If you’ve seen a health professional (or professionals) for depression and no one has asked you the question: “Are you regular?”, you need to understand how a healthy bowel is related to your mood. (Aside from the fact that being irregular is uncomfortable).
Your nervous system is the component of your body that allows information to travel from your brain to the rest of your biology. A major component of that system is called the enteric nervous system (ENS). It’s also commonly referred to as your “gut brain” since it sits at the top of your gut.
How the two brains interact
Your “gut brain” and your actual brain are made from the same types of tissue. Which means the gut brain contains sheaths of neurons that are embedded in the walls of your gut. They both produce the neurotransmitter – or chemical messenger – called serotonin. Your gut produces 95 percent of all the serotonin in your body.
In terms of digestion the serotonin is your gut helps stimulate enzymes from the pancreas. It helps you break down food and move food through your digestive tract.
The gut brain and brain in your head, your cranial brain, cranial brain talk to one another through what’s known as the vagus nerve, that extends from the base of your brain to the abdomen.
U.C.L.A.’s Dr. Emeran Mayer is researching how the trillions of bacteria in the gut “communicate” with enteric nervous system cells. His believes that in the coming years psychiatry will need to expand to treat the second brain in addition to the one atop the shoulders.
A good reason to learn how you can stay regular. If you are suffering from bowel issues, treating those issues could help improve your mood.