This episode is a sneak peek into the Gut-Brain Axis training available inside the Pro Membership of Postpartum University.
Why are we having this conversation?
Maternal health care, infant health care, fetal health care are greatly impacted by the gut-brain axis and understanding this critical relationship allows us to provide effective and comprehensive care for mother and newborn, especially when symptoms of imbalance, such as depression and anxiety are present.
We are really getting into the science and anatomy here that needs to be understood to get to the ROOT CAUSE of mood disorders and so much more!
Though it’s just the tip of the iceberg, this information will really prepare you for the conversations and education that need to happen with new moms in supporting what’s happening physiologically and psychologically in pregnancy and postpartum.
In this episode:
- The significance of inflammation in the body, specifically within the gut, and how it’s a precursor to depression and anxiety.
- The role of the metabolism and how it impacts energy levels, insulin sensitivity, and nervous system regulation.
- Why the gut is considered in the scientific community to be the second brain and the role toxins play in the dysregulation of the gut-brain axis and the nervous system.To see the full presentation and training join us inside the Pro Membership!
Read the transcript of this episode:
Depression, anxiety and autoimmune symptoms after birth is not how it’s supposed to be. There is a much better way and I’m here to show you how to do just that. Hey, my friend, I’m Maranda Bower, a mother to four kids and a biology student turned scientist obsessed with changing the world through postpartum care. Join us as we talk to mothers and the providers who serve them and getting evidence-based information that actually supports the mind, body and soul in the years after birth. Hello everyone, welcome to the Postpartum University podcast. I’m Maranda Bower here, your host and I have a really special treat for you that I do not normally do here, so I’m going to give you a sneak peek into a major training that’s a part of the professional membership.
So if you’re not familiar with that, go to our website postpartum U the letter U.com/membership. You will see over 30 plus hours of trainings, materials, all sorts of things for professionals. So if you’re in the field, we highly, highly recommend and this is one of the very trainings that is a part of this membership. It’s on the gut brain axis, okay, and how it impacts maternal care as well as fetal and baby care. So I highly recommend taking a listen into that on there, but I’m going to give you a 30-minute sneak peek of this training. So this is actually a two-hour recording and I’m going to give you a big piece, a chunk, of this. So listen in, enjoy and then head over to the website, if this was super interesting to you, and go listen to the rest. You won’t be disappointed.
So let’s go ahead and get right into the gut-brain axis, or axis should say not access, but it is kind of like access. Okay, because it’s this. It’s a complex and bi-directional communication system. There’s so many different aspects of this gut-brain axis and they’re all very much interconnected. They all play a crucial role in very and regulating various physiological and psychological processes digestion, metabolism, mood, immune function and they’re all interrelated, all very, very interrelated. And so we’re going to kind of get into what does this mean and how does it work. But first, before we do that, I want to stress the importance of this. Why are we having this conversation? Maternal health care and infant health care fetal health care is greatly impacted by the gut brain access. Prenatal development, maternal mental health, maternal nutrition – an example of this is the gut microbiome of the mother during pregnancy can influence fetal development, including the baby’s brain, immune system, metabolism. We also know that the maternal mental health now, if you attended the training we talked about this where the impact on maternal and newborn health, we will start to understand this critical relationship and then be able to provide effective and comprehensive care for mother and newborn, symptoms of depression and anxiety can result from an imbalance or dysbiosis a dysbiosis of the gut brain axis. So so many of these components are interrelated and when we start understanding the gut brain access and its and extend well beyond that into how do we apply this in a clinical setting. How do we help prevent some serious conditions such as digestive issues or colic and newborns? We’re going to have these conversations Mood disorders, delayed cognitive development, autism spectrum disorders all related to gut brain axis for moms, preeclampsia, inflammatory bowel diseases, chronic pain, chronic fatigue, allergies, asthma, obesity, and these are very much related to newborns as well. We’re going to cover what this is, what it means and its significance as a matter of fact, what we’re going to do to give you an idea of how we’re going to move through this. We’re talking a little bit about the introduction, what we’re going to go over. We’re going to get into understanding the gut-brain axis, anatomy, microbiome, the pregnancy changes, what happens in pregnancy and postpartum symptoms of disorder. Then we’re going to talk about the impact of gut-brain health on maternal health, the impact of gut-brain health on newborn health. Then we’re going to get into some clinical applications. How do we assess, how do we provide care, and what other interventions are needed or necessary when we are looking at dysbiosis or some symptoms that are arising? What are those symptoms? We’re going to go through quite a bit today, very, very exciting. All right, let’s talk about understanding the gut-brain axis.
I’m going to screw this up all day. This is apparently a thing. It wasn’t a thing until today, but maybe that there’s some underlying meaning behind it. The gut-brain axis encompasses several significant components. We have a ton of anatomy. I don’t know what is going on with my words today. We have anatomy. There’s several key structures that include the enteric nervous system, the ENS. When you hear me speak about the nervous system, I normally don’t talk about the enteric nervous system. I am generally referring to another part of our nervous system. There’s two. We’re talking about the vagus nerve. We’re talking about the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis, also known as HPA. All of these are very much interrelated. We’re also talking about the microbiome, that diverse community of microorganisms that reside in the gut that we are still yet to fully understand and comprehend as a science. There’s still so much research that needs to be done to understand the microbiome and what that means. What we do know is the microbiome within our body is not a secondary aspect of who we are, but a primary aspect of who we are, meaning that so much of our bodies are simply other organisms. Over 90% of our bodies. We have specific organisms and microorganisms that live on our forehead that are different than the microorganisms that live on our eyelids and our chin. That’s the same for your armpit, for your stomach, for your insides. Every part of your body has these microorganisms that reside that keep things moving, that keep things going, that keep things operating well within you. We also have neurotransmitters. This is very important when talking about the gut-brain axis, because neurotransmitters are the chemical messengers. Chemicals have had a really bad reputation in our world, and very much so deserved. The man-made sense of things, and we’ll talk a little bit more about that. In the sense of our bodies, we’re nothing but a bunch of chemical reactions engaging with those microorganisms within our body. The same is true for neurotransmitters. These are chemical messengers. They are a normal biological process within our body. They are the communication between nerve cells. The gut microbiome influences the release of neurotransmitters and hormones. We have serotonin, dopamine. All of these play a role in regulating mood, appetite and several other functions. This image right here is a neurotransmitter. You can see how it has all of these little spikes and there’s billions of them within your body. We have these and then we have more. We have inflammation. Inflammation is a critical component. We have inflammation all the time. Inflammation is not bad per se. Acute inflammation is necessary for your body to heal. We want inflammation, especially when we get a cut on our finger or when we get a cold. That inflammatory response of the immune system is letting your body know there’s a threat or there’s something here that’s not right, that needs fixing. However, oftentimes, especially in our world, in the United States and many parts of Europe, as we’re seeing now high rates of chronic inflammation. So acute inflammation good. It helps prevent disease, bacteria entering our bloodstream, getting rid of colds and viruses and bacteria, all those kinds of things right. But when we have chronic inflammation, inflammation that lasts a very long time, or even there’s no definition of what chronic inflammation is, except for a long time. There’s not like a set period of time, I can’t tell you. Oh well, that would mean one month or that would mean three months. It might vary depending on where the chronic inflammation is or where the inflammation is, but what we know is that it’s lasting longer in the body than it should and that disrupts the gut brain access and leads to a lot of health problems, including depression and anxiety. Now, in the perinatal mental health training certificate training that we did a couple of weeks ago, I talked specifically about inflammation and its relationship to depression and anxiety and we talked about a specific science, the neuroimmune why I’m gonna space it here because apparently I’m having really hard time with my words psychoneuroimmunology. There you go. That is a part of that’s a study of the gut-brain axis. It is all interrelated into the conversation we’re having today and where this particular science which is new, but it’s bringing together different parts of the body, different parts of the gut brain access together in a scientific way, so that our medical world understands the significance of these communication channels, specifically on inflammation and inflammation being a precursor to depression and anxiety, that inflammation is actually again precursor or predictor of, and so we can draw from that that inflammation happens first, before depression and anxiety, and that in order to combat depression and anxiety, we’re not having to go to the brain to do that, as in it’s not a serotonin deficiency, it is an inflammatory response that’s happening somewhere along the gut-brain axis. And now we also have metabolism. The gut-brain axis also impacts metabolism and the gut microbiome the nutrients that we receive when the body, how we’re able to break down our foods, the production of short chain fatty acids right, which impacts energy balance, insulin sensitivity and plenty of other metabolic processes within the body. Many of this we talk about in the postpartum nutrition certification program, but we don’t have to necessarily get into all of those components. But the components that I do wanna get into that I feel are going to be really beneficial is understanding the anatomy here. So when you look at this image which I will tell you was incredibly difficult to find an image that kind of connected all of these pieces, but what you have is the scenaric right here, the enteric sorry, enteric nervous system and the vagus nerve. So all of this is kind of represented in this very small space right here, including the brain, and then how it goes into the gut. The HPA axis is also in this line as well, and it’s so significant and I think this image, which was very much reflective of some of the other images that I had found because there’s no way I was gonna make you an image like this this was a little bit too involved, but I think it’s interesting that what we found when doing this research was that this part is always shown to be smaller and off to the side, and what we normally see in images like this that showing the cut brain access and the anatomy of, is the gut. The gut is what’s showing significantly here. It is known as the second brain.
