The nervous system, which is akin to a supercomputer, is responsible for evaluating a huge amount of information. It processes the signals coming from all parts of your body while releasing targeted, specific instructions for directing the various functions of vital organs and systems. The reactions to the environment are also managed by the nervous system to increase your ability to comprehend and react to all that’s occurring around you. The proper functioning of the nervous system is essential for enabling all communications and actions.
Interestingly, your gut, digestive system, and the brain are in constant communication with each other. They form a kind of information highway that’s referred to as the vagus nerve. A lot of information reaches the nervous system from the gut. Contrary to what most people believe, it’s not the other way around. This is why the gut is often referred to as the ‘second brain’ in the body. The actions of the gut are managed through a plethora of reflex circuits that are responsible for governing them effectively.
The nervous system comprises of neurons and neurotransmitters that affect the actions of each other. Serotonin is among the most commonly used neurotransmitters. It is responsible for governing the messages of anxiety, wellbeing, contentment, satiety, fear, and other emotions. Here, we help you take a closer look at the properties and functions of serotonin and why it’s important for the health of your gut.
Serotonin- The Happy Hormone
As per experts in the fields of health and nutrition, serotonin or the ‘feel-good hormone’ serves as neurotransmitter and hormone in the human body. According to Dr. Todd Watts from https://microbeformulas.com/, the gut is responsible for 90 percent of the production of an essential neurotransmitter that naturally occurs in the body called serotonin. Depression, anxiety, low mood, autism, and other brain-related conditions are linked with any visible changes in the serotonin levels. Because of the importance of serotonin in the maintenance of mental wellbeing, it may be expected that it’s largely produced and found in the brain. However, that’s not how it is. The production of 5-hydroxytryptamine or serotonin is attributed to the enterochromaffin (EC) cells found in the lining of the digestive tract.
Serotonin and Mental Health
As per recent research and study reports, gut bacteria are responsible for affecting the production and functions of serotonin in the gut. There are specific kinds of gut bacteria that are known to generate adequate quantities of serotonin on their own. These bacteria are also influential in altering the functions of other neurotransmitters. For instance, the enterochromaffin cells mentioned above respond effectively to the mechanical and chemical stimuli taking place in the gut. This is where the gut bacteria show their presence and bring about different results in the levels of serotonin. Say, if you have consumed food that’s contaminated with E. coli, a harmful bacterium., you will find the EC cells are releasing higher quantities of serotonin. This, in turn, aids the expulsion of the food remains in the gut to escalate your wellness.
You’ll come across beneficial microbes that are helpful in the production of short-chain fatty acids such as butyrate. These fatty acids are responsible for influencing the production of serotonin in enough quantities in the enterochromaffin cells. Microbes are also useful in changing the overall availability of tryptophan, the amino acid necessary for the cause of serotonin production.
The optimal production of serotonin is a must for maintaining good physical and mental health. The levels of serotonin produced within the gut have several local effects, especially in the regulation of peristalsis. Peristalsis refers to the regular rhythmic movement of the muscles in the gut. These movements help move the contents of the gut along the digestive canal. Serotonin also regulates the digestive secretions as well as the feelings of pain or nausea. However, any excessive production of serotonin, such as that caused by food poisoning, is capable of bringing on significant gastrointestinal distress in the case of humans.
Other Concerns Related to Serotonin Production
The involvement of serotonin is also visible in the case of irritable bowel syndrome that causes more sensitivity to pain and changes in gut movements. Another important concern that can be linked to reduced serotonin activities is depression. SRIs or Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors belong to a special type of medication class that’s known for treating depression. These inhibitors are known to function whenever there is increased serotonin activity in between the neurons.
Serotonin and Probiotics
Research reports have shown associations between digestive functions, gut microbes, and the mental wellbeing of humans. For instance, in the case of patients suffering from irritable bowel syndrome, it’s possible to find reduced levels of Lactobacillus strains than what’s present in healthy people. The use of probiotics, such as lactobacillus acidophilus with Bio-K+, has the possibility of restoring a healthier community of probiotics in the gut to increase the levels of digestive wellbeing. Also, several triggers of depression are also capable of being modified by gut microbes. Probiotics are immensely effective in enabling healthier moods and are often considered in place of the commonly found anti-depressant medication.
Last Word: The Brain-Gut Axis
Do know that the overall health of your digestive tract and gut are interlinked in many more ways than one. For instance, any changes in your thought patterns can affect your gut and vice versa. It is important to avoid day-to-day stresses as the same can cause Crohn’s disease, flares of IBS5, as well as ulcerative colitis. In other words, the state of health of your gut strongly influences your mental well-being. As there is a strong and evident relationship between anxiety, depression, as well as irritable bowel syndrome, it is important to take the right measures to keep your gut health in good condition at all times. If you can feel any difference in the brain-gut axis, do not hesitate to get in touch with your health care advisor to understand what may have gone wrong with your gut. Take care.