What Your “Second Brain” Says About Your Health

Feeling bloated is annoying at best and a canary in the coal mine at worst.

This week, we’ve gone over how gut health can play a major role in bringing on this feeling.

But there’s even more to maintaining a healthy gut and reducing the frequency of being bloated than what you eat.

It comes from something called the gut-brain axis.

Some fascinating research has revealed an active communication line between the brain and gut… and it goes both ways.

Ivan Pavlov (from the famous dog experiments) was one of the first researchers to demonstrate this connection when he observed increased levels of gastric secretions in response to the sight or smell of food.

But we now know the connection between the gut and brain goes much deeper than that.

Not only does the brain trigger simple mechanisms in the gut… but the gut microbiota produces a wide range of neuroactive molecules.

And changes in the composition of the microbiota can result in decreased levels of these molecules and reduced cognitive ability.

As for the brain’s impact on the microbiota, it’s not limited just to releasing gastric secretions.

Dealing with chronic stress triggers a process in which the brain activates significant changes in the microbiota, as well as the surface lining of the gastrointestinal tract… and not for the better.

These changes result in an imbalance of the colonies of bacteria, which can limit nutrient availability.

Even worse, this back and forth plays a menacing role in the development of many inflammation-based conditions.

This imbalance has been linked to attention deficit hypersensitivity disorder, mood disorders, multiple sclerosis, obesity and even autism spectrum disorders.

As you can clearly see, simple bloating from an imbalance in the gut microbiota can be an early warning sign of many other more serious conditions.

Since we went over ways to balance the gut with diet yesterday, today we’ll explore some easy lifestyle changes you can take to reduce stress and its grip on your gut.

De-Stress the Gut

It might sound contradictory, but putting the body through a little physical stress through exercise can have a huge impact on reducing mental stress.

The process of engaging in exercise lowers the levels of cortisol released (aka the stress hormone) by the adrenal glands.

Working up the occasional sweat also increases the release of endorphins that improve mood.

Incidentally, regular exercise has been shown to improve sleep quality… and we all know how waking up on the wrong side of the bed can impact our mood and stress levels for the rest of the day.

This doesn’t mean you need to start pumping iron though.

We’re big fans of simple calisthenics…

No gym membership or expensive equipment required.

Most people can knock out a couple handfuls of pushups, some crunches, a minute or two with a jump rope, and a dozen burpees in 15 minutes or less. And if you can’t, you’ve got yourself a very beneficial and attainable goal for 2020.

De-stressing doesn’t have to be stressful though. Instead of tuning in to the news or the latest episode of Criminal Minds, put on something funny.

Laughter isn’t quite the best medicine, but it’s been proven that watching something funny offers more stress relief than watching dramas or just being distracted.

But even if you feel like you just don’t have time for exercise… or refuse to give up watching crime dramas… there’s still hope for you and your gut.

Cannabis-derived CBD has been shown in clinical trials to reduce anxiety and stress.

There are a lot of ways to administer CBD… including oral sprays, oils, topical lotions and even candles… all of which can have a beneficial impact on stress levels.

The sprays and oils are – as they sound – taken orally.

As for the lotions, some people have found stress relief from rubbing a bit of CBD lotion on their temples.

Another natural way to reduce stress is by taking a melatonin supplement.

Melatonin increases gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) levels in certain parts of the brain… and high levels of GABA have been proven to lead to a calming effect.

Now that you know some tried-and-true ways to de-stress your mind (and your gut), what are you waiting for?

Procrastination has also been proven to result in increased levels of stress.

So get out in front of it and avoid having to play catchup to cure that bloated feeling.

Have questions or want to learn more about the gut-brain axis? Shoot us an email here.

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