(Awaken | Dr. Alberto Villoldo) Let’s talk about the link between what goes in our guts and how it affects our brains.
What is the gut brain?
The brain in your gut is a network of more than 100 million neurons that communicate directly with the brain in your skull. This “gut brain” isn’t concerned with poetry, love, philosophy, or whether there’s life after death. Its job is the daily grind of digestion: breaking down food to extract and absorb nutrients and eliminate wastes.
The gut-brain is a superhighway with many lanes where information is continuously flowing between the brain in the head and the brain in the belly. Mental and emotional stress triggers physical responses that affect the gut, while disturbances in the microbiome—the colony of microorganisms in the gut—affect the functioning and health of the brain. Toxins in the gut are associated with most of the diseases of modern living.
The gut communicates with your brain
Toxins in the gut also create an obstacle to our experience of oneness. How does this work? The gut communicates with your brain through the vagus nerve, which snakes up through the body from the gut telling your brain if you are hungry or satisfied and relaying the messages of your gut-instinct. The gut also produces 90 percent of the serotonin in the body. Serotonin is both a hormone and a neurotransmitter and plays a crucial role in developing our forebrain, the region of the neocortex where learning, spirituality, love or altruism can be experienced.
Serotonin also enhances the growth of neurons in the hippocampus, the region of the brain that allows us to have new experiences. When this part of the brain is damaged we no longer learn anything new. We live in a world of “been there, done that.” At dusk, our pineal gland converts serotonin into melatonin to signal the brain that it’s time to release the ordinary world and enter the realm of sleep and dreams. Some call serotonin the “feel good” or “happiness” hormone. It is chemically analogous to DMT, the “spirit molecule”.
The pineal gland produces enough DMT for us to have the experience of Oneness, and a sense of our interconnectedness with all creation. So, attending to gut health is important and we must focus on limiting the ravages caused by our poor eating habits and sedentary lifestyles. When the gut biome becomes unbalanced with harmful microorganisms, they begin to produce toxins that wreak havoc with your immune system and alter your mood.
Bugs and your belly
If the bugs in your belly aren’t happy, you aren’t happy, no matter how many self-help books you read or how much yoga you do. Ask yourself the following: Do I sleep well? Can I recall my dreams in the morning when I wake up? Am I able to dream lucidly, knowing I’m dreaming while I’m in the dream? Do I learn rapidly? Am I able to adapt to new situations easily? Can I leave work stress in the office and not take it home?
If you answered no to any of these questions you need to upgrade your gut!
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