There are a lot of factors in our life that affect our moods – work, personal life, food, family & friends, music, and so forth. But did you know that your gut also controls your mood? You’ve obviously heard the terms and maybe even used some of them; “I have butterflies”, “go with your gut”, “I’m feeling uneasy in my stomach”. These terms are not a coincidence, but have a reason behind it. You’d be surprised to know that the gut is actually very sensitive to your mood. Anger, happiness, anxiety – all of these emotions can trigger your gut!
So why do we get butterflies in our stomach?
This is associated with the body’s “fight or flight response”. When the senses in the brain are heightened due to potential threat, anxiety, or excitement, the brain increases awareness by raising heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing. At the same time, the nervous system stimulates the adrenal glands, which releases hormones including adrenaline (a hormone that transfers short-term impulses fast) and cortisol (a steroid that helps the body regulate its response to stress) that can turn the body tense which can also cause you to sweat and in return, perspiration helps cool the body. Along with all this, the stomach muscles become extra sensitive, causing the fluttery sensation.
We have more than one brain in our body!
Scientists call the “enteric nervous system” (ENS) in your gut the second brain of the body. This system is two thin layers of more than 100 million nerve cells that line from the gastrointestinal tract to the esophagus to the rectum 2 and links to the brain also known as the brain-gut axis. So when we feel an extreme emotion like nervousness, or excitement the feeling also gets transmitted to the gut, causing butterflies in your stomach.1
Find out how your bowels can cause anxiety & depression.
While the ENS’s main function in your body is to control digestion from swallowing and releasing the enzymes to breaking down the food to controlling the blood flow that helps with nutrient absorption to elimination, it also communicates with our main brain which is why the health of your gut also affects your mental health. For centuries researchers and doctors thought that depression and anxiety caused irritable bowel systems but it with new research and development, studies show a possibility that a poor gut, which causes the gastrointestinal system to send signals to the central nervous system, causing extreme mood swings. 3 Your gut also has an internal complex ecosystem of bacteria located within our bodies that we call the microbiome. The vast majority of the bacterial species that make up our microbiome live in our digestive systems. 4 Your gut’s microbiome produces more serotonin (a “happy mood” neurotransmitter) than your brain, and about 95 percent of serotonin receptors are found in the gut itself. Hence, you can understand how much your gut can affect your mood.
Try this out!
Try out the list below for a better brain-gut connection and to help maintain a healthy gut, and minimal mood swings!