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Published on: October 6, 2015
by Dr. Brian Casteels for Northumberland Today:
The health of our digestive tract plays an important role in our mental well being. Through various neural, hormonal and chemical pathways, our brain and digestive system are in constant communication. If and when imbalances develop in either system, they may cause problems in the other.
These imbalances may occur for various reasons. For example, a childhood trauma may create an anxious or stressful tendency in the system. This tendency may contribute to irritable bowel syndrome or other digestive concerns. On the other hand, a diet high in junk food, or foods an individual is sensitive to, may damage the digestive lining. This damage may promote a cascade of events that eventually aggravates a person’s mental well-being.
There are numerous factors at work to maintain balance within and between our digestive system and brain. Although other factors may also play a role, understanding and addressing how these two systems interact is important when trying to achieve optimal health.
A key component of the digestive system is the various organisms present within it. There are more than 100 trillion organisms found in the human body, and a number of them are found in the digestive tract. When these organisms are in balance, digestion is improved. There is evidence to suggest that this balance may also improve mental health.
Various strategies may be used to achieve balance within both the digestive system and the brain. A proper diet can reduce inflammation, improve the integrity of the digestive lining, promote balance of organisms and provide the brain with the right fuel. It is also important to cultivate a life-style and utilize therapies if necessary that enable us to deal with various stresses, anxiety, depression, etc., that we may experience.
Natural therapeutic strategies may come in the form of supplementation to balance the digestive tract, or possibly herbal remedies and acupuncture to improve mental well-being. By utilizing these treatments, concerns such as anxiety, depression and various digestive problems may be reduced. This is accomplished when the various systems of the body that affect digestion and brain health are functioning in a more harmonious state.
Our digestive system and brain function together as part of an integral whole. It is important that the treatment of either incorporates a holistic perspective that promotes optimal mental and physical well-being. By accomplishing this, the overall health of our brain and digestive tract may be improved.
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