Become a postpartum university professional. Our evidence-based trainings, guides, downloads, tools and community membership is now open for applications. Join us as we learn, connect and implement better care practices for ourselves and for our clients we serve. You can learn more at postpartumU the letter U.com/membership. The gut-brain axisis known as the second brain and it’s all interrelated and connected in, and so we know that your immune system 80% of your immune system resides in your gut. We have environmental toxins, which we’ll talk about and how they impact our body infection, sleep quality, diet, genetics and all of that which alters a gut, microbiota and microflora, and we also have inflammation here. There’s a couple of other ones dysfunction or dysbiosis right, and pertaining to the ENS system and the HP access, and then vagus nerve right. So we have all of these components that represent the complex network of communication between the brain and the nervous system, and what we see is that most of that is coming from the gut. But I want to be very clear that this is a two way street. So you have your brain up here and then you have this neuro pathway, which is your ENS system, and through the vagus nerve as well, where all of these other components of your body are being, are being triggered I’m not sure if that’s the right word, but they’re, they’re being activated and connecting in with your gut, and your gut is listening to the signals that your, your brain, is telling you, but at the same time, your gut is also giving signals to your brain, and so there’s this constant back and forth of communication. Does that make sense? So I want to. I want to talk about the HP access really quickly. The HP axis is a is the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal. I mentioned that earlier. It’s a really complex network of communication between the hypothalamus and the brain, the pituitary gland and your adrenal glands, which regulates the stress response in the body. Okay, so this is really important. The HP access is responsible for regulating the production and release of stress hormones like cortisol, adrenaline, and that is what is involved in the body stress response. Okay, so it controls metabolism, immune function, mood regulation just as much as anything else, and the dysregulation of the HP access has been led to a number of health conditions, including depression, anxiety and even cardiovascular disease. So the HP access is a fundamental piece. It’s actually really interesting because I want to share this. How many of you have heard of adrenal fatigue or adrenal issues, right? I hear so many people say, Well, I just have to work on my adrenals. Like, my adrenals are suffering, I’m just going to focus on my adrenals, right? There’s entire health protocols. There’s coaches out there who are there just to support your adrenals, right? How many times have you ever heard me talk about adrenals? I don’t at all, if you’ve been a longtime follower. I do not talk about adrenals, and I don’t talk about them because they’re inconsequential to the entire story that we’re having here today. They represent such a small piece. They are a part of a larger network. They work in conjunction with the hypothalamus, with the pituitary gland, with the gut-brain axis. So by focusing on something like adrenals right which 99% of the human population doesn’t need to do unless there’s some sort of genetic composition or some sort of physical trauma that requires the attention of there’s no need to focus on adrenals. It is not your adrenals that need support, it’s your gut-brain axis that needs support.
So let’s talk about the vagus nerve. I’m sure so many of you have heard about the vagus nerve. This is a nerve. It’s the longest of the cranial nerves and it’s one of the most important in the body. It originates in the brainstem in the back and extends through the neck and the thorax to the abdomen where it divides into several branches and into various organs, including heart, lungs, esophagus, stomach, intestines, all of that. It helps with the regulation of these physiological functions. So your heart rate, your digestion, your respiratory rate, your immune function. It also regulates the parasympathetic nervous system. So that rest and digest that you often hear me talk about, which is related greatly to trauma. All of that is very much interrelated to the gut-brain axis. You all following along with me. Does that feel good? Let me know in the comments Drop me a one if all of that is making sense and how it’s all related together. I just want to make sure that I’m not speaking in tongues, that we’re all following along and everything is making sense. I also want to add another component to this. We have gut feelings. Here’s a study that’s included here, your document here. Of course, you’re getting pages and pages of scientific data here. One of those studies. It was showing that women tend to show greater sensitivity to the brain salience and emotional arousal systems that are attuned to physical feelings. They did this by exposing women to the same medications as men were being exposed to. Women did not react the same. They did not show the physical or emotional reactions to the medications as the women did. It was interesting because the medication that these women were reacting to were actually showing those. There was some gut issues, there were some heart issues that were arising and those women were actually physically experiencing that. Those medications were changing that in both men and women, but only women were able to feel it at that level. The study itself was proposing that there’s a woman’s intuition involved, that she is indeed more connected to her gut feelings. That is not part of this presentation in the least bit, but I thought that that in itself would be very interesting. It was important for me to draw that in. There’s no other scientific evidence as to women’s intuition or anything along those lines, but there is this knowing that we know that we have. Maybe it’s because we are the creators of life and the carriers of the next generation. We need that intuition in order to survive and in order to thrive as a species. Maybe that is a gift that we are given in order to do that. It’s very interesting. Nonetheless, it would be interesting to know if those women were mothers. It would be. Yeah, I don’t think science goes that deep sometimes, though, unfortunately. Okay, all right, so let’s see. So that’s anatomy.
