Big Brain-Little Brain: The Mental Health Connection

Did you know about the mental health connection between your big brain and little brain? Each of us has a big brain, contained in our skulls, and a little brain contained in the guts. (I’ll bet you thought I was going to say something else.) The reason the gut is called the second brain is because of the enteric nervous system (ENS). The enteric nervous system is two thin layers of more than 100 million nerve cells lining your gastrointestinal tract. Your ENS brain cannot add two and two or compose a poem. But the ENS can and does communicate with the big brain. It communicates through the nervous systems, through hormones, and through the immune system. More than 100 trillion organisms, collectively called the microbiome, exist in our bodies. (source.) The right microbes keep our gut healthy, turn off stress hormones, and help turn the food we eat into energy. The presence, strength, and number of these organisms signals our gut which in turn signals our brain. Too few of certain microbes may result in depression, anxiety, and other psychiatric diseases. A few studies show interesting connections. Patients with digestive issues (chronic constipation, diarrhea, heartburn, etc.) treated with psychologically based […]

The Special Effects of the Sky: Thunder and Lightning

It’s May in Kansas which means the special effects of the sky: thunder and lightning get a workout. Thunderstorms affect us in a powerful, emotional way. Our response to thunder and lightning shows up in everyday speech, in literature, and on the weather channel. Below is a collection of facts and fantasy all about thunder and lightning. “They say all marriages are made in heaven, but so are thunder and lightning.”  ― Clint Eastwood Fact: Warm, humid, near-the-surface air rises and cools. Water vapor in the air condenses into a cloud and releases heat. Which makes the air around it warmer and it rises and cools and condenses. This process continues until a tall convective cloud is formed. This is the thunderstorm. The cloud can reach up to 12 miles high. What if NASA invented thunderstorms to cover up space battles? Fact: The sudden increase in pressure and temperature caused by lightning results in the sound we call Thunder. The sound is refracted through the lower layer of the atmosphere and reflected off the Earth’s surface. Temperature, air density, and the curvature and composition of the earth affect how the thunder sounds. “Lightning doesn’t strike twice, but you know, baby Nothing is […]

Listen & Learn: Podcasts

We’re all busy, right? We have lives, children (two-legged or/and four-legged), spouses, and chores to do. Some of us have more than one career we juggle, too. So how does one make time for everything? Listen & learn. NO TIME TO READ? In my busy lifestyle, I find it difficult to find time to read. But I have a lot of tasks that I do that keep my hands busy like dishes, yard work, and data collection. During those times I sometimes listen to audio books but more and more lately, I’ve been listening to podcasts. DISCOVER PODCASTS According to Wikipedia, “A podcast is an episodic series of audio files which a user can subscribe to so that new episodes are automatically downloaded via web syndication to the user’s local computer, mobile application, or media player. The term podcast was invented by BBC  journalist Ben Hammersly in 2004. Podcasts are usually free of charge. Some charge a small fee, others use sponsors and ads, still others use Patron to cover the cost of production. The user can listen to current podcast episodes or archived ones. Podcasts are produced by a wide range of people from professionals working for well-known corporations […]