In a situation of survival, performance on all aspects of mind and body can literally be the difference between life and death. That’s why we advocate taking care of the most important item on your bug out bag list.
While keeping in peak condition will more often bring to mind thoughts of battling attackers, leaping over obstacles to bug out and running to a bug out location, the mental aspects of preparation can be even more important. History has been written according to those who did not make mistakes in the heat of the moment. This isn’t to mention the countless survivors, pilgrims and colonists who weren’t able to survive mentally.
In our last post, we learned about the importance of the gut and how changes in diet can create massive differences in health. But did you know the effects lead as far as the brain? Recent research has even gone to far as to describe a gut-brain axis because it is that significant.
Serotonin and the Second Brain
The terms for describing emotions in the gut have been around forever. From butterflies in the stomach to giving yourself an ulcer, the connection is a part of our culture. However, recent research has shown that this connection is a lot more literal than many people expected.
The work of research professionals such as Dr. Michael D. Gershon has led to the set of nervesaround the stomach being referred to as the second brain. In addition to dealing with many of the local issues of digestion, such as the speed of food movement, pressure and ph balance, it has feedback with the first brain.
Remember serotonin, the chemical necessary for feelings of well being? 95% of serotonin within the body is found not in the brain, but in the gut. Interestingly enough, most patients suffering from anxiety and depression have significant disturbances in their gut flora. Gut health has even been connected to diseases like autism and the development of the hippocampus in animal research.
Inflammation and the blood brain barrier
Carrying a cargo of partially digested food and close to 100 trillion bacterial cells, the intestines are something we definitely don’t want leaking into our bloodstream. However, when inflammatory survival foods make their way into our diets, the tight junctions between cells of our intestinal walls can loosen up, releasing parts of our food into our bloodstream.
Where this gets even scarier is if these inflammatory chemicals irritate the brain. Your brain is actually separated from the rest of your bloodstream by what is called the blood-brain barrier. This prevents infections of the blood from reaching the break and wreaking havoc.
The difference in capillaries surrounding the brain and those in the rest of the body? Tight junctions – the same ones that hold the gut together. The inflammatory chemical that can cause the gut to get leaky can also cause the blood brain barrier to become leaky – which is bad news.
Leaky brain can cause inflammation of the brain, which is governed by different cells. Cells called microglia function to defend the brain from outside influence, but unlike our body cells, they have a lot harder time turning off. It’s no surprise this has been connected to autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis.