Mental health is not all in your head. The heart, brain, and gut all have their own intrinsic nervous systems and communicate with each other. These three “brains” together influence your mental & emotional health.
Every function in the human body is controlled by the brain, which is responsible for your intelligence, feelings and emotions. Your behaviour and mood regulation directly depend on the gut or the so-called gastrointestinal nervous system, also known as the “second brain”, which communicates with the brain and affects it. The gut produces 90% serotonin (a hormone that regulates many brain functions, including sleep and mood).
GABA is a neurotransmitter produced in the gut that controls feelings of fear and anxiety. The gut also produces 70% of cortisol (a stress hormone). All of these neurotransmitters rely on a healthy microbiome to function properly. Your heart also has its own “brain” and affects both your mental well-being and the physiology of your body. It stimulates the release of the hormones adrenaline and oxytocin, which are associated with love, affection and social behaviour.
These three brains are connected in several ways. The vagus nerve is the information highway between the three brains. They also connect and sends messages through chemicals, hormones, and neurotransmitters. For many of us, one or two of the brains will override the other(s). This is because neural networks grow the more we use them, so if you use your mind more that brain will dominate and you’ll have more of a head orientation. This is also why sometimes the 3 brains do not align – your mind may say one thing but your heart tells you another, or you gut instinct tells you something’s not right when your brain doesn’t see why.
To function properly, each of your three brains requires daily care. Did you check in with your head, gut, and heart today?
Author: Mirela Velikova