So now let’s get into the microbiome of the gut brain axis. Okay, there’s a lot going on in this image too. Okay, so the gut-brain communication. So let’s talk about this the microbiome, or microbiota, or there’s a number of words that are used to describe this diverse community of organisms that reside in the gut. The gut microbiome has a significant impact on the gut brain axis because it’s part of the communication channel. It influences many physiological processes like digestion, metabolism, immune function, release of hormones and neurotransmitters, which impacts the brain as well, and continues this communication back and forth. But there’s actually very little evidence. Well, I won’t say there’s plenty of evidence that shows this communication, but it’s greatly understudied. They’re working hard on it now. There’s plenty of evidence that shows that the microbiome affects our bodies in immense ways. The connections that I’m going to be bringing to you and presenting to you today is significant, but there’s so much more that we need to understand in regards to this. But what we do know is that your gut microbiome, the amount of the different populations, the amount of those populations, impact your mood, your behavior and your cognition. If you’ve ever followed along with doing gut microbiome transplants, how many of you have heard of doing transplants for your gut microbiome? There’s very few places, I believe. The last time I looked at this research was a couple of years ago, and there were two centers in the United States that was willing to do this, and then there was one in Europe who was actually taking the gut microbiomes of individuals and then implanting them into other people, and that being completely changing the way a person engages with the world. There are numerous instances in case studies where these transplants there’s taking a from a healthy individual, so taking a gut microbiome from a healthy individual and implanting it into a person who was and forgive me because I haven’t seen the study in a really long time is she was over 350 pounds, suffered immensely from gut issues and had all of her life, could never lose weight. And when she received the microbiome of this person, who was deemed healthy and didn’t have any gut health issues and was in their healthy BMI range, they, within a year, this person, who was 350 pounds, lost that weight and no longer had gut issues whatsoever. But we also see the case studies that show that those people who’ve had microbiome transplants had also developed the mood and behaviors of the people who they received the transplant from. So if that person was more angry, right, or had a tendency to you know, maybe if I remember correctly it was play games more, something like that, like computer games it’s been so long I need to look at those again but they developed those habits and those behaviors and those moods of those people. And so it’s very, very interesting science. But again, we are not just us, we are the microbiome and the diverse hopefully diverse community of microorganisms that reside in your gut, because they control so much of what we do and our mood and our behaviors and our overall function.
So the other interesting part of the gut microbiome is it modulates the gut permeability. Okay, so the gut lining and its ability to pass substances back and forth is created by the microorganisms. Okay, so your ability to digest certain foods this becomes really important or digest and absorb the key nutrients. So in the postpartum nutrition certification program we talk about, it’s not just being able to take in a lot of healthy foods that are nutrient-dense, there’s also this factor of absorption that we have to have a conversation about, and the microbiome plays a significant role in that. But also so does inflammation, and so and same with a lack of microbiome diversity or problems with, or what we call a dysbiosis, which is generally related to the microbiome. Okay, when we have a dysbiosis within the microbiome that allows more permeate permeation of things that are not helpful, that are actually harmful. So bad bacteria is because we’re constantly fighting bad bacteria right, there’s the good and then there’s the bad and our bodies are constantly exposed and we don’t want that moving through. We also don’t want certain foods and proteins to move into the wrong spots, like into our bloodstream, because that’s how we develop allergies and such in that regard. So we want a very solid and healthy microbiome as well as gut permeability and that healthy gut lining as well. I am so grateful you turned into the Postpartum University podcast. We’ve hoped you enjoyed this episode enough to leave us a quick review and, more importantly, I hope more than ever that you take what you’ve learned here, applied it to your own life and consider joining us in the Postpartum University membership. It’s a private space where mothers and providers learn the real truth and the real tools needed to heal in the years Postpartum. You can learn more at www.postpartumU. That’s the letter U.com. We’ll see you next week.
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