Our gut has it’s own nervous system, called the Enteric Nervous System (ENS). The ENS communicates with our brain via the ‘gut-brain axis’.
- Gut-brain communication is two way; what goes on in the mind influences our digestion, and vice versa.
- The gut microbiota plays an important role in this communication.
- People with several brain related conditions also experience gastrointestinal symptoms and have an altered gut microbiome.
In mice studies where the gut microbiota is altered there can be a dramatic change in behaviour and cognition. It is thought that the gut microbiome can affect the brain in different ways:
- It changes the actions of ENS neurons and the Vagus nerve
- The microbiome produces short-chain fatty acids that influence how brain cells develop and function
- Serotonin is produced in the gut, the microbiome helps with this production.
Looking after the health of our digestive tract and the microbiome that lives within it is important for maintaining health in the brain as well as the gut. Diet and exercise with diverse body movements will support health in the gut.
As a visceral Osteopath I am looking for signs of tension in the abdomen that might highlight dysfunction in the fascia and other soft tissues that support all the organs of the gut. Through maintaining health in these support tissues, the aim is to maintain health in the organs themselves.