• Heather Morse MS, ATC, OTC & Crystal Barber MBA

The Gut; Your Second Brain

It’s a tough call, as there are very few hard facts to go on. So it’s time to use your second brain!

Don’t worry, you’ve probably used your second brain countless times before; it’s just that when you did, you probably referred to it as ‘gut instinct or a gut feeling’.

New research is showing that this age-old phrase is surprisingly accurate. We really do have a second brain that influences our judgment, emotions and much more. Known as the Enteric Nervous System (ENS) – enteric meaning ‘to do with intestines’ – it’s an extensive

network of brain-like neurons and neurotransmitters wrapped in and around our gut. It's

common to overlook the health of our gastrointestinal system, even though it contains 10

times more health-determining bacteria than the rest of our body. Protecting us from

infection, supporting our metabolism, and promoting healthy digestion and elimination.

With the latest research clearly showing that a leaky gut is connected to 100’s of

untreatable (and often unexplainable) medical conditions, gut health is now a topic of

conversation in many healthcare circles.

Your gut has capabilities that surpass all your other organs, and even rival your brain. This second brain is made up of 50-100 million nerve cells, as many as are contained in your

spinal cord. Numerous studies in the past two decades have demonstrated links between

gut health and the immune system, mood, mental health disorders, autoimmune diseases,

skin conditions, chronic pain, hormone imbalance, and cancer.

Your gut has an incredible amount of control over your overall health. But it can be kind of

confusing to understand why. The power of a healthy gut is stronger than you might

realize. In fact, a healthy gut microbiome could even add years to your life. When your gut

is balanced with good bacteria, it works properly to defend your body from infections,

colds, and illness.

FUN FACT: 70 % to 80% of the immune system is in the gut!

The gut is in constant communication with our brain. The microbiome in the gut plays a vital role in your mental health, mood stabilization, the way your body responds to stress. It regulates hormone function and has even been linked to your sleep patterns.

Lack of sleep can affect your gut heath—and vice versa. A growing number of studies now suggest that the vast and diverse microbial ecosystem of the gut has its own daily rhythms. These microbiome rhythms appear to be deeply entwined with circadian rhythms—research

suggests that both circadian and microbial rhythms are capable of influencing and

disrupting the other. In addition, when the gut is not functioning properly it leads to

inflammation. Over time, chronic inflammation can trigger your immune system to attack

healthy tissue and organs in your body. When left untreated, prolonged chronic

inflammation can increase your risk for diseases like diabetes, heart disease, cancer and

rheumatoid arthritis.

Kiyp Holmes FNP-C and Brett Enabnit RPh, both providers with Traditional Family Medical Center, review labs for a patient.

Brett Enabnit RPh, Functional Medicine Practitioner at Traditional Family Medical Center specializes in gut health related to these exact issues. He states "...I dive down into someone's personal life and we talk about their sleep, we talk about their GI function, we talk about how many times they go to the bathroom, we get really personal in our discussions of gut health, I have to know these things to treat you correctly. Nutrition is almost always the NO. 1 problem I see and sticking with the right nutrition. Is it a diet? Diets are ludacris, They don't work. Diets are part time workers never getting the job done." "You can't eat foods that inflame you all the time because you're going to have problems."

THE BOTTOM LINE: Lower microbiota diversity has been tied to conditions such as

inflammatory bowel disease, hormone imbalance, autoimmune disease, diabetes, chronic

pain and cancer. To keep your gut healthy, stay hydrated and eat a wide variety of

gut-friendly foods. Take care of the friendly bacteria in your gut, and they will help take

care of you!

At Traditional Family Medical Center, we employ functional medicine techniques and

nutrition interventions which are key components of personalized therapeutic strategies

aimed to address gastrointestinal imbalances and the individual patient’s overall health.

Contact our office today to learn more about our joining of Functional Medicine Program


2350 Whitesburg Dr

Huntsville, AL 35801

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