Good Gut Feeling: Digestive Health
by Matthew Powell
A Body Aware Specialist
From the moment food is swallowed it begins a 25-30 foot journey of breakdown, release, absorption, addition, and removal. The processing of this food uses a staggering 9 times the amount of nerves than are present in the brain AND spinal cord. For this reason, scientists dub this Enteric Nervous System (ENS) the body’s “Second Brain”.
And the shocking facts don’t stop there kids, oh no. 90% of the information transmitted goes from the gut to the brain, not the other way around, meaning that the gut is largely independent of the brain, letting the brain know what’s going on and how it can help out if at all.
But our second brain affects us even more profoundly than simply in our digestion. Our emotions are more and more being found to be influenced by our gut. The sensation of butterflies in our stomach for example is proof of how the gut is connected to physiological stress. Opposite to that is the connection between gastrointestinal (GI) upset and bad moods. Indeed, our everyday emotional well-being may often rely on what our second brain is telling us first.
So my thoughts this month revolve around the quality of the foods we eat.
For a moment forget about calories, or the balance of fat, carb and protein, or weightwatchers points, or cabbage soup diets, and ponder over the fact that, with 95% of the body’s happiness hormone - serotonin - being found in the bowels, that we should be feeding happiness with goodness.
The most common nutritional causes of GI distress tend to be dairy and gluten, so if you’re commonly bloated or suffering from constipation or diarrhoea then they are always a good place to start by removing from your diet. Look to increase dietary fibre and hydration to keep everything moving and reduce toxin concentration, try and avoid the cheapest meats as they are often (artificially) hormone heavy, and, if you can afford organic, spend the extra.
Happiness, of course, is determined by a million different things. However the link between our 2 “brains” cannot be ignored and so to be aware of the relationship between the quality of the food we eat and the health of the place that we put it is a must. Eat good, feel better. Eat good, look better. Look good, feel better. Feel good, look better. Simples.
In summary, AVOID the junk food. Junk goes in the rubbish bin and, if we treat our guts as a rubbish bin, this happens…
Get that good gut feeling and eat your way to happiness.
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