You might wonder, how many brains do we have? If your reply is “one”, you are right.
However, we have other nervous systems in our body. Extensive research was carried out by scientist. They called it a “second brain”. It is the enteric nervous system (ENS) and is located mostly in our belly, not in our head.
The enteric nervous system is one of the important divisions of the autonomic nervous system. It comprises a mesh-like system of neurons that officially control and leads the gastrointestinal tract. The second brain as it is called is derived from neural Crest cells.
Enteric nervous system is very complex. For various reasons it was designed and described as a “second brain”. The ENS can operate autonomously. It usually communicates with the central nervous system (CNS) through the vagus nerve and vertebral ganglia nervous system.
Meanwhile, vertebrate studies states what happens, when a vagus nerve is severed.That is, it does not stop the enteric nervous system to continue functioning.
It requires a large amount of coordination and painstaking effort for the body to transform food into fuel. Therefore, it is right to say that the brain is formed to delegate. Most importantly, it carries out digestive control to the ENS.
The ENS has the ability to change its response depending on such factors as bulk and nutrient composition.
In humans, ENS is consisted of 200 to 600 million neurons on an estimation. It’s complexity of neurons is built into the digestive system. Scientist accepts the fact that it the function of ENS were to take place in the brain, the nerves would be thick.
No wonder, the book, The second brain, “it is thus both safer and more convenient to let the digestive system look after itself”.
“A CHEMICAL WORKSHOP”
Food digestion involves a lot of exact chemical mixtures. They are produced at the right time and distributed to the right locations. The digestive system is described as the “chemical workshop”. It is very sophisticated. For example, the intestinal wall has a column involving special cells.
The cells acts as taste receptors or chemical detectors, identifying chemicals present in the food you eat. This data helps the ENS to use the right digestive enzymes. This is done to break down the food in particles that the body can absorb.
Additionally, the ENS plays a vital responsibility to monitor the chemical properties of food particles and it’s acidity. Why? In other for the digestive enzymes to be adjusted correspondingly.
The digestive tract is like a factory manged by the ENS. The work of the second brain involves a lot. One of its function is to move the food through the digestive system. Then, directing the muscles along the wall of the digestive system to contracts.
Furthermore, the ENS supervises safety functions. The food you swallow can contain harmful bacteria. No wonder, 70% to 80% of our body lymphocytes cells are vital components of our immune defense system.
If you mistakenly ingest food that contains harmful organisms, the ENS will protect the body. How? By sparking up powerful contractions that eject most of the toxic matter through diarrhea or vomiting.
The brain and the ENS constantly communicate even though both function independently. The ENS helps in regulation of the hormones.
It tells your brain when to eat and amount of food to eat. Furthermore, ENS nerve cells tells the brain when you are full and causes you to vomit if you have eaten too much. Research from scientist shows that the ENS sends happy signals to your brain making you start feeling better.
Conclusively, the ENS is not really a brain. It can’t possibly think for you or control your decision. It can’t do your homework, balance your bank account nor help you to compose a song. But it can monitor, coordinate, process data and communicate with your digestive system!