Emotional health and gut health
Emotional health and gut health: Why are they so closely linked?
”The digestive tract contains about 100 million neurons that regulate the intestinal tract. These neurons control the peristalsis of the intestine, the secretion of digestive substances and the blood flow to this part of the body”, explains Dr. Ámina Alani, digestive health expert at SHA Wellness Clinic.
Furthermore, certain species of gut microbiota stimulate endocrine cells in the gut to produce neurotransmitters such as serotonin, which is involved in the regulation of all gastrointestinal activities as well as emotional well-being.
“Therefore, think about the digestive system as a ‘second brain’. Emotions and thoughts are communicated to the gut, and you might hear about the gut-brain axis as a result of this connection. Our emotional state influences our digestive health, and vice versa“, summarises the SHA Wellness Clinic specialist.
The delicate connection between brain and gut
We’ve all felt those ”butterflies in the stomach“ when we’re nervous. They are signals coming from that “second brain” Dr Alani talks about.
It is hidden in the walls of the digestive system and is revolutionising medicine’s understanding of the links between digestion, mood, health even the way we think.
Scientists call this tiny brain the enteric nervous system, thin layers of more than a hundred million nerve cells that line our gastrointestinal tract from the oesophagus to the rectum.
Its main function is to control the digestive process: from swallowing to the breakdown of food and the absorption of nutrients to their elimination. You could say that the enteric nervous system communicates with our brain at very deep levels.
The enteric nervous system and emotional changes
The enteric nervous system can trigger major emotional changes in people with digestive disorders like irritable bowel syndrome or functional bowel problems such as constipation, diarrhoea, bloating, stomach pain and discomfort.
New research has shown that irritation in the gastrointestinal system can send signals to the central nervous system and cause mood swings and emotional instability. All these new findings help explain why a higher-than-normal percentage of people with irritable bowel syndrome and digestive tract issues are more likely to develop depression and anxiety. And it is worth remembering that 30 to 40 percent of the population has bowel problems at some point in their lives.
SHA Wellness Clinic and intestinal and emotional care
This new approach to digestive pathology also highlights the effectiveness of treatments designed to care for and treat the intestine from a holistic, multidisciplinary approach, also taking into consideration mind-body therapies, as SHA Wellness Clinic has been doing for years.
“A problematic gut can send signals to the brain, just as a problematic brain can send signals to the gut. Therefore, stomach or gut discomfort can be the cause or the product of anxiety, stress or depression. That’s because the brain and the gastrointestinal system are intimately connected”, explains Harvard Medical School.
This is something to keep in mind, especially in cases where a person experiences gastrointestinal discomfort without an obvious physical cause. For such disorders, it is particularly useful to consider the possible role that stress and emotion may be playing.
“Multiple studies have found that psychology-based approaches lead to substantial improvement in digestive symptoms compared to conventional medical treatment alone”, notes Harvard Medical School.
SHA Wellness Clinic proposes an innovative Digestive Health Focused Pack in which, along with therapies such as intestinal ozone therapy, serum therapy and colon hydrotherapy, includes stress management and emotional eating sessions. Because gut health is overall health.