The Body and Brain Connection: Functional Medicine and Digestion

Danh NgoGut Health, Holistic Medicine DivisionLeave a Comment

Since your body is closely connected to your brain, this connection regulates everything from your diet to your digestion. Speaking of your gut, everyone suffers from digestive upset or nervous colitis in their life.

While many have chronic issues that they take medication for, they have no idea that functional medicine can help bring relief. From IBS treatment to stomach massage benefits, find out more about the body and brain connection below!

The Brain-Gut Connection and Digestion

Back in the day, scientists focused on treating different areas of the body separately to study them in different ways. But nowadays, researchers are realizing that every part of the body is connected. Thus, nothing can be treated in complete isolation.

For instance, the “brain-gut connection” is a striking example of this natural phenomenon. When it comes to the relationship between the gut and the brain, it might be a little difficult to understand at first. Here’s the breakdown.

First of all, the brain functions by sending signals to the gastrointestinal or digestive tract. The signals can either be sent through the:

  • The sympathetic nervous system, which controls the fight or flight impulse
  • The parasympathetic nervous system, which controls the rest and digest impulse

Here’s the craziest part.

The speed that these signals are sent through your body controls how your body absorbs nutrients and how fast it digests food. Not to mention that it impacts how your body secretes digestive juices too. All this is connected to the amount of inflammation in your body’s digestive system as well.

Let us explain. Confusingly enough, your digestive system also has a nervous system. Yes, you read that right.

Also known as the enteric nervous system, it contains about 100 million nerve cells. This part of your body is located near the gastrointestinal tract.

That being said, it works by receiving inputs from both the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems. But here is the catch – it doesn’t need either them to function properly.

Besides this, the enteric nervous system is connected to millions of other immune cells. Not only do your immune cells convey information, but they also survey your digestive system. Whether your GI tract is infected or your stomach is bloated, your body will communicate it!

Understanding Functional Medicine

No matter if you are interested in alternative healing or medicine, you must understand the link between your brain and your body. The best place to start is to consider functional medicine as a cure for your stomach problems.

Thanks to the connection between your brain and your gut, certain tools can control stomach problems, including:

  • Meditation
  • Mindfulness
  • Breathing exercises
  • Yoga digestive poses
  • Gut-directed hypnotherapy

It gets better. These helpful tools can also improve gastrointestinal issues, boost mood, and lower anxiety. How so?

The answer is simple: by decreasing your body’s response to stress. This happens when the sympathetic nervous system is dampened. In turn, your parasympathetic response is enhanced, which decreases inflammation in your body.

Looking for more integrative approaches?

You’re in luck. For starters, you should know that particular foods can trigger special reactions in your gut. If that sounds if this sounds familiar to you, you might be suffering from IBS, low-FODMAP, or GERD.

In addition to this, your everyday diet plays a huge role in your gut’s microbiome health. For instance, eating a more clean diet with fewer carbs and red meat instantly leads to a healthier microbiome. The result is this: a significant reduction in inflammation in your intestines.

This is a great way to reduce symptoms such as depression or fatigue that come with weak gut microbiomes. Also, having a healthy diet can reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

We can’t emphasize this enough: everyone’s body is different. All this to say that there’s nothing wrong with trying holistic approaches to reduce GI symptoms. Besides, it doesn’t hurt to reestablish a positive connection between your mind and your gut either.

Natural Bloating Remedy: Abdominal Massage

Curious about how abdominal massage helps digestion?

Allow us to explain. In case you didn’t know, massage therapy has a ton of benefits on the social, mental, physical well-being of people. Besides this, other benefits of abdominal massage include:

  • Relieving constipation 
  • Improving digestive functioning
  • Reducing bloating

Let’s face facts. Abdominal massages relieve constipation by relaxing the muscles in your stomach. As a result, your constipation is alleviated and your digestion is stimulated.

This is especially true for those who have had recent surgery. Does this sound like you?

If so, try getting a stomach massage. This can reduce constipation symptoms and control bowel movements. It can also decrease the time between bowel movements.

Better yet, add some essential oils to the mix to boost the benefits of your stomach massage. But how does stomach massage improve digestive functioning?

We’re glad that you asked. Strangely enough, receiving stomach massages can reduce the amount of liquid that you have in your stomach. Thus, your constipation and abdominal circumference shrink dramatically.

But here’s the kicker: abdominal massagers can reduce bloating as well. That’s not all. This works by reducing the amount of fluid that’s stored in your abdominal cavity.

After receiving stomach massages several times a week, expect to have your bloating go down significantly. Also, your overall being, anxiety, and deep depression might be cured too!

Learn More About the Body and Brain Connection

Want to learn more about the body and brain connection?

Thankfully, we have everything that you need to know in our handy guide. Instead of leaning on traditional medicine, why not try some of these alternatives next time your stomach hurts?

We promise that you won’t regret it!

One LOVE,

Danh Ngo PT, DPT, OCS, SCS

Doctor of Physical Therapy

Board Certified Specialist in Orthopedic and Sports Medicine

Mind Body Health Results Coach

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