What is Gut Brain Connection?
Gut Brain Connection is a bidirectional link between the gut, brain and microbiome. Inflammation of the GI tract can place stress on the microbiome through the release of cytokines and neurotransmitters. It is estimated that 90% percent of Serotonin is made in the GI tract. The increase in intestinal permeability or leaky gut, these molecules then travel systemically through the GI barrier. “Elevated blood levels of cytokines TNF-a and MCP (monocyte chemoattractant protein) increase the permeability of the blood-brain barrier, enhancing the effects of rogue molecules from the permeable gut.” When the GI tract has a disruption with release of these inflammatory substances, it influences brain function, leading to anxiety, depression, and memory loss.
Clapp, Aurora, et al. (2015). Gut microbiota’s effect on mental health: The gut-brain axis.
What is Leaky Gut?
We have an extensive intestinal lining covering in our intestines which is less than cellophane thick and more than 4,000 square feet of surface area or the size of 2 tennis courts. Tight junctions of villae in the intestinal wall form a tight barrier that controls what gets absorbed into the bloodstream. In an unhealthy gut lining the tight junctions have gaps, allowing partially digested food, toxins, and bacteria to penetrate the tissues beneath it. This may trigger inflammation and changes in the gut flora. Genetic predisposition and the standard American diet (high in sugar and saturated fats and low on fiber) can lead to gut inflammation. Stress can make this inflammation worse. A leaky gut may allow environmental factors to enter the body and trigger the development of autoimmune disease.
Leaky Gut As a Danger Signal for Autoimmune Diseases, Frontiers in Immunology, 5/2017.