Some bellies stand out, so to speak!

Everyone knows they have a brain inside their skull. What most people are not aware of is that you have a second brain – your gut. Ever get the feeling that you are hungry? It comes from your enteric nervous system, with over 100 million nerve cells in the lining of your gastrointestinal tract.

People sometimes feel ‘butterflies’ in their stomach – a sign of nervousness interpreted from their primary brain – situational awareness, so to speak. There are direct links between our gut and brain with digestion, mood, health, and even our thinking processes. Did you ever have that ‘gut’ feeling?

Second Brain Since the early ’90s, scientists have known that there are remarkable similarities between the gut and the brain. Our primary brain has 85 billion neurons vs. 500 million in your second brain (your gut).

Likewise, there are 100 neurotransmitters in the primary brain and 40 neurotransmitters in the second brain. Each produces around the same amount of dopamine. Ninety-five percent of the serotonin produced in your body is in your second brain.

Neurogastroenterology is the study of the enteric nervous system – the communication system between your primary brain and your gut. Emotional coping can lead to irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, diarrhea, bloating, and more. Studies are linking functional bowel problems with depression and anxiety.

Dementia Link Scientists are discovering a link between the formation of toxin clumps of proteins in the brain that leads to degenerative diseases (Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and certain bacteria in the digestive tract. The human gut microbiota is large, complex, and ever-changing and limits the specificity of what causes what at any moment.

A recent study at the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences at the University of Florida (Gainesville) used tiny nematode worms (Caenorhabditis elegans) to study bacteria’s effect on brain health. The worm has 959 cells, and the intestinal system can be studied without constant fluctuations experienced by our daily choices of foods, relationships, and more.

The study found that the worm’s microbiota could be controlled with both good and bad bacteria, and the results were analyzed to determine potential human studies in the future. Good bacteria cause the body to make butyrate that prevents protein clumping and associated toxin effects.

Protein clumping is one cause of dementia. Butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid, is produced when healthy gut bacteria is fermented with fiber.

Harmful or pathogenic bacteria caused protein conformational disorders – folding. When proteins begin to fold, plaques and tangles develop in the brain. The misfolded alpha-synuclein protein is a predecessor to Alzheimer’s disease.

Keep your gut healthy, and all is good. However, harmful bacteria (Klebsiella pneumoniae and Pseudomonas aeruginosa) resulting from overuse of antibiotics can disrupt your gut, brain, and health. What happens when you take antibiotic-resistant bacteria to survive and overpower healthy bacteria in your gut?

Antibiotics and Alzheimer’s disease Analyses of the microbiota of Alzheimer’s patients show a deficiency of healthy bacteria. Another factor supporting the supposition that the gut can cause degenerative disease. Clinical trials to determine the exact relationship between butyrate and Parkinson’s disease are being planned.

However, killing all bacteria with antibiotics can lead to increased levels of antibiotic-resistance bacteria. Soon bad bacteria dominate the gut environment. Studies show that antibiotic therapy is associated with the risk of Parkinson’s disease.


Our guts can keep us healthy. Age, diet, stress, antibiotic use, and more can affect the gut environment. The gut microbiome is critical for overall health – getting the nutrients we need daily to every part of our body. However, situations can develop when the bad overcomes the good and stays in charge too long.

I rarely need antibiotics. However, when I do, I always ask about the timing of probiotics and prebiotics to help rebuild my gut after the antibiotics have done their damage.

Live Longer & Enjoy Life! – Red O’Laughlin –



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