Did you know that your gut informs your brain about what is going on every millisecond of the day? The bi-directional communication between your gut and your brain is called the gut-brain axis.
These communication channels between your gut and your brain include hormones, your immune system and your nervous system. There are nerves that run all the way from our brain to our gut!
Always on The Go?
If you are running on overdrive, stressed or rarely stop to smell the roses it is possible that your sympathetic nervous system is on high alert. Your sympathetic nervous system is part of the pathway for communication between your gut and your brain. An overactive sympathetic nervous system increases gut inflammation and intestinal permeability, disrupting your gut microbiota and fertility.
In times of stress and anxiety it is common to notice changes in your gastrointestinal system. Have you ever had a nervous poo or diarrhea when you are stressed?
This gut disruption has flow on effects for your fertility, changing the balance of autonomic function across the menstrual cycle. With an increase in intestinal permeability, systemic levels of inflammation and oxidative stress rise impacting ovulation and egg and sperm quality.
Recurrent pregnancy loss has also been associated with an increase in sympathetic nervous system activation [1, 2].
Nervous System Balance
Strategies to dampen sympathetic nervous system outflow include nurturing a healthy, diverse gut microbiota. Just as your brain talks to our gut, your gut talks to your brain.
Remodelling the beneficial populations in your gut benefits the production of neurotransmitters, immune surveillance, and vagus nerve activation, helping to reduce anxiety.
What is the Vagus Nerve?
The vagus nerve extends from the base of your brain to your abdominal region and acts as a superhighway for signals relating to hunger, metabolism, digestion and inflammation.
Almost 90% of signals using the vagus nerve travel from the gut to the brain, with only 10% of signals travelling from your brain to the gut. Your brain needs your gut more than your gut needs your brain!
Our vagus nerve is a component of our parasympathetic nervous system, the one that helps us ‘rest and digest’. Your parasympathetic nervous system increases calm, reduces intestinal permeability and lowers inflammation – all benefitting fertility!
Stimulating the Vagus Nerve for Fertility
As activation of the vagus nerve brings calm and helps us manage stress it’s no surprise that stimulating the vagus nerve is beneficial for fertility .
Ready to get your vagus nerve going? Try some of these activities that are proven to modulate the vagus nerve
- 🔸 loud gargling with water
- 🔸 singing out loud
- 🔸 deep and slow breathing
- 🔸 positive social connections
- 🔸 prebiotics 
Prebiotics Balance the Gut-Brain Axis
Prebiotics like Fertile Gut’s Microbiome Essentials and synbiotic combinations support the vagus nerve, and the bi-directional communication between our gut and brain.
Ever wondered you might feel instant calm as you savour your delicious synbiotic Cacao Latte? It’s your microbes letting your vagus nerve know that you are nurturing your fertility!
1. Yun, A.J., K.A. Bazar, and P.Y. Lee, Med Hypotheses, 2004. 63(1): p. 172-7.
2. Kataoka, K., et al., J Obstet Gynaecol Res, 2015. 41(6): p. 912-8.
3.Tunapong, W., et al., Eur J Nutr, 2018. 57(6): p. 2091-2104.