Did you know that impaired brain function can affect digestive health? Yes! It’s true! If you suffer from unexplained gastrointestinal issues, even AFTER changing and or cleaning up your diet, the health of your brain may be the missing link!
When our brain ages, degenerates or becomes impaired our brains overall activation decreases and this decrease affects our digestion!
There is an intimate relationship between the gut and the brain and it’s called the gut brain axis. This axis is how the gut and the brain communicate with each other. If this is surprising to you, you’re not alone!
Most people are not aware that the two are interrelated and “talk” to each other. However, current research is exploding with new discoveries on how they do exactly just that! For example, many gastrointestinal disorders are now being attributed to disturbed neural function along this gut-brain axis.
The brain communicates with your digestions nervous system (called the esoteric system and or “second brain”) through a large nerve called the vagus nerve. This pathway emerges from the brainstem and wanders to all the organs of the body, including those in your digestive tract.
It looks something like this:
Image Credit: Google Images
…and the overall process happens sort of like this:
1. The brain activates the brainstem.
2. The brainstem activates the vagus nerve.
3. The vagus nerve stimulates your digestion.
How exactly does it simulate your digestion?
So, how can you tell if your brain is impaired and hence, your vagus nerve is impaired?
Poor memory, inability to find words, or difficulty learning new things are just a few examples of impaired brain function. While many of these symptoms are many times attributed to normal aging, they are anything but normal!
While the causes of brain impairment and or what constitutes an aging brain and it's health are beyond the scope of this post, the good news is that brain function and more specifically, vagus nerve function can be restored!
By exercising it. The same way you’d exercise a muscle into shape is the same way you can maintain or restore your gut brain axis into shape.
There are several exercises you can do that can help activate this pathway but my personal favorite and one I’ll suggest for now, is singing!
Photo Credit: Pixabay
Singing, LOUDLY, works the muscles in the back of the throat and this working, helps activate your vagus nerve.
Perform this exercise daily for several weeks and you’ll start noticing a difference in your digestion!
Keep in mind that loss of vagal tone is almost always secondary to loss of brain function. So finding a new favorite song, and taking the time to learn the lyrics will ALSO help indirectly strengthen your vagus nerve by strengthening your brain. Learning something new is just one of many ways to help strengthen brain activity.
This is just one small exercise that you can do daily that will lead to BIG results!
As always, if you’re ready to finally rid yourself of your digestive discomfort once and for all, contact me today!
Why Isn’t My Brain Working? Datis Kharrazian, DHSc, DC, MS