The Final Piece in the Jigsaw
I have worked in the field of mental and physical health for 30 years with my career spanning fitness programming, nutritional therapy and NLP. In recent years I have specialised in the emotional state of our brains, how this is intricately linked to the physical health of our bodies and how focusing on healing our gut can address many of the health concerns facing society today. I now understand that gut health is the final piece in the jigsaw when it comes to optimising our mental and physical wellbeing.
The bacteria, fungi, viruses and archaea which live in your gut and on your skin is called your microbiome. A natural ecosystem totally cultivated by you. At least 90 trillion of them. That is 1,500 times more thank the number of humans on the planet all squashed into your belly. You have more on one of your fingertips than there are people in Britain. Of those 90 trillion, there are around 5,000 different species, and if we consider that we only have 10 trillion human cells in our bodies, this makes us (by cell count) only 10% human!
It is strange but true that humans have just shy of 21,000 genes, whereas a humble fruit fly has 31,000 and a rice plant 42,000. So how do we run our complex human body on such a small number of genes? Well it is because our microbiome runs us, with 4.4 million genes between them. That means that by gene count, we are only 0.5% human!
These microbes are responsible for our mental and physical health because they communicate with our digestive system, immune system, blood system and nervous system and brain, via our gut lining interface.
Damage Has Been Done
The big problem is that the toxins we have been exposed to over the last 70 years - pollution in the air, chemicals on our skin, preservatives in our food - have altered the balance of these delicate micro-organisms and now we have only 50% the variety of good microbes when compared to the 1950s. Damage to our microbes means that their job, which is to keep us mentally and physically healthy, has become compromised. As a result, we are now experiencing an exponential increase in 21st century digestive, neurological, vascular and immune disorders such as; anxiety, depression, chronic fatigue, irritable bowel syndrome, obesity, joint pain, diabetes, skin problems and autoimmune disorders. These conditions, called NCDs (Non-Contagious Diseases), are all on the rise and their increase is being linked to the damage we have done to our microbiome.
The Gut-brain Axis
Ever since the start of time animals have played hosts to bacteria. They were the first here after all. We have never known life without them. Within the first few days of life, babies’ guts are colonised by microbes where they play an intricate and incredible role in developing normal healthy brain function. Only in the last 15 years has science started to prove the connection between the gut, the gut bacteria and the brain.
The brain and central nervous system are a network of 100 billion neurons, 100 million of which are in your gut. Your gut’s own nervous system works just like the neurons in your brain and this enteric nervous system, rich in neurotransmitters, is being labelled our second brain. We now know that your gastrointestinal tract can activate neural pathways, influencing messages communicated to your brain. However, modern-day living has damaged our microbiome, interfering with these messages, and hence re-balancing the microbiome provides a revolutionary approach for prevention and treatment of mental illness, including anxiety and depression.
Optimal Gut Health and Psychobiotics
Getting your gut working optimally is like firing up a super engine for self-healing and repair.
There is a new frontier of neuroscience arising called “psychobiotics”; live organisms that when ingested produce mental health and neurological benefits, enhancing immune function and reducing inflammation. An increasing number of reports have emerged showing that a diet of psychobiotics together with foods which enhance our good microbes, alongside detoxification, has shown promising effects on psychiatric disorders including mood, anxiety, depression and the stress response.
At the end of my session at the NLP International Conference you will have a good understanding of your gut microbes, how they influence mental and physical health and how we can protect and rebuild them, putting ourselves, and our clients, on the path to mental and physical wellness.
Find out more about Andrea's session and be sure to make use of the current Early Bird ticket offer to save 20% of your NLP International Conference place.