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  • Patricia Faust

Head, Heart, and Gut - Three Brains Are Better Than One



We work so hard to take care of our brains and that hard work can bring about amazing changes. What if I told you we have three brains?! You are familiar with the three brains we possess, but probably not in a manner that you thought of them each as a brain. All three brains are vital to our health and wellbeing.


Enough of the suspense already – here are our three brains: the head, heart, and gut.


Our three brains are now considered functional brains, and science has shown us that there are complex neural networks in all three. You probably have a sense of this already. Humans have always expressed love, feelings, and emotional pain coming from the heart, and basic feeling of intuition coming from the gut. Listening to all three is critical in decision-making. The heart and gut are fully equipped to do some thinking on their own. And sometimes, they are giving the brain orders instead of taking them. We are truly an integrated being! Let’s dive a little deeper and discover how the heart and gut contribute to our health and happiness.


The Heart Brain

The heart has nearly 2 billion muscle cells and 40,000 neurons. 100,000 times a day the heart repeats its monotonous task of survival. Perhaps that is all you ever associated with your heart. This ‘pump’ turns out to have a mind of its own. The network of neurons (nerve cells) is situated around the heart, and they function much the same way as parts of the brain. The heart-mind interaction takes place both by electrical signals (via the vagus and spinal cord nerves) and through chemicals (the heart is an endocrine gland also). Recent studies have shown that the heart sends signals to the brain that are not only understood by it but also obeyed. Recently scientists have discovered that the heart is involved in the processing and decoding of ‘intuitive information’. Tests done on subjects showed that the heart appeared to receive the intuitive information before the brain. To listen, you want to get out of your mind and get into your body a little bit.


The Gut Brain

The cranial brain (brain) has nearly 100 billion neurons and is the seat of all our thinking. The gut (digestive system of the body) has close to 500 million nerve cells and 100 million neurons. Not only does the gut talk with the brain chemically (by releasing chemicals which are then taken to the brain by blood) but also by sending electrical signals via the vagus nerve. Most of the gut neurons are used in the daily grind of digestion.

Recent research has revealed that there is a tremendous amount of information flow from the gut to the brain via the vagus nerve and the flow is mostly one-sided – almost all of it is from the gut to the brain and not the other way around. There are also recent research findings that suggest that a big part of our emotions are probably influenced by the chemicals and nerves in the gut. 95% of the body’s Serotonin is found in the gut. Serotonin is an important neurotransmitter which is a well-known contributor towards feelings of wellbeing.


More research has discovered that the beginnings of Parkinson’s disease is in the gut. Keeping the gut clean and healthy produces a healthy brain. (http://thriveglobal.com)


The Head Brain

The brain is the most complex organs in the body. It is composed of 100 billion neurons that communicate along trillions of connections called synapses. Specialized areas of the brain work together to store and access memories and process your surroundings. The brain can help in making good decisions in really difficult situations. You can come up with solutions to complex problems.


Notice what you feel in your body. Access the combined wisdom of your head brain, the feelings of your heart brain, and the instincts of your gut brain. When you take the three messages from your head, your heart, and your gut, you will have a fuller perspective on how to act. (https://www.goodnet.org)


References:

Goodnet. (Aug. 20, 2020). Head, Heart, and Gut: How to Use the 3 Brains. Retrieved from https://www.goodnet.org/articles/head-heart-gut-how-to-use-3-brains


Rajvanshi,A. How three minds of the body – Brain, heart, and gut, work together for producing happiness. Retrieved from https;//thriveglobal.com/how-three-minds-of-the-body-brain-heart-and-gut-work-together-for-producing-happiness/


Rewire Me. Your Heart and Stomach May Be Smarted Than You Think. Retrieved from https://www.rewireme.com/brain-insight/your-heart-and-stomach-may-be-smarter-than-you-think.





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