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Second Brain: Thinking with Your Stomach

Columbia University's Michael D. Gershon, MD, revolutionized neuroscience in 1998. Only he did not study the brain. His focus? The stomach.

This new series will delve into your second brain, bridging nutrition with neuroscience. The amount and type food you eat everyday have immediate effects on your neurochemistry. Learn how to change your life and think with your stomach. Your nervous system has many divisions. First, it is subdivided into two major branches: central and peripheral. The central nervous system consists of the brain and spinal cord, and looks like a nut sprouting into a tree turned upside down. The peripheral nervous system is further categorized into somatic and autonomic. The autonomic nervous system is classically taught to operate in two ends of a spectrum: sympathetic and parasympathetic. However, there is a third autonomic system that often gets swept under the rug. The enteric nervous system.

Independant Enteric System

This digestive brain can function independently, only regulated at times from the spinal cord and brain. In patients with a severed vagus nerve, which regulates much of the vital lower body, digestion still progresses in a beautiful display of neuroplasticity. However, there is more to the eye than innervation. A lush forest of bacteria populate the lining of the large intestine. How important are these small creatures and what relevance does this have to the brain? Serotonin, previously regarded a neurotransmitter due to cerebral functionality, plays such a vital role in this society that an entire field of antidepressants (SSRIs) are prescribed daily due to effects on mood. 90% of it, as was discovered only a few years ago, is made in your gut. Further exploration discovered that half of dopamine, a neurotransmitter imperative in motivation and survival, is also a product of gut to microbe symbiosis.

The amount of food you eat will save you from starvation but the type of food you eat is a cure for depression.

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