Gut Health: Not Just Digestive Impacts
Updated: May 26, 2019
Have you ever noticed or wondered why you feel heightened emotions in your stomach? Such as butterflies when you are in love, nausea when you are scared, or tightness when you are angry? It is because your brain and gut are directly connected via the vegas nerve. Yes, the gut is a key player in our overall health and well-being!
The Japanese consider the gut, “the seat of the mind and soul.”
Many professionals even refer to the human gut as the second brain. It is an amazingly complex and sophisticated network. The gut wall alone is made up of an independent nervous system, an intricate collection of 100 million neurons, which can function without connection to the brain, as well as cells that make up 70 percent of the body’s immune system.
Before traveling the birth canal, every gut is sterile. But over time, everyone's gut develops a diverse and distinct brew of bacterial species, over 500 species and three pounds to be more precise, determined in part by genetics and in part by what bacteria live in and around us. This bacteria serves numerous and essential bodily functions, as well as supporting overall health:
Regulate digestion and metabolism.
Extract and make vitamins and other nutrients from food that you eat.
Program the body's immune system.
Build and maintain the gut wall, which protects the body from outside invaders.
Support overall health.
Maintain clear, healthy skin.
Produce hundreds of neurochemicals that the brain uses to regulate basic physiological processes as well as mental processes such as learning, memory and mood. For example, gut bacteria manufacture about 95 percent of the body's supply of serotonin ("happy chemicals"), which influences both mood and GI activity!
Knowledge about gut health and importance is fairly new the wellness world. I've had many conversations with people, even some doctors, who are skeptical that gut health affects anything more than digestion. I personally know too many people, who've seen impressive health improvements by focusing on their gut health.
Are you conscious of and nurturing your gut health? A few accessible ways to show it some love, include:
Take a high-quality soil-based organism probiotic (there are a lot of filler supplements out there).
Eat probiotic rich foods at least once a day - kefir, apple cider vinegar, kimchi, tempeh, kombucha, miso, real pickles.
Avoid processed foods, especially sugar.
Look after yourself - sleep, exercise, buffer your stress.
Questions? Let me know if I can support your journey to a healthy gut.