What is NeuroBelly?
What is NeuroBelly?
‘NeuroBelly’ is a word I’ve coined to denote the extensive nervous system found in our gut. It refers to two thin, mesh-like layers of more than 500 million nerve cells lining our gut wall from oesophagus to rectum. For comparison, the brain in your head contains about 200 times more neurons than your gut, but your gut has roughly the same number of neurons as the brain of a cat.
Many people refer to this as the ‘gut brain’ or ‘second brain’. Its formal name is the enteric nervous system (EN) and it controls our digestive processes including swallowing, regulating intestinal blood flow and releasing enzymes to break down food. It also plays a significant role in our mental health.
How can NeuroBelly help you?
The gut brain communicates with the head brain through a long, large nerve called the vagus and there is constant two-way communication between the two brains. Signals from the gut can reach several different areas of the brain, particularly those regions involved in regulating our emotions, motivations, fear and memory. This is why we often feel emotions in our gut. Stress is described as a churning sensation in the stomach. When we’re nervous, we talk about having butterflies in our tummy, and when we’re seriously scared we get diarrhoea. It’s also common to have a ‘gut feeling’ about something.Irritation of the gut (eg irritable bowel syndrome, coeliac disease, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease) is frequently associated with mood disorders. In short, if something isn’t right in the gut, it’s often reflected in our mental health. It’s as if the gut is telling the brain: ‘Hey mate, do something to get us out of this mess’.
The bi-directional relationship between head brain and gut brain is also mediated by the trillions of microorganisms that populate our digestive tract. This is another example of how everything is interconnected. Hence our food choices impact not only our physical health but also our mental and emotional wellbeing.
I was at at The Real Food Revolution in Cairns over the weekend with amazing guest speakers and the absolute hit was Dr Helena Popovic!
Very enjoyable and informative. The sugar talk opened my eyes and the demonstration has embedded my new view on how I will be approaching sugar.
Loved the sugar talk. I feel empowered to make changes and give myself permission to ‘eat and enjoy’. I have clarity in moving forward. It was great!