The Brain-Gut Connection, Serotonin
Another vital aspect of our digestive system is its role in the production of serotonin which is refered to as the natural “Feel Good Hormone”. Over ninety-five percent of the body’s serotonin is found in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, which is why it has been called the body’s “second brain”. The gut is vital in the role of serotonin production and so many other of the body’s vital functions.
Serotonin levels have been linked to everything from autism to constipation. Its a key player in the functioning of GI tract muscles, causing the peristalsis (contacting) of our intestines, and triggering the GI nerves with pain signals, nausea, and other GI issues. Serotonin also influences the functioning of the cardiovascular, immune, and renal systems. Serotonin is a hormone that also regulates aggression, appetite, cognition, mood, sexual behavior, and even sleep. Serotonin is manufactured in our bodies from an amino acid which is derived from foods we eat. It impacts our memory, mental clarity, mood, and the foods we crave.
Some studies for further research
- The Mayo Clinic found that serotonin plays a key role in controlling depression.
- The Brain, Behavior, and Immunity journal reports that tryptophan, the amino acid from which serotonin is manufactured, assists in memory retention as well as maintaining a good mood, especially among people with a family history of depression.
- University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center research sheds light on how serotonin works to suppress appetite.
- Scientific America, article, How the gut’s second brain influences mood and well being.
- American Psychological Association, article, the bacteria in looked at to improve psychological and physiological disorders.
- Dr. Merola, article, Study confirms gut bacteria affects your brain function.
Optimal nutrition and digestion is crucial to the production and function of serotonin and that, in turn, plays a vital role in everything from our mental health to our ability to get a good night’s sleep.