A Gut Reaction

My wife, Pragya, sent me this article on the relationship between gut bacteria and mood. I did some research to better understand the article and this is the understanding I came to:

The Nervous System in humans is divided into two main divisions, the Central Nervous System (CNS), and the Peripheral Nervous System (PNS). The PNS is further subdivided into three groups, the Somatic, Autonomic, and Enteric Nervous Systems. Here’s the breakdown structurally for clarity:

  • Central Nervous System (CNS)
  • Peripheral Nervous System (PNS), further divided into:
    • Somatic Nervous System
    • Autonomic Nervous System
    • Enteric Nervous System (ENS)

At one point, researchers viewed the Enteric Nervous System as part  of the Autonomic Nervous System, but now it’s widely viewed as separate because it has it’s own reflex activity.

Now it gets interesting - the Enteric Nervous System manages the function of the gastrointestinal (GI) system - from your throat all the way past your bowels. I found this picture with a Google search that gives you a window into all of the Enteric Nervous Systems touch points with the GI Tract.

Research suggests that 90% of the body's serotonin and about 50% of the bodies dopamine is in the GI tract. Both of these neurotransmitters impact our mood. And deficiencies with either, though especially in serotonin, are closely related to depression. 

The Enteric Nervous System acts independently from our brains, and according to the article, sends more signals to the brain than the other way around. In other words, our guts affect our mood more than our brain affects our gut. 

We know that fasting has a profound impact on gut health by balancing your microbiome (gut bacteria), and that when we fast, it changes both our relationship with food, but also the types of foods that we crave. It’s not hard to make the conjecture that a healthier gut would produce higher levels of serotonin and dopamine and send more signals of well being to the brain.

I’ve noticed that I’m considerably happier both on and after my 36Power fasting days. This article and the research I’ve cited, have helped reinforce my gut feeling on why.

Happy Fasting!