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gut-brain connections
Healthy Living
February 9, 2024

Understanding the Gut-Brain Connection

Have you ever had a gut feeling about something? What about those nervous “butterflies in your stomach”? You might be sensing the link between your brain and what some call the “second brain”—your gut! The gut and brain are connected in many ways, and gut health can seriously affect your overall well-being. Here are some fast facts about the gut-brain connection and how it affects the rest of your body.

How it Works

The gut is part of the gastrointestinal system and includes the stomach, intestines and more. Its main job is to process things we eat and drink and break them down into nutrients for our body to use. The brain relays the senses we experience, controls movement and communicates to the rest of the body through nerves. But did you know the gut also communicates with your body and brain? In fact, new research on the nervous system shows an even greater connection to the brain than previously thought.

“Gut-wrenching” feelings or the impulse to “go with your gut” may actually reflect the influence the gut has on your mind and body, so it’s important to be aware of their relationship. Your gut is lined with a set of nerves called the enteric nervous system, which controls digestion and communication with the central nervous system, or brain.

The gut and brain talk nonstop, sending messages about everything from hunger and swallowing to anxiety and stress. Your brain can tell the gut that food is coming so it can prepare to digest it. When full, the gut lets your brain know so you can stop eating. Have you ever eaten food that made you sick? The gut might use chemical signals to tell your brain it’s in trouble, making you feel stressed or anxious.

Digestion and the Immune System

The gut enables us to digest what we eat and drink. Digestion is important because we need nutrients like proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and water to properly move through our system. The gut breaks down nutrients with stomach acid, making sure they are small enough for your body to use.

The stomach and intestines are full of trillions of microorganisms that live and work inside of it. This is called the gut microbiome. In addition to digestion and communication, the microbiome plays a key role in the immune system, protecting us from harmful germs and diseases. Most of these tiny organisms help us. A healthy gut is essential to a working immune system.

The Role of Water

Staying hydrated helps your gut do its job better. It might be the simplest way to promote gut health! Water has many health benefits, including breaking down foods and moving nutrients to other parts of the body. It also prevents constipation and reduces inflammation, which would signal distress from your gut to your brain.

Drinking water helps keep the bacteria in your gut microbiome balanced. People who drink water often have healthy, diverse bacteria and a lower risk for infections. Water with natural minerals also helps lower inflammation. Absopure All Natural Spring Water contains natural minerals, making it a great choice for staying hydrated and maintaining a healthy gut.

Stress, Anxiety and Your Mood

The gut-brain connection can also affect your mood. There is a link between diet and mental health, and some people with unhealthy guts might even have a higher risk of depression. Keeping your gut healthy is one way to reduce stress and anxiety.

A happy gut will complain less to your brain, improving digestive health and overall mood. For a healthier gut, avoid too many sugary or processed foods. Eat a balanced diet with fruits and vegetables and be sure to drink enough water.

Next time you sense those butterflies, an instinctual tug in your stomach, listen closely! Pay attention to the gut-brain connection and trust your gut. Your second brain might just be telling you something.