The nervous system in our gut has been called the ‘second brain’. It is connected to our brain via sympathetic and parasympathetic pathways and has bi-directional activity. In simple terms, this is the gut-brain axis, and it works both ways. A review published in October 2021 discusses the roles of gut bacteria and intestinal cells in chronic pain, neuropathy and hyperalgesia (increased sensitivity or response to pain)1. It is important to note that many studies which explain pathways and signalling are carried out in mice. This is very common in cell signalling and in nutrition. [Read more…]
Many of us may be able to relate to feeling better when we eat dark chocolate. Several of it’s constituents have known positive effects on mood. These include theobromine and tryptophan, the precursor to our feel good neurotransmitter serotonin. However, new research has shown another way in which dark chocolate enhances mood – by changing our microbiome. This community of bacteria, archae, yeasts and other organisms that reside mainly in our gut profoundly affects our mood and immune system as well as our digestion.
All food is made up of complex mixtures of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. These need to be broken down by our digestive system via enzymes into much simpler single sugars, amino acids and fatty acids in order for us to absorb and use these to produce energy. When this process is not working well, we can suffer from nutritional deficiencies and malabsorption.
Headache disorders (of which migraine is one) are among the most common disorders of the nervous system and it has been estimated that almost half of the adult population have had a headache at least once within the last year. Given the year we have just had however this figure may be considerably underestimated. [Read more…]
Despite its many benefits, The Irish Heart Foundation has confirmed that 80% of adults in Ireland are eating less than the 25 – 34g of fibre recommended daily. While children need less (their age plus 5g fibre per day i.e. a ten-year-old child should be getting 15 g a day (10 years + 5g of fibre)), we know that the majority of Irish children are not getting enough either.