it communicates with throughout the body.

Image: https://ndakotalaw.com/nerve-damage-is-a-complex-and-catastrophic-injury/


This bi-direcional communication of the brain and gut can even control our mood and mental health. But how exactly does this happen? Your body's fungi, bacteria, and viruses—collectively referred to as your microbiome— is where it all begins. Food digestion and general bodily health are supported by the microbes in your gut. The gut-brain route is a two-way channel for the movement of substances throughout the body. Therefore, when you consume excessive amounts of sugar, fat, and meat, your microbiome's health declines, consequently negatively affecting the brain,emotions and general mental health. A healthy microbiome system should be maintained with organic and natural meals. The bad bacteria in your gut is defeated by prebiotic foods, leading to a stronger digestive system. Therefore, the food you eat directly affects both the microbiome's health and the neurotransmitters that are made in the gut. These crucial neurotransmitters include dopamine, norepinephrine, serotonin, melatonin, and many others.


However, the gut-brain axis is even more complex than this. In fact, studies suggest that the human body contains more bacteria than human cells. Keeping the vagus nerve healthy also regulates food intake, keeps the gastrointestinal system in balance, and keeps inflammation at rest. One of the most crucial aspects is that it improves vagus nerve stimulation (VNS), which has an impact on our cognitive performance. Damage to the vagus nerve has the potential to cause gastroparesis, diarrhea, bloating, nausea, permanent nerve damage, a slower heartbeat, and vocal cord paralysis. When the vagus nerve is unhealthy, it causes chaos throughout the body because it extends over numerous locations and has a vast distribution inside it. To improve the overall health of your body and brain, it is therefore crucial to maintain a healthy gut.


Therefore, keep the vagus nerve in mind the next time you feel unpleasant after eating or when an emotion you're experiencing affects your appetite. The vagus nerve has an enormous effect on your general wellness and mental health.


“The vagus nerve is the conductor of the human body symphony orchestra.”Navaz Habib


Resources:

  • Carabotti, M., Scirocco, A., Maselli, M. A., & Severi, C. (2015). The gut-brain axis: Interactions between enteric microbiota, Central and Enteric Nervous Systems. Annals of gastroenterology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4367209/

  • Steve Glaveski. (2021, May 3). Mindblowing facts about your gut-brain connection. Medium. https://medium.com/steveglaveski/mindblowing-facts-about-your-gut-brain-connection-1fff9034 6195#:~:text=The%20gut%20is%20the%20largest,%2C%20and%20overall%20well%2Dbeing

  • The truth behind the gut-brain connection: St. luke’s health: St. luke’s health. stlukeshealth. (2019, November 8). https://www.stlukeshealth.org/resources/truth-behind-gut-brain-connection#:~:text=The%20va gus%20nerve%20also%20serves,that%20lives%20in%20your%20inthttps://www.stlukeshealt h.org/resources/truth-behind-gut-brain-connection#:~:text=The%20vagus%20nerve%20also% 20serves,that%20lives%20in%20your%20intestineestine

  • Robertson, R. (2023, April 3). How does your gut microbiome impact your overall health?. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/gut-microbiome-and-health#:~:text=Your%20gut%20micro biome%20is%20made,many%20other%20aspects%20of%20health

  • The gut microbiome and the brain. Hopkins Bloomberg Public Health Magazine. (n.d.). https://magazine.jhsph.edu/2021/gut-microbiome-and-brain#:~:text=The%20microbiome%20a ffects%20your%20gut,%2C%20behavioral%2C%20and%20neurological%20health

  • Petre, A. (2023, March 31). The Microbiome Diet Review. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/microbiome-diet#effectiveness

  • Gould, K. (2022, September 16). The vagus nerve: Your body’s communication superhighway. LiveScience. https://www.livescience.com/vagus-nerve.html#:~:text=If%20the%20vagus%20nerve%20beco mes,cords%20and%20slowed%20heart%20rate

  • Breit, S., Kupferberg, A., Rogler, G., & Hasler, G. (2018, March 13). Vagus nerve as modulator of the brain-gut axis in psychiatric and inflammatory disorders. Frontiers in psychiatry. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5859128/#:~:text=The%20vagus%20nerve%20 is%20an,%2C%20satiety%2C%20and%20energy%20homeostasis

  • Carpenter, Dr. S. (2012, September). That gut feeling. Monitor on Psychology. https://www.apa.org/monitor/2012/09/gut-feeling#:~:text=Gut%20bacteria%20both%20produc e%20and,to%20regulate%20mood%20and%20cognition